Our Take

Musings on the Foodservice Industry

Instagram: Don’t Be Left Out of the Picture

Aug 26 2015

By this time, everyone (especially those in the food world) know that the people who use Instagram LOVE to show photos of food.

You could say that Instagram and food are like bacon and eggs, pizza and cheese, hot dogs and mustard, ice cream and cake: not only do they belong together; they make each other a lot better.

If you run a restaurant, however, you may think that Instagram is only for your customers.  They come in, they order something and then they photograph and send it off to their personal digital world.

But restaurants can and should be an integral part of this very important marketing platform.  These updates provide a way to encourage user-generated content with pertinent yet subtle hints at your social media via your location and tags. If those photogenic dishes are tagged to your location’s name, the user can then search for you by name and see tons of other photos showcasing your menu.

Like an infinite lineup of digital dominoes, the more people tag your location, the more likely your restaurant will be trending…which is the ultimate goal of social media these days.instagram-logo

How’s this for some numbers:  Instagram has 130 million users a month who put up 45 million photos per day.  Now that’s what we call a marketing person’s dream, and it is free marketing to boot.  There may be no way to ensure that your Super Spicy Burrito Supreme or Kountry Kale Salad will be photographed, but if it is you are ensured some amazingly valuable visibility.

And rather than wait for an intrepid customer to post a shot for you, you can do it yourself by following some of these rules:

  1. Searchability – Choose an easy Instagram username and stay consistent with your hashtags. Make those hashtags and keywords relevant and then tag all posts with those hashtags.  Key hashtags can include your restaurant name or a signature menu item.
  2. Incentivize your Customers – Constantly interact with your customers, reward them and make your Instagram fun. Ask for customer opinions, create contests, hold photo challenges, reward photo shares and come up with ways to make them feel like they are a part of your business.
  3. Add Instagram to all Social Media and Marketing Efforts – Integrate photos and contests on Twitter, Facebook, your website, in-store messaging, menus, receipts, etc. Use your #hashtags on all of your advertising and on-the-table displays.  Print your key photos with your Instagram address.
  4. Don’t Forget Video – Take your customers on a tour of the kitchen as you make some of their favorite dishes and then post it on Instagram. Interview your chef as well as your customers.  These videos are easily added and create needed content.

Instagram is a two-way street and an integral part of how people share information about your restaurant.  It’s word-of-mouth with photos.

Don’t be left out of the picture.