Like salt and pepper, milk and honey, peanut butter and chocolate, restaurants and Instagram just go together. Look around your restaurant. You’ll see plenty of long-suffering partners waiting patiently while their significant other stands on a chair and takes aerial photos of the perfectly-placed food before they can tuck in.
With nearly 100 million photos tagged #foodporn on Instagram, the ritual of uploading a photo of the food to the site before tasting it is one that is here to stay.
Social media has changed the landscape of eating and dining out. Similarly, social media has changed the landscape of restaurant marketing. People love taking pictures of food and people love looking at pictures of food (there’s more than 188 million photos of #food on Instagram). For restaurants, this is tantamount to saying ‘people want to look at your ads, and your customers want to make ads for you’. If you do it right, that is.
Instagram as a marketing platform
Instagram is a hugely powerful tool in the online marketing toolbox for restaurants. A mere presence on social media is already a huge advantage, and by throwing your hat in the Instagram ring you can reap these benefits:
- Branding. The images on Instagram are a major part of restaurant branding. The filters, hashtags, and captions you use all work together to sell the message of your restaurant. They paint a picture and create a feeling of what customers can expect from your restaurant.
- Organic buzz. Being a social media platform, the engaged, community nature of interaction on Instagram is great for creating organic hype and interest in your restaurant.
- Fostering loyalty. People love to feel part of something and to align themselves with a company and its brand. Pictures on Instagram, especially those of behind the scenes or of happy customers, allow the audience to feel like they’re getting an intimate glimpse of the restaurant and feel closer to the whole operation.
- Social proof, user generated content, and organic reach. A customer uploading a picture of your food to Instagram (user generated content) gives your restaurant their tick of approval (social proof) to all of their followers (organic reach). Your restaurant is marketed without lifting a finger.
Instagram can build your brand and create organic buzz. It allows you to connect directly with your guests and encourages engagement.
Why you should market on Instagram
Other than the fact that it is hugely effective from the reasons just mentioned, marketing your restaurant on Instagram is a savvy move for some other reasons:
– It’s free. With the vast amounts of money businesses spend on traditional media (billboards, TV ads…), it’s no wonder you may be tentative about investing marketing dollars in a new way. But Instagram is completely free to join and free to post to. There’s nothing to lose when it comes to marketing on Instagram, only so much to gain.
– It’s simple. You need no fancy equipment or film crews to advertise on Instagram. The whole point is that the average person with a smartphone can post gorgeous pictures.
– It has immediate impact. Post a picture and there will be eyes on it within seconds. Unlike traditional media, your Instagram marketing efforts have immediate impact. It’s a mobile phone app so your audience can see your posts anytime, anywhere.
Combining these three benefits highlights the no-lose situation that is marketing on Instagram. You can create a post with little time and effort, at no cost, and have it impact immediately.
Compared to other social media, Instagram has the added benefit of being a purely image-based platform. Every post is the same dimensions and is either a photo or short video. This means that your posts aren’t competing for attention the same way that they do on Facebook, where posts can easily get lost in the increased noise of shared articles, life updates, photo albums, ads, and statuses of a Facebook feed. The less noise means higher likelihood of your marketing efforts making an impact.
Ways to effectively market your restaurant on Instagram
There’s a multitude of ways you can market your restaurant on Instagram, but the most straightforward and staple ways are:
- Link to other social media. Instagram is owned by Facebook, and you can easily link your account to other social media accounts. This means that when you post a picture on Instagram you can choose to also post it to your Facebook page or your Twitter feed, among other options. Connecting your accounts allows greater reach and impact per post.
- Sponsor posts. This is paid advertising on Instagram. You can choose to have your post appear in the feed of a target audience for greater reach. Sponsored posts appear inconspicuously in feeds so more viewers are likely to stop and take the time to look at your picture and engage with your profile.
- Use hashtags and geolocation. Creating a unique hashtag for your restaurant and encouraging customers to use it allows interested people to search purely for your brand. With geolocation, customers who are posting pictures from your restaurant can ‘check in’ to your venue and have this location listed on their post. Viewers will always know where that mouth-watering picture was taken.
- Run promotions. Despite being a photo-based platform, it’s still possible to offer incentives and run competitions through Instagram. Offering a Instagram-only special or a promotion encouraging customers to post photos of the restaurant allows you to offer a traditional promotion with the added benefits of Instagram marketing.
Take it further with The Social Savior
The benefits of Instagram marketing for restaurants are too significant to ignore. If you’re a restaurant owner and have not yet jumped on the Instagram bandwagon, don’t hesitate any longer. There’s nothing to lose, only so, so much to gain.
The benefits of marketing your restaurant on Instagram are undeniable, now it’s a matter of managing your account to actually claim those benefits.
Like other social media marketing, marketing your restaurant on Instagram is an equation of common sense and good strategy, with a healthy dose of trial and error thrown in. You need to know your target market and how to engage with them, as well as a clear idea of what message you want to convey and how you want to convey it.
Here at The Social Savior we know the strategy, we understand the platform, and we know how to work it best to get maximum impact out of your Instagram marketing. A little effort is better than none at all when it comes to having a presence for your restaurant on Instagram, but to truly make it worthwhile it’s worth having a professional on board. You stick to what you know and continue to serve up delicious, photogenic food, and we’ll stick to what we know and manage a successful Instagram marketing campaign for your restaurant.