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5 Ways to Take Your Restaurant Instagram Posts to the Next Level

There’s no denying it: food porn rules the restaurant world. That's why 69% of restaurants are using Instagram. Since many businesses have social media accounts, it can make your restaurant Instagram posts stand out.


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Believe it or not, it actually isn't too difficult to make Insta work for you.

A huge majority of restaurants on Instagram play it safe because that works for them, but they could be doing so much more to boost their audience engagement. Let's explore five ways to make your restaurant Instagram posts stand out in a sea of digital competition.

Once you catch yourself up on the latest insight, head over to our Restaurant Social Media Guide and learn how to equip your restaurant with the best social media knowledge.

1. Build a content calendar

Unlike Twitter or Facebook, Instagram is a platform that really thrives on spontaneity. It’s all about capturing those candid moments in your restaurant.

But at the same time, it helps to have a basic framework in mind for your posts so you can continue to post consistently, which is really the key to building up an engaged audience.

Draft up a schedule of your upcoming events and promotions so you know how many posts you have to do in the lead up. And to save yourself time at the start of the week, plan out different themes that you want to cover each day so that your content remains diverse. For example, on Monday you could share an inspiring quote about coffee, on Tuesday something from your breakfast menu, on Wednesday the lunch special, and so on. Check out this well-structured content calendar from Kissmetrics that might be helpful.

2. Encourage customers to post content for you 

Encouraging customers to create content on your behalf is a fantastic way to get word out about your venue. People are already taking photos of your food – so give them an incentive to do it more often!

For example, get your front of house to tell diners that you’re running an Instagram contenst. The campaign could be quite simple: if they take a photo of their meal and use a specific hashtag, they could enter to win a free breakfast (or a different prize of your choosing). Make sure your hashtag is visible throughout the room so they are constantly reminded of it – on the menu board, on tables, by the cash register.

And when customers do share photos of your venue, put them in the spotlight. Use an app called Repost to share their photo on your Instagram page. That way you’re showing them that you really appreciate their participation, and you’re showing potential new customers how much people love your venue.

3. Connect with influencers

There’s no denying the power of Instagram celebrities. Just look at the Kardashians – it’s fair to say half of their fame is built on their Instagram accounts, where they have millions of followers.

That’s not to say you have to contact a Hollywood celebrity to get the word out about your restaurant. Instead, find out who the active and popular Instagram users are in your area. Look for food bloggers who have an influential presence. Then reach out to them personally and ask if they might be interested in doing something called an Instagram takeover.

Essentially, this means they take over your Instagram account for a short period of time (say seven days). During this time, they have the freedom to post whatever feels natural to them, whether it’s pictures of your food, behind the scenes with your team, or with their friends hanging out in your dining room. Food Republic regularly allow chefs to take over their Instagram account using the hashtag #FRTakeover, and it boosts their following every time. Take a look – they have more than 200,000 followers!

4. Research your hashtags

 Instead of randomly choosing the first hashtags that come to mind, research the hashtags you want to use, so you can make sure you’re reaching the right audience.

Use a mix of popular, general hashtags like #foodporn or #coffeelover, and niche hashtags that target customers in your location.

To find the right hashtags for your restaurant, use a free tool called Iconosquare. Just type a hashtag that you want to research into the search tool, and you’ll quickly see how many people are using it (how niche is it), who is using it (are they the right audience?) and what other related hashtags you can add to your post to increase your reach.

The number of hashtags followers are willing to tolerate from you can differ depending on your audience; however, six or seven is a good starting off point. Remember, it’s a balancing act. If you use too few, you’ll miss out on new followers, but if you go crazy with it, you’ll look a bit too eager. This post by the Grounds of Alexandria uses a great balance of location-specific and general hashtags:

5. Use apps to make your posts stand out

There are a heap of apps out there that you can use to jazz up your photos and videos. Not only do they save you from hiring a professional graphic designer, but they also increase the shareability of your posts. 

Here are some of the best: 

Over – Over adds stylistic text to your photos, which is perfect for promotions and inspiring coffee quotes.
Photo Grid – Photo Grid helps you create photo collages, and has over 300 layout templates to choose from.
Replay – This brilliant editing app lets you cut together videos and add filters, graphics and music.
Latergramme - Latergramme allows you to schedule posts in advance, which is incredibly handy when you’re too busy to manage Instagram during the week. It also allows you to manage multiple Instagram accounts from one platform, so you don't have to log in and out to switch between your personal account and your business account.
Flipagram – Flipagram lets you create video slideshows to popular songs. Here’s a fun example.
The most important thing to remember about Instagram is this: authenticity is everything. While paid advertising is now becoming available on the platform, users aren’t yet accustomed to it like they are on Facebook. They prefer brands with a strong personal identity. In other words, they want to feel like they’re talking to another person when they visit your restaurant’s Instagram page. Keep that in mind when crafting your posts, and you will quickly build a loyal new following.

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