If you own a restaurant, café, bar, deli, it’s about time you took marketing on Instagram seriously.
There’s no denying it, Instagram is the place to be when it comes to restaurant marketing–30% of millennial diners avoid restaurants with a weak Instagram presence–but competition is high and attention spans low. This means brands are fighting for the attention of those scrolling through their feeds looking for the next best place to eat.
So, how can you make sure your restaurant marketing stands out on Instagram?
Brands have used Instagram in all sorts of creative ways (some good, some not so good), but as a small business it’s all about outthinking your competitors rather than outspending them.
As social media has become a key component to the marketing strategy of any restaurant, café, bar, deli we have found ourselves shooting a lot more social-first content, especially for Instagram. We work with small cafés to large restaurant chains, and each and every one of them is putting more time and budget into their Instagram marketing year on year.
We had been working with B Bagel Bakery Bar, who handcraft delicious, stone-baked bagels using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, for a few months when we received an email from the owner that said, “from today, we change everything”.
We knew that they were a creative team and had big plans for the business so it was no surprise when we saw the screenshot attached to the email.
It was a screenshot from the Instagram channel of a well-known supermarket chain, a supermarket chain that has an annual marketing budget of over £17m.
This was an exciting project (we love a challenge), but we weren’t sure what they wanted was possible on the small budget they had at the time. However, we don’t give up easily, we had a think about it and figured out a way to do what they wanted, on the budget they had available.
We worked with them in our studio and at the bagel bar to figure out a way we could create these shots on a regular basis without the high production costs.
We helped them to outthink their competitors. We created something that truly stands out and has helped to increase engagement on their account.
We have a very happy client and we now create series of images like this for them regularly.
We help plan and style the shoot, we then deliver 15 individual posts from each shoot which build up into an interlinked effect on their Instagram feed. Each post relates to the previous and is personal to the outlet and its customers.
Initially the themes were straight off the menu but as our creativity started to flow we started telling more of a story. Now, each set tells of an event, most recently their new opening in Soho!
The feedback from their community has been fantastic and the idea is helping them to build a steady, organic group of engaged followers, every brand’s dream.
So, how can you do this for your brand?
10 Tips for improving your restaurant marketing on Instagram
1. Be different
Don’t be afraid to try something completely different, different is often better than better, look at what your competitors are doing and do something you feel they’re missing. This could be the way you lay out your feed, the way you photograph your food or the language you use to communicate with your audience.
2. Customers come first
Always think about your customers first – are you doing this for them or for you? It should always be for them. Think about what they’re doing when they’re scrolling through Instagram, what will really grab their attention? What will add value to their day?
3. Post regularly
If you’re only there once in a while you won’t be at the forefront of your customers’ feeds when you need to be. Posting regularly keeps you at the fore front of their minds. Posting regularly also helps you to work out what works and what doesn’t faster.
You’re not just on Instagram to push things at your community (it doesn’t work like that), speak to them and listen to what they want as well. Like, share and comment on their posts to build a rapport and show them that you care. Engage with posts that use the same hashtags as you and reach out to potential customers with personalised offers.
5. Use hashtags
Use hashtags so your posts show up when potential customers are looking for certain things i.e. #londonbagel. A lot of the time, users will use Instagram to find the best places to go locally using certain hashtags, make sure you do your research and work out which hashtags are the best ones to use.
6. Location, location, location
Use geotags. Include your location in your bio and posts so customers can find you easily. You can also try tagging your city or local area as often customers will find new places by looking at recent posts of their local area.
Maintain style consistency, we are creatures of habit and customers like to know what they’re getting when they come to your page. Maintaining a consistent brand image across your Instagram profile will also make you instantly recognisable. Your style should fit seamlessly with the look and feel of your physical premises too.
8. Professional photography
Work with a professional photographer (we may be bias on this one but trust us it helps). So many brands take an ‘it’s good enough’ approach to Instagram, this doesn’t cut through the noise. Working with a professional helps you to nail down your style, outshine your competitors and gives you an outside, creative perspective.
You can find out more about how to work with a professional photographer here.
9. Paid advertising
It’s no secret that organic reach is slowly declining on social media and that Instagram is becoming a pay-to-play platform for most brands. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, if you’re putting budget behind each post you put you it’s likely you’re going to want to make it count. It’s an incentive to improve the quality of your content.
10. Customer content
Encourage your customers to share their experiences and tag you in their photos. This gets your brand out to a wider audience in an authentic way. You can then share their photos on your feed which helps give your brand a sense of community.
Instagram isn’t complicated but it is time consuming. But, whether you like it or not, it’s the place to be for marketing your restaurant, especially if you cater to a younger audience.
Good photography is key to any good marketing strategy and yet we continue to see brands putting themselves at a disadvantage by using substandard or stock imagery across their social channels.
If you want to succeed on social media, like anything else, you’ve got to be good. And, part of being good means having a good team around you.
Are you ready to get creative?