[Checklist] The A,B,Cs of your restaurant Instagram page

Instagram is big for the food business, and you know this already.

Instagram users “like” over 4.2 billion posts per day. And they are spending more time on it than ever before – Users under 25 years old spend more than 32 minutes a day on the platform, while those over 25 spend more than 24 minutes a day.

The single hashtag #food has more than 295 million posts to date. Source.

Given how important Instagram is for your food business, we have rounded up all the basics for Restaurant Instagram success, in one post.

An alphabetical list of must-dos for any restaurant business to improve their gram-game.

Go on and keep this bookmarked.

Add online ordering (or table reservation) to your bio

Instagram does not allow you to add links to the post description. The only space available is the bio. You must have seen the phrase “Link in bio” in a lot of the posts you see? Optimize your bio by adding your own online ordering site’s link. This will allow you to boost your online orders. Create a seamless table reservation experience by adding your own table reservation system. 

Be discoverable

There are three things you need to do to make sure you are easily discoverable on Instagram.

  1. A unique Instagram username, that is easy to remember and type on mobile phones.
  2. Using a few signature hashtags that you can own. This could be your restaurant name, some menu items you are famous for, and some creative hashtaggery. Want ideas? Click here. There’s no such thing as hashtag overuse when it comes to marketing your restaurant. So go wild and use your favorite tags in every single post.
  3. A precise bio that uses the keywords you want to be associated with. Describing your restaurant concept is a great idea. You could also use your hashtags here.

Tip: Print your Instagram handle (username) in your menu card and into your feedback process. These are 2 very relevant moments when your guest is likely to want to check you out on Instagram.

Create your location on Instagram

Your guests want to tag their posts where they are at. You know when you upload a new post, Instagram asks you for the location? Be sure to mark your space on Instagram. Here’s how.

Document with Video

Videos are a neat format when you want to capture the action at your restaurant.

Some ideas for videos, to get you started:

  1. Guest reviews
  2. Behind the Scenes, from the kitchen. Show off your skills!
  3. How to make a dish or drink your restaurant is famous for.
  4. Staff banter and meetings
  5. Any event you organize

 

We recommend being authentic. Document fun stories as they unfold in your day-to-day. Real people and real experiences are always a go to.

Emojis

Emojis begin where words fail. You can use food emojis to compliment a foodiegram or as you make an announcement. Use this mega list of emojis, if you’re creating your posts from your computer.  

 

View this post on Instagram

 

#Repost @the.foodie.pirates with @get_repost ・・・ #TheFoodiePirates goes to Carl’s Jr❗One of the best food joints to have some Fresh, crisp & Yummylicious fast food! 🍔🍟😋🍟🍔 . With some Unlimited Drinks! . // Tikka masala meal & Chicken Fillet meal // . . Follow: @the.foodie.pirates @the.foodie.pirates @the.foodie.pirates . . . . #carlsjr #burgersandfries #fastfood #foodie #delhifoodie #zomato #foodblogger #delhi #delhifoodblogger #india #foodporn #delhieats #flavoursofdelhi #sodelhi #foodgram #foodtalkindia #delhigram #foodphotography #foodiesoul #instafood #delhifoodguide #yummy #nomnom #foodielife #delhiwale #delhibhukkad #lifestyleblogger #shotononeplus5

A post shared by Carl’s Jr. India (@carlsjrindia) on

Food bloggers and influencers

An Influencer or blogger partnership is the reigning champion of all growth tactics. There are two kinds of partnerships you can build – paid and trade. Typically, influencers above 50K followers are quite expensive but anything south of that is within reach. You could explore paid partnership opportunities with influencers who will quote you basis their number of followers. Simply write to them on their emails (usually provided in their bio) or Instagram direct messages (DMs).

We recommend engaging with influencers at follower ranges between 10 – 50K since you are likely to get a lot of reach for a lesser expense. Sometimes, influencers are happy to engage with you for benefits such as free food, drinks, gift cards, preferred seating or even when they really care about what you have to offer.

Tip: You can think about dialing up your influencer program in the early days of your opening a new space, during holidays and peak periods. Once you have catalyzed some traction, scale down your spends and let people talk about you organically.

Get your content and photography on point

Here’s the mother list of tips for delicious Instagram posts.

  1. Soft natural lighting – Yellow light looks good. Avoid harsh white lights. Use sunlight as much as possible.
  2. Focus and blur – You could use these apps for android to achieve this effect. For iPhones, check this.
  3. Filters – Did you know that “Clarendon” is the most used Instagram filter? You can use any of the in-built filters or get popular apps for some additional filter wizardry. Or go old school and tweak the “Brightness”, “Contrast”, “Structure”, “Saturation” and “Fade” levers, to define your own unique look.
  4. Texture & background – Texture lends character to images. You can achieve this by adding objects and props to your background. Add elements from your restaurant decor like plates, cutlery, flowers or fabric. When photographing your food, remember to use contrasting condiments, garnish or edible flowers. Try different plates of various colors and textures that compliment the look of your food.
  5. Content – 70% of Instagram posts don’t get seen. This means regular updates is key to getting noticed. Quirky and funny lines are a winner. Authentic photos of your ingredients, food, drinks, your space and people are go-to ideas. Try capturing the liveliness of your restaurant. Smiling and happy customers, enthusiastic staff and funny day to day incidents. Your content is a reflection of the personality of your restaurant. So change things around every now and then.
  6. Composition – Use the rule of thirds to create dynamism and movement. Or go the Wes Anderson (uniform and central) style. Consider using white space. Use a cropping app to get more control over how you want your images to be displayed. And remember to think of your entire instagram page (and not just a post) as you compose your images.

