We live in a world that’s crazy about sharing our photos, videos and stories. And Instagram is perhaps the world’s leading social networking app for doing just that, directly from your smartphone.
It probably comes as no surprise to you that photos of food and social activities consistently rank in the top 10 most popular Instagram genres. The smartphone has become a table accessory for today’s customer, and it’s here to stay. So why not use it – and Instagram – to your advantage?
Instagrammers love user-generated photos. And so should you. Your customers’ enthusiasm for visually documenting their experience at your business is a great source of free, spontaneous and credible advertising. Want to know how to use this to your advantage?
If you don’t already have one, the first step is to create an Instagram account.
This allows you to post photos of your food, décor and staff, those special events or celebrations, and incredible one-off food or drink creations!
Then work that # (hashtag) like there’s no tomorrow!
Hint: Hashtags and geo-tagging are there to help people to find your posts either by subject or location. It’s critical to create a hashtag that is both unique and memorable. Try a short word or phrase that relates to your establishment or cuisine, and please, make sure it’s easy to spell!
Then get your # out there. You and your # should be inseparable! Publicise it on your website, advertising, blog posts and social media pages. Add it to your customer emails, and print it on their till receipts. Most importantly of all, use it on EVERY single post you make. #FabFoodies
Our 7 top tips.
- Photograph everything (and we mean everything)! Photograph your Big Breakfasts, your appetisers, entrées, mains, and desserts, and don’t leave out the cocktails and glasses of bubbly! Take photos of the inside of your establishment and capture the behind-the-scenes operations. Include pictures of your staff at work, having fun or preparing for big events, especially if you have themed or dress-up nights! Take the time to regularly add photos or even short videos to hold your customer’s interest. Add brief captions to ask for feedback (Yum! Who’s game to try this?) or to explain the photos. Instagram is less about words, and more about photos, but it’s always about interacting. And we know that people love sharing their opinions.
- Share everything that’s new! Instagram is the ideal platform to quickly introduce new dishes and drinks – and get quick feedback and support.
- Invest in your image. Use your regular or smartphone camera to take photos and just use the Instagram app and its great tools for editing. The quality will be noticeably more professional. And if your photos need to be cropped to fit the Instagram format, don’t despair! There are plenty of free apps that will do a great job for you.
- Turn your customers into your advertising agency. The best advertising (and it’s free!) comes from your customers. Or rather, their Instagram posts! So encourage them to post their food photos and hashtag you. They’ll be even keener to participate if you offer a free meal or a free cocktail for the best photos. You could display the ultimate snaps at the restaurant, use them your online advertising or showcase them on other social platforms. Or try a hashtag campaign to encourage people to share photos! #nomnom
- Get social! Share your photos, and your customers’ photos with their permission, on your website and other social media platforms to attract an even wider audience. After all, who knows when your photo of a special moment might catch the world’s attention and go viral? Instagram makes it easy to share content instantly on Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, Foursquare, Twitter and email. So your content can get out there further and faster.
- Shout out. Let the world know if you’re at a special event, fair, trade show, festival or that you are catering an event. And if you have a booth or a stand at an event, don’t forget to take photos and post them, it makes you easy to find. So take the time to capture the live events. Even if they don’t turn out perfectly, the more people see the “behind the scenes” activities and the “oops!” moments, the more they’ll become emotionally involved in what you do.
- Tell compelling stories. Use images to share real events as they happen. Let the photos speak for themselves, they don’t need long captions. You could track the progress of a renovation project, show off a major catering event, or even share the day-to-day life of a busy restaurant and your staff. That’s Instagram in a nutshell – stories through pictures. So go ahead and make your story amazing!
Other good-to-know Instagram tips
Instagram Stories: Instagram has a great ‘Stories’ feature, which is designed to keep your content current. A ‘story’ keeps your photo, video, or gif at the top of your followers’ feeds for 24 hours. And you can tag, geo-tag, and cross-promote your story to get more mileage out of it. And you’ll be able to see exactly how many people saw your story, and who they were.
Instagram Live: This is a great way to promote a new menu, cocktail, event or location. Your followers will receive an alert that you’ve started a Live video at any point in their feed, so they know something new and exciting is happening and they’re involved! You can interact with viewers who are watching your live feed, and chat with them in real time.
Geo-tagging: This nifty feature lets you know where your users are currently located. If you have a special offer, just click on geo-tags to connect with Instagram users in your area. They may just change their plans and head your way instead!
Instagram is a hugely powerful influence in the social media stakes. It’s an amazing way to engage, inform and captivate, and ultimately drive customers to your business. #sowhatareyouwaitingfor?