Instagram: Social media marketing for restaurants

Instagram has become one of the best social media platforms for restaurants to showcase everything from their food to the interiors. So join us here as we look at why it’s a top social media pick for restaurants and how you can make your place ‘Instafamous’ while turning likes into bookings.

How important is Instagram for restaurants?

Instagram is a necessity for restaurants. Think of it as your visual business card, a snapshot of your brand’s ethos, cuisine and ambiance. With over two billion monthly active users, Instagram provides a stage to showcase everything that’s good about your restaurant.

But it’s not just about pretty plates. Instagram drives real-world footfall, turning casual scrollers into committed diners. From daily specials to behind-the-scenes kitchen magic, the platform allows you to engage with audiences in a way that transcends traditional marketing.

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Impressive Instagram stats for restaurants

People love taking pictures of food and sharing it on their social media accounts. According to OpenTable data, 58% of diners have chosen a restaurant after seeing its content on social media. Furthermore, 69% of millennials take snaps of their food and post them on social media. For restaurants, this offers an opportunity to capitalise and get people snapping items from your menu.

How to market your restaurant on Instagram

With its visually-driven format, you can promote your restaurant on Instagram and showcase your offerings to connect with a food-loving audience. But how do you effectively use it for restaurant marketing?

  1. Create a visually appealing feed
    Each post should be a visual feast, showcasing the best of your food creations and restaurant’s design. High-quality images are key here, and they should be bright, sharp and tantalising, with the aim of making viewers almost taste the dishes through their screens. Don’t shy away from playing with angles and lighting to highlight textures and colours.Beyond the plate, include snaps of your restaurant’s unique decor and atmosphere, giving a full-flavoured impression of the dining experience. It’s also worth engaging your audience with behind-the-scenes glimpses and chef insights, adding a personal touch that entices followers to step through your doors. Consistency in style and tone helps maintain a cohesive look and makes your feed instantly recognisable to followers. Regularly update your content but avoid overcrowding – a well-curated feed speaks volumes about your attention to detail, mirroring the care put into every dish.
  2. Leverage Instagram Stories and Reels
    Embrace Instagram Stories and Reels to dynamically showcase your restaurant’s personality. These features offer a more informal, engaging way to connect with your audience. Use Stories to share daily specials, customer testimonials or quick kitchen tours, creating a sense of immediacy and exclusivity.Reels, with their creative, short-video format, are perfect for capturing the bustling energy of a busy service or the meticulous art of plating. They can also be used for fun, relatable content like recipe tutorials or staff introductions. Both tools are excellent for driving real-time interaction, helping to keep your restaurant top-of-mind and approachable.
  3. Engage with your audience
    Effective engagement on social media turns casual followers into loyal guests. Promptly respond to comments, messages and reviews, showing your audience that their opinions are valued. Regularly ask for feedback or ideas, making them feel part of your restaurant’s journey. Hosting interactive polls or Q&A sessions in your Stories can also spark lively conversations.Celebrate milestones and share user-generated content (more on that shortly) to build a community spirit. Remember that each interaction is an opportunity to showcase your restaurant’s character and commitment to customer satisfaction.
  4. Monitor and adapt
    Regularly monitor your Instagram analytics to understand what resonates with your audience. Look at the engagement rates of different post types and adjust your strategy accordingly. If behind-the-scenes content garners more interest, increase its frequency.The goal is to strike a balance between what’s trending and what’s true to your restaurant’s ethos. Adaptability is key – if a particular style of post, like a mouth-watering dessert shot or a quirky staff introduction, is getting more traction, it’s a signal to tweak your content mix. Staying agile and responsive to these insights keeps your feed vibrant and aligns closely with your audience’s evolving tastes.
  5. Hashtags and geotags
    Use relevant hashtags and geotags to increase the visibility of your posts. This makes it easier for potential customers to find you when they’re searching for dining options in your area. Go one step further and create your own hashtag, one that’s specific to your restaurant.Including a specific hashtag in your bio guides diners on what to tag when they share photos from your restaurant on Instagram. This simplifies the process of monitoring user-generated content.
  6. User-generated content
    Simply put, user-generated (UGC) is any visual or written content about your restaurant that you didn’t create. Leveraging customer-created content is a savvy Instagram marketing move for several reasons:
    – It offers an authentic glimpse into the dining experience at your venue.
    – It fosters a sense of community among your guests.
    – It boosts interaction on your profile.
    – Encourages sharing of user-generated content so it frees up valuable time you can allocate to other facets of your restaurant’s marketing strategy.
  7. Offer rewards and competitions
    When a diner posts a photo of your dish on Instagram, they’re endorsing your restaurant to their followers. To show your appreciation, amplify these moments by resharing their Instagram stories and giving them a shoutout.Building on this engagement, consider hosting Instagram contests that invite your guests to share their latest experiences at your venue, sweetening the deal with enticing rewards like a complimentary starter.To further elevate your online presence, collaborate with a skilled photographer who can capture candid moments of your guests delighting in your dishes. These efforts will help you build a deeper connection with diners and increase your restaurant’s exposure on Instagram.
  8. Partner with Instagram influencers
    Instagram influencers have the power to sway their followers’ dining choices, offering you a direct line to potential guests. Start by identifying influencers whose audience aligns with your target demographic. Then, propose a collaboration, such as a complimentary meal in exchange for a post or story.Always formalise the partnership with a contract that outlines the specifics, from the type of content to the timing of the post. This mutually beneficial relationship can significantly boost your restaurant’s visibility and credibility.
  9. Sync your Instagram feed to your website
    Don’t forget to integrate your Instagram feed into your restaurant’s website. This seamless connection allows you to showcase your mouth-watering meals and delighted diners right on your homepage, creating a dynamic, visually appealing experience for visitors.

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How often should I post on Instagram?

Posting on your restaurant’s Instagram channel at least three times a week is a good benchmark to maintain engagement with your audience. Whether you’re handling the restaurant’s digital footprint yourself, delegating it to a team member or employing a full-time or part-time marketing manager, drawing inspiration from other restaurants acing their social media strategies and driving online traffic is a smart move.

Does social media increase sales for restaurants?

Absolutely, and don’t just take our word for it. Social media can increase sales for restaurants, with 23% of millennials and 22% of Gen Z reported as being influenced by platforms like Instagram when it comes to food, and they are 99% more likely to choose a restaurant based on social media and online reviews.

So, in short, Instagram, and social media in general, can be a revenue-generating powerhouse for restaurants. The right type of post can strike a chord with potential diners and get them hitting that ‘book’ button at your restaurant.

Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, X (previously known as Twitter) or TikTok, they’re all platforms capable of boosting revenue. As well as posting engaging content, give followers a limited-time offer on your feed, post about new dishes and keep your profile fresh. Doing so provides an opportunity to build a following and turn followers into first-time and the regular diners.

Summary: Instagrammable restaurants

Instagram is one of the best social media platforms for increasing your restaurant’s reach. When done right, you can use it as a promotional tool to engage with followers before turning them into dedicated diners that want to post about your restaurant and tell the world why it’s the must-visit spot in town.

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