For restaurants, there is no more powerful image than that of mouthwatering food to attract customers. And no platform lets you show off images like Instagram.
Starting as a simple image sharing platform in 2010, Instagram is now the third-largest social media company on the planet. To date, they have over 1 billion people logging on each month, and 500 million logging on each day. And thirty-four per cent of these users are millennials; the same demographic that eats out more than any other generation — what a happy coincidence.
With so many social platforms to choose from, it can be hard for a restaurant to decide where to invest their limited marketing resources. Thankfully, we are here to demonstrate precisely why Instagram makes such an effective channel for restaurant marketing. Here are our top 6 reasons:
1. Reach the Millennial Market
All demographics can be found on Instagram, but it also happens to be the platform of choice for millennials, and these folks love to eat out! In fact, 50 per cent of 18-33-year-olds are eating out at least once per week. Substantially more than their parents.
Millennials love topical content, videos and a behind-the-scenes type experience, so get in on whatever is currently trending, get the staff together for a funny video and give the people what they want.
2. Stories for Stickiness
Video has become a vital content form for all businesses marketing themselves online. Videos are more memorable than text, and under 25-year-olds are spending an average of 32 minutes each day on Instagram thanks to the stickiness of stories. If you want to the attention of the most restaurant savvy market, it's time to get onto Stories.
Think Boomerangs of dressing being drizzled over dishes, live sessions with sneak peeks of new menu items, and fun videos from the kitchen or amongst the waitstaff.
3. Hail the Hashtag
Hashtags have completely taken over our world. No longer are they just a way to tag online but the hashtag has also become a big part of modern language - #blessed. Whatever you think about this trend, it is undeniable that the hashtag is a powerful tool when applied well on Instagram. Instagram posts with at least one hashtag get an average of 12.6 per cent more engagement than a post without. Hashtags allow restaurants to easily search and research what others are doing across the world. You can discover which hashtags get the best results and then create your own so that customers can post pictures that connect back to your restaurant.
When applying hashtags, look for those with reach as well as hashtags that are relevant to the local area. E.g. #dubaifoodie or #dubairestaurants, rather than just #foodie or #restaurants.
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4. Re-Gram for User Generated Content
In the world of Instagram, there is no greater flattery than having your content re-posted, especially from the brand you're posting about. Users actively want restaurants to re-post their pictures. Using your customers content means free marketing material for you and increased loyalty and engagement with your customers. It's a win-win. To keep quality content coming in at all times, make sure that you create and promote hashtags for the restaurant and whatever campaign is being run. Encourage visitors to use these hashtags and get them excited to have the opportunity to be chosen as a lucky winner.
Re-gramming can be done manually or with external tools. Manually, once you’ve found the photo you want, you can re-gram by taking a screenshot, save it to your phone, crop out everything but the image, post it onto the restaurants Instagram page and credit the user.
Alternatively, Repost for Instagram is free, connects directly to your Instagram account and even allows for video re-grams.
For even better engagement and exposure, you could run competitions by encouraging your customers to take pictures of the dishes they order and publishing it to Instagram (being sure to tag your account and use a specific hashtag). You then choose a winner each week and honour the winner by using their image in your digital menu or website.
5. Engage Influencers
Instagram is the platform where the majority of the most influential food influencers live. Through your research, these individuals should be easy to identify. It's worth reaching out to try and attract them into the venue in the hopes of drumming up some free press. If they don't pay attention to your efforts, it may be worthwhile offering them a free meal with a friend or engage them transactionally for a mention.
If you're able to connect with an influencer, make sure you are thorough with your strategy. Take every opportunity to hashtag, re-gram, and scream it from the social media rooftops.
6. Kill it with Competitions
There are various types of competitions you could run on Instagram, but one of the most effective -- in addition to the user-generated content competitions we mentioned above -- is the comment-to-enter style competition. You can post a picture of one of your tastiest menu items and tell your followers to "tag a friend you'd like to have dinner with for the chance to win a free meal on us!” These campaigns spread the word about your venue and show off your tasty menu items.
If you're using an online digital menu, the image you use can be linked to your online menu so that viewers can head straight over to your menu to take a better look at what's on offer.
The options for restaurants are unlimited with Instagram. Just remember to keep it topical, keep it engaging, consider what is worthy of going viral, then simply keep at it.