In recent years the photo sharing programme, Instagram, has really taken centre stage for a business’ social media promotions.
Instagram helps people share their lives, their adventures, and, increasingly, their meals…
This social media platform is also a great way for restaurant and cafe operations to showcase their business tantalising images of food are a powerful method of triggering someone’s interest in food. But where do you start?
1. The first step (after downloading the app) is to set up your username and profile.
The username will display publicly and will be what people see when they find you on Instagram, so make sure it is recognisable and as close as possible to the name of your business.
When creating your profile, Instagram lets you fill out a 150 character bio about your business. Because of the limitations in the amount of text you can use, make sure you are clear and concise about the business and what you offer. Use relevant business keywords. You can also add your business’s website, which users will be able to click to visit right from their mobile device. It is worth taking a bit of extra time at this first point to make sure you get it right, from the start.
2. Who should manage your Instagram account?
Depending on the size of your business, you may use a couple of key (trusted) staff, who manage your Instagram content along with you. Whoever you choose to do it, make sure they understand Instagram and are users themselves. There is more to it than just posting a photo, you need to write a captivating caption, use #hashtags that increase exposure and actively follow and engage other users.
3. What photos should you post?
Here are some suggestions:
Have a look at your sales, what are the hottest menu items currently? Post images of these. You can also use Instagram to promote a new menu item, cocktail, or a special. But be mindful of how you present any dish, people will come in and expect to get the dish that they saw on Instagram.
And needless to say make sure the photo is actually visually appealing. Food is only part of the equation however, you are inviting people into your world, so post photos of your staff, the different parts of your business interior and exterior and your customers enjoying your hospitality. There’s no better advertisement for your restaurant than happy customers willing to help spread the word.
4. How often should you post?
Be consistent with your posts as there is nothing worse than minimal, outdated, photos. But, be careful not to over post people will unfollow you if you clog their feed. As a suggestion, start off with two posts per day at most and monitor it. You can adjust this over time. Play around with time of day you post as well, to get a feel for what works best for your followers.
5. Use #hashtags
Similar to #hashtags on Twitter, #hashtags on Instagram are keywords added to user photos that associate them to a specific topic or idea. Try to own 2-3 hashtags for your business and be consistent in your usage of them.
Then encourage other Instagram users to add them to photos they take at your business. In addition, pay attention to the #hashtags used by other local restaurants and businesses. There may be a hashtag popular in your community which you can utilise to promote your business.
6. Share Instagram with your other social accounts
You can integrate your Instagram account with your other social channels, like Facebook (who also own Instagram). Once you integrate with Facebook, you’ll have the option to share Instagram photos on your personal Timeline, or on a page that you manage. Although you can’t directly integrate Instagram with Twitter, you can still share links to your Instagram photos directly through the service.
7. How do you get followers?
If you have an existing database of customers, you can send out an announcement and ask them to follow you. However, you can’t expect to suddenly have a whole lot of followers as soon as you start your Instagram account, as it often takes time to build a presence. So first off take some time to follow others yourself – similar restaurants as well as other food lovers in your area. If a new user follows you, be sure to follow them back. Following other people and businesses is not only a great way to make new connections but can also provide inspiration for your own Instagram account.
8. Encourage and reward your customers for sharing photos using your #hashtag.
Be sure to remind your customers that you’re on Instagram, perhaps promote it on all of your menus or as a small line on the bottom of your receipts – and encourage them to share photos. You can incentivise them to do this as a great way for them to join your community. Make sure you also have links to your Instagram account on your website. If you’re also active on Facebook, select one customer photo each week and feature it on your page. A key component of building an audience on Instagram is engaging with the people who follow you. When someone likes or comments on your photo, you will receive a notification. You can respond within the comments of a photo by including the @ symbol, followed by their username.
9. Measure your success
Like any good marketing tool, you need to develop a strategy for what type of content you plan to post and be consistent in this approach. Measure what posts work best for you, and when (time-wise) the posts work best, and tweak the formula.
With a little practice, you’ll find Instagram is a great way to enhance your brand and connect with your customers!
Here’s an easy template for you to use to implement your Social Media Policy:
Social Media Policy Template