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22 creative ways to use Instagram to market your restaurant

With over 1 billion monthly users, Instagram is one of the most popular social networks right now. One of the most popular pastimes of these billion plus users is looking at food pictures and getting hungry. Tens of thousands of high quality food photos and videos are liked every minute by millions of hungry users. A hungry Instagrammer is a potential customer. Up your Insta game to catch their attention..

For restaurants, this could be a constant source of new business, customers, collaborations and exposure — if you know what you are doing. From the small family run diner to the big food chains, having an Instagram strategy in place can make all the difference.

The Importance of Strategy

The first mistake many businesses make on Instagram is the lack of a clearly defined strategy. Just taking pictures and posting them on your profiles can be good, but you won’t be able to repeat your success or bring consistent results. If the things you do stop working, you won’t know what to try next to get the best results possible.

The work of a strategy documentis to define clear parameters to guide all your efforts, it should include a quick summary of the market, descriptions of your typical customers and what they like. (This is called Customer Personas, we’ll talk about them in a future post!)

Apart from that, you’ll also need a section about your restaurant as a brand, including some keywords to describe its personality and voice, a set of goals you expect to achieve, a defined action plan with the activities you’ll be performing on the platform, and the methods you’ll use to track these activities’ performance and decide what’s working and what’s not.

Keep this in mind before trying any of the recommendations in this list. Don’t forget to test, measure, and of course, consider your own brand because not all restaurants are equal and not all of them will benefit from everything on the list.

Now let’s start!

1. Announce new recipes

Seasons change and so does your menu. Tell your customers about it! Using your instagram profile is an excellent way to bring attention to your newrecipe. Keep them interested in trying new dishes all year round.

2. User generated content

Your customers use Instagram a lot. Give them a reason to post about your restaurant and your food. This increases your exposure and helps reach new customers. Making them feel part of the brand gives them a reason to keep coming back.

3. Show your popular dishes

Fill your feed with high-quality pictures of your best dishes. Your followers want to know what’s waiting for them when they book a table. Give them a clear idea and keep them HUNGRY!

4. Behind the scenes content

Build a better connection with your customers and followers by taking them behind the scenes. Make videos of your best-sellers being prepared, especially if you can get a tasty shoot of the process.

5. Share the knowledge

Your followers hunger for more than just food, they also want to discover something new. Is your restaurant from a specific culture? Tell them! Or maybe the ingredients have an interesting story. Use that to keep your customers engaged and differentiate yourself from your competitors.

6. Feature customers

Customers are the life of every restaurant, why not make them a part of your Instagram strategy? Share pictures of customers having a great time. Build an emotional connection and you’ll have more regular customers and followers ready to try your food.

7. Collaborations

Do you have friends at other restaurants? Why not share each other’s relevant posts on Instagram and work together to promote each other? Build anticipation for any special collaboration, and don’t forget to take a lot of pictures!

8. Repost your customers’ posts

Being social on Instagram is key. If you like a follower’s post and you think it goes with your restaurant, ask them if you can repost it! People will see you care about your followers and customers and this will help you build stronger connections.

9. Hashtags

Use the Instagram app or other online tools like Keyhole to research hashtags your customers use. You can add up to 30 hashtags per post. Take advantage of the most popular ones, participate in popular trends and always test new ones.

10. Live

Use Instagram Live to give your followers a live show! Show them your team having fun or share a live performance. Make them want to stop what they’re doing to come for a visit.

11. Comments

Be a part of the community. Like other people’s content by commenting, making jokes, or a simple compliment. If your friends have a restaurant too, comment on each other’s pics and let all your (and their) followers know your restaurant has personality.

12. Use those stories

Use stories to bring attention to special offers or daily events. Use them to generate a sense of urgency and fear of missing out. 24 hours goes by fast, so they will be keen to stay tuned and see what’s happening each day.

13. Be a part of the community

Use Instagram to bring attention to your community, your street and your city. People like to see you are an active member of your community, participate in local events or even do some non-profit work.

14. Giveaways

Contests and giveaways are excellent ways to increase your exposure, especially if you do it consistently. Your followers will expect the next one and pay attention. Offer a discount or a free meal. The best way is entry by following you, liking a post, or tagging friends.

15. Achievements

Did you get into the Top 100 restaurants in your city? Complete a major renovation? Share that with your followers and let them celebrate with you! This let’s them feel a part of the brand and differentiates your business from the competition.

16. Free input when you ask questions

Ask your customers questions to keep them engaged and learn more about their preferences. Adding a menu item? Ask your customers what they think or what they would prefer. Post a picture of the two options and ask them to comment with their opinion.

17. Special content for special events

If your restaurant offers live music, celebrates holidays, or any other kind of event you can imagine, share them in your instagram profile! It is great to share before, during and after the actual event.

18. Keep it consistent with a theme

Keeping a consistent theme across different networks is a huge benefit for being recognised. Post pictures with similar colours and shapes, keep a logical order in your profile, repeat word plays or topics. It shows quality and a plan to your business.

19. Share your great in-house team

Take pictures of your team doing amazing work! Share interesting stories, even birthdays. People want to follow (and buy from) a real person. Taking them behind the scenes makes them feel that personal touch.

20. Give more way to follow with name tags

Similar to a QR code or snapcode, name tags are a simple picture you can find in your Instagram account that allows other users to follow you by scanning it with their Instagram app. Put them on the tables, the menus, in the entrance and promotional materials.

21. Use your location to your advantage

Tag your location to your posts and increase your reach to your potential customers. Location hashtags and stickers are great for stories too. People that live close are the best chance for turning followers into new customers.

22. Tap into then influencer community

Collaborate with people that have large relevant audiences. They can visit the restaurant, eat there, post about it and share your food with their followers. Real influencers with real followers can be a great tool. Know your budget and establish clear rules before they come in.

Conclusion

Instagram is an amazing place to develop your online presence, earn a place in the hearts and minds of your target audience (and in their stomachs!), and to achieve this you can use any and all of these tactics. Use your imagination! But always keep in mind your goals, your context, and the people you want to reach!

Forager has arrived in Vancouver, Canada

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