Tip: Create a look-book by collecting posts from your favorite brands and put them together in a presentation. Analyse what you like about these images – the composition, color, content, texture, and lighting.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Fava beans and salted plums 🌞

A post shared by Restaurant Maaemo (@maaemo) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Revealing that fall feeling. Pumpkin Spice Latte is back. 🍂💛 #PSL (U.S., Canada & Mexico)

A post shared by Starbucks Coffee ☕ (@starbucks) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

#castelfranco #raddichio #sanfrancisco

A post shared by aprilbloomfield (@aprilbloomfield) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

The best dressed fermentation director on the planet – chef @david_zilber! #MAD6

A post shared by noma (@nomacph) on

Hype your guests

Instagram works best when posts seem authentic and candid. Repost your guests’ posts regularly and encourage them to tag you in their posts. Throw in a reward for your active followers. You can also use Instagram stories to conduct fun polls and surveys about your food, service, staff or decor. Repost your guests’ replies and interactions with these Stories. The livelier the conversation the better.

Hashtags

Hashtags help you get discovered beyond your followers. When you tag a post with a hashtag, your post features for that tag. And given that Instagram now allows you to search by hashtags, you should definitely be doubling down on your hashtag use. Use this list of popular food-related hashtags. Or use this tool to list down hashtags you want to aim for. You can thank us later.   

Instagram stories

The coolest way to capture scenes and stories from your restaurant as they happen. You can use a combination of photos, videos, emojis, polls, and other fun quips. It is common to use screenshots as stories as well. Screenshot and share your customer conversations, glowing reviews and any positive feedback you receive. Remember to feature your staff since that helps in building an authentic image for your brand.

IGTV

The latest from Instagram, IGTV is Instagram’s own social video platform for longer content. Think of it as a (free) TV channel for your restaurant. You can upload up to an hour of video, which won’t disappear in 24 hours. The other key feature is that videos are vertical for quicker, DIY mobile video making. A video snack, if you will. There are quite a few useful ways to use this for marketing your restaurant – to show behind the scenes, the creation of a new menu, staff stories, vlogging or customer stories. And remember, you can reach a whole new audience on IGTV. Although a separate app, your IGTV account is linked to your Instagram page so your followers can move easily. There’s no better time to try this for your restaurant. Interested? Here’s how you can create an account.

Jumpstart followers with contests

This is a hack to gain a few followers quickly. Contests will always be transactional i.e a kind of trade where people follow you for a reward. But the network effects (social media magic) that happen when you gain followers over a short amount of time can be worth the price. Build partnerships with Instagram influencers to maximize the reach of your contest. The rule of thumb is 2 contests per partnerships but you can be an outlaw with this.

Kill it with captions

Writing for Instagram has one goal only. To stop the user’s thumb from scrolling. Instagrammers consume information fast and so you have very little time to make an impression. Try a short catchy description if your post is about showcasing food. Use adjectives that create visuals in the user’s mind. Action verbs are a great way to get users to take (you guessed it) action. Use this list here for action verbs.

Tip: Write as if you want to complete the message that the image is trying to convey. Short puns and witty rhymes work. When in doubt, just describe the image with an adjective.

 

Link and share. Far and wide.

Remember to share your Instagram posts on all other Social Media. Consider mentioning your Instagram handle in the “about” sections of your Facebook and Twitter accounts. The formula is to create and distribute. Throw in a few Instagram posts in your comments section (when relevant).

Bonus idea: “Embed” your Instagram posts on your website and blog wherever you want to use imagery. This makes your restaurant seem active and lively. Why use a plain image when you can get the benefits of being active on social media?

Maintain a schedule

Scheduling posts used to be tricky for Instagram but not anymore. You will need to have a business page. All the major scheduling tools allow you to schedule posts to be auto uploaded to your Instagram profile. However, for video you will receive a notification on your phone reminding you to post at the right time. Scheduling tools allow you to upload images directly from your computer or the cloud. So you don’t have to send stuff to your phone like earlier.

Now, it’s your time to shine

We are confident that checking ideas off this list will help strengthen your presence on Instagram, significantly. 

Till then, #foodgasm. 

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Souradeep Datta

Souradeep Datta

Souradeep is a content marketer at LimeTray. His roots are in advertising, digital marketing, and design. Loves food, music, simple things and making things simple. Prefers writing about himself in the first person. But he knows he can't always have what he wants. Reach him on: Twitter @deepsour Instagram @deep_sour