In today’s competitive climate, restaurants are using social media to bring in new customers. As a showcase for alluring images, Instagram is easily the best online platform for sharing pictures of your food. It’s a mouthwatering opportunity for restaurants: Instagram is free, and it markets your images straight to a following of foodies. Best of all, if you take care and give customers what they crave, they will do most of the work for you – sharing with their own friends and followers. Here are five ways to build your customer base and increase loyalty by sharing your world of food and fun on Instagram.
1. Get an account. Add your location. Use it regularly.
If you don’t already have one, go ahead and set up your account. Always have your phone at the ready; take pictures of your most interesting, fun and photogenic food; and post frequently – daily if you can. Make sure you’ve included a custom location on both Facebook and Instagram. This makes it easy for customers to tag your business and see activity at your location. Follow similar people and businesses in your food community. Comment, like and interact as much as possible. Your business will stay top-of-mind; you’ll always be in the know; and others will see you’re an active, engaged member of the tribe.
2. Share your story.
Behind every great restaurant is a story waiting to be told. Customers connect most when they know who you are, how you got started, and what the stories are behind favorite dishes and recipes. Consider what’s most interesting about your restaurant, celebrate it and share it with your customers online. From staff selfies (wearing your merchandise, of course) to wall art, to menu items and ingredients, there’s an opportunity to visually share your story. The more customers know about you, the more they have to love and share.
3. Make an impact with your environment.
Food is just one part of the adventure. Consider the environment you’ve built for your customers. Are there noteworthy visual elements that are unique and engaging? Think about murals, indoor plants, light installations, photography and paintings that bring individuality to your space. It’s not just décor, it’s an opportunity for your customers to snap a photo, tag your business and share with friends.
4. Perfect the art of plating.
If you are going to post your dishes on Instagram, you might want to give more thought to plating. You don’t have to develop a novelty dish specifically for Instagram, à la Unicorn Frappuccino (though feel free!). But you can use plating as an outlet for your creativity. Stack food high for drama. Let the dish breathe by leaving plenty of negative space on the plate. One great Instagram account to follow for inspiration: @theartofplating.
5. Train your staff accordingly.
Customers will generate their own content about your business on Instagram, so make sure you post your account name in a prominent place and encourage customers to post to it. But no one knows the place better than your service staff. Encourage your bartenders, servers and hosts to learn about and use Instagram. They should be looking for Instagrammable moments to share on your account. They can also help your customers represent your business and your food in the best possible light on their social channels, literally by saying, Let me take that photo for you!