This is a guest post from Adam Guild at Placepull.
Imagine a social media channel that could make or break your restaurant.
A place that could completely decide the future of your business.
As you may know, there’s no need to imagine. I’m referring to Instagram.
The platform that 37% of users search before deciding on a restaurant.
Read below to discover the 7 reasons why Instagram is the best social platform for restaurants.
1: Because geotags lead to more local discovery.
Those cool things you can use to tag your post locations… they’re called geotags.
They work by posting your restaurant posts to special categories on Instagram which people near your restaurant browse when they’re looking for something to do locally. Seriously.
And you can leverage them to get new customers. How?
To best use geotags to your advantage, post a minimum of 3 times per week on your Instagram account and alternative between geotagging your restaurant directly and your city.
This technique will work by “sticking” your post to the top categories that people local to you browse and getting them to find it when they’re looking for something to do.
And that’s what your restaurant’s primary value proposition is, anyway. You’re in the business of selling amazing experiences, not food.
But this strategy relies on your content being great. So make sure your content is amazing to maximize your results with this technique.
2: Because the explore page allows you to be exposed to your customers’ friends.
Just like geotags, the explore page works the same way but uses hashtags to classify posts into one category or another.
The challenge with hashtags, though, is that they’re global in nature. People could be browsing the #food tag from Australia just as they could be browsing it from across the street from your restaurant.
Unless you choose hashtags which are specific to your location and which are highly likely to be frequented by interested locals. Hashtags like your street name, your city name, your zip code, and nicknames of your city.
For example: #sunsetblvd #westhollywood #90069 #weho
Hashtags like these could work great for your restaurant for the simple reason that they target the people who are most likely to buy for you: because they’re local and looking for something to do.
3: Because it’s a highly visual platform which allows you to showcase your delicious menu and beautiful atmosphere.
Instagram is beautiful. There’s no doubt about it.
And, by owning a restaurant, you have a secret Instagram post goldmine without even knowing it. Because your experience is also beautiful in many ways.
You have pictures of delicious food, local ambience, happy customers, and your friendly team to share. Pictures that, if positioned correctly, could be visually beautiful and help you increase your revenue through Instagram.
And the content that performs best is content that is visually attracting. Stunning. Compelling.
People visit Instagram primarily to engage with their friends. So that means that the content you post and use should be visually gorgeous AND stunning.
Your goal on Instagram is to interrupt the user from their social interactions and to get them to crave the awesome experience and food that you offer.
There’s no better way to do that than by sharing stunning pictures which reflect your experience.
4: Because the profile features allow you to call the user to action and convert them in an organic way.
Instagram profiles are amazing for you because they offer full customizability on the things that matter.
You get to choose which posts are displayed and which language is used to represent your brand, unlike on platforms like Yelp where great reviews are often deleted and bad reviews favored.
Plus, you have the opportunity to caption posts and use them to control how you are perceived.
So use that to your advantage by making your profile human, intriguing, compelling,
Make your profile picture a delicious picture of your best dish.
Use the story highlights feature to give interested locals a virtual tour of your restaurant.
Call the user to action in your biography by telling them to follow for delicious content of your food.
Simple things like these may sound minor but do make a major difference on Instagram.
5: Because local influencers allow you to build credibility and fame within your local community.
What if there was a class of people that others knew, liked, and trusted – especially when telling them where to go and what to buy?
Good news. There is. They’re called food influencers. They live on Instagram.
Thousands follow them. And they’re cheaply available in every major city.
Most will even work for free food.
Use them to your advantage. Reach out. Share your offer: free food for a post.
Young people even trust influencers more than their friends and family. See how it could be powerful if they were telling people how great your restaurant is?
The two most important criteria to watch for in hiring influencers is engagement rate and ensuring that they’re in your city.
Engagement rate is simple. If they’re not getting more than 500 likes per post, on average, they’re not worth working with.
And the other factor, city, is also important because you want the content that you share free food for to get promoted to people who are local.
Because influencers saying awesome things about your great restaurant is relevant to people who are in your city.
But not to people across the country.
Bonus Benefit: You get free content from their posts that you can repost on your profile. Food influencers tend to be particularly great at photographing food from restaurants which is also perfect content to use
To best utilize this amazing opportunity, message lots of influencers with a compelling offer. Offer free food for post promotions and photography. Many of them will happily oblige, because this is why they do it anyway, and you’ll both win.
6: Because it works best by showcasing what makes your restaurant great.
As I mentioned, restaurants have the most content opportunity of any business.
You get to share pictures of your great food, amazing team, fun space, and happy customers.
Basically, everything that makes your restaurant great is also what performs well on Instagram.
So share it. It’s what makes people attracted to you. Just make sure to do it in the right way: with the proper aesthetic.
In fact, there’s a great guide on Instagram for restaurants professionals here you can use.
It will share with you exactly how to achieve the best aesthetic and result on Instagram.
7: Because it’s best in building real, human connections with your followers who bond over love for your restaurant.
When given the option, people buy from people they know, like, and trust.
Not faceless corporations.
You can use this to your average by making your Instagram a place where your audience gets to know you and the other people behind your restaurant.
A place of social interaction and close community.
Try stuff like posting Instagram highlights of cool stuff that happens behind the scenes in the kitchen.
Or maybe an Instagram live with the restaurant owners, where they can address questions and concerns and love by the very people who support them: devoted regulars who follow on Instagram.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to return to a restaurant where they feel valued and where they feel like they know the owner and they’re a great person?
Perhaps even using your sense of humor to liven up your posts and create comments. Or asking questions and then sticking around to reply to the input.
More than improving your exposure on Instagram, which all of these things do, they hit a more important factor for restaurant success. They make your customers feel valued.
Now that you know why Instagram is the best platform for restaurants…
What are you going to do about it? Are you going to master Instagram?
Maybe even assign a team member to mastering it for your restaurant?
Or will you let your competitors do that and watch as they steal this opportunity away from you?