The digital age has changed the way we go about life, so it’s no secret that social media has impacted how consumers search for their next dining adventure. Over the last decade, operators have started to understand how having a strong social media presence can have a significant impact on their business. Because consumers are such visual creatures, Instagram is truly the most essential part of any social media marketing strategy for a variety of businesses – especially restaurants. This platform provides restauranteurs with the ability to communicate their menu beyond a few short descriptions, while also giving diners a glimpse into their brand story and company culture. Research by the U.K Italian restaurant chain Zizzi’s found that millennials spend five whole days a year scrolling through pictures of food – and that number has continued to increase. Knowing how powerful Instagram can be in the food space, it’s important to understand how this tool can be used to increase foot traffic and make your business more profitable. See below for seven essential tips and best practices on how to promote your business on Instagram.
BUSINESS TIPS for Instagram
1. Develop A Content Strategy
Content strategy is just a fancy term to describe the process of planning out what you want to say, how you want to say it, at what time and with what assets. If you don’t establish any sort of strategy or standards in the beginning, you will find yourself trying to post anything and everything with, no end goal in mind. Content strategy goes beyond the goals of driving traffic and increasing sales; it forces you to dig deeper into the heart of your brand. When diners go to your social pages, how do you want them to feel? What do you want them to walk away with after visiting your restaurant? Tapping into some of these unique storylines will help you stand out in an overcrowded space.
2. Yes, Visuals Really Do Matter
When it comes to social media marketing for restaurants, visuals are essential. Aesthetically pleasing photos and videos are the only way to grow your following and increase engagement. Instagram reports that 66% of frequent diners want to visit restaurants after seeing a photo or video. This makes capturing consumer attention within that first scroll even more important. Having an equal blend of professional and iPhone® photos makes for a diverse content strategy that diners will love. Because 90% of your photos will be showcasing food, you always want to make sure that your photos are bright, and capture all of the colors within your dish. One of the most important elements of social media photography is to maintain visual consistency throughout every photo that you post. For example, if you have a deep affinity for warm-toned photos that feature a pop of color, make sure to mimic that in every photo that you post. Photo editing apps such as VSCO and A Color Story have pre-made filters that make creating visually appealing feeds easy.
3. Your Customers Are Your Greatest Content Creators
User-generated content is a great way to get your customers involved in your social strategy. “Insta-worthy” dishes and unique décor create the perfect environment for your diners to document their experience in your restaurant. To get your customer base even more engaged, create a fun brand hashtag that is unique to your business, and encourage diners to use it for a chance to be featured on your page. Resharing customer photos not only helps to build your Instagram community, it allows you get some great content without having to put in a ton of effort! There are many restaurants that utilize UGC for more than 90% of their posts, so don't be afraid to rely on your customers!
4. Utilize Instagram Stories
Facebook reports that the Stories feature will soon be more popular than posting in the feed. Boasting a daily count of 500 million users per day, the Stories feature is a great way to interact with your audience in a real and authentic way. Not only do stories provide one-on-one audience interaction, you’re also able to add in engaging features such as Q&A stickers, shoppable tags, polls and GIFs. The Q&A and polling features can be extremely powerful tools, especially when you’re looking to get feedback from your followers in real time.
5. Authenticity is Key
We are living amongst a generation that values social media transparency. The more real you get with your audience, the more genuine you’ll come across. Social media makes it very easy to spot out someone who is being disingenuous. It's always smart to keep an eye on what your competition is doing, but you want to also make sure that you're investing time into building up your brand and staying true to yourself. Instagram is oversaturated enough as it is, so the best way to stand out from the crowd is by connecting with your followers in a real and personal way.
6. Use Relevant Hashtags
Despite what many have said, hashtags are still an important part of your overall social media strategy. Not only are they a great way to discover new accounts, but they also help diners find your page much faster. This is why it's so important to research hashtags that are relevant to your business, so that you can make sure your content is showing up to the right people. Instagram also allows users to follow hashtags, so they can stay up-to-date on topics that are relevant to them. For example, if your business is located in Charleston, South Carolina, try tagging #charlestoneats or #charlestonrestaurant in your next post. If a diner is on Instagram looking for a new restaurant to try in your area, your photo will appear within their search results.
7. Invest in Paid Media, If You Can
Long gone are the days of getting tons of engagement without having to pay for it. Facebook has completely revolutionized the way we engage with social media, and they have also made it increasingly more difficult for users to have their content seen for free. Restaurant Business reported that over 86% of restaurants in 2017 dedicated marketing budgets to social media platforms, and that number has continued to grow. Having a small budget set aside to boost posts and run paid ad campaigns can make a world of a difference when it comes to increasing your content visibility and growing your social following.
Check out US Foods® restaurant marketing solutions to see how we can help your promote your business and attract new customers.