It always surprises me that when I look to see if a restaurant has an Instagram handle, there is either nothing there or a picture hasn't been submitted in over 24 weeks. I mean, come on! If you're in the restaurant business, you're one goal needs to be to hashtag 'food porn' and 'num num'at least once a day! The self-proclaimed foodies of the world are disappointed in you... #SMH!!! But seriously, every time I browse through the search tool on Instagram and go to the Explore Posts section, I stumble upon either a ridiculously delicious looking burger and fries, a crisp bloody mary or some sort of double chocolate cookie from Insomnia. It seems like there are more and more food handles being made every week.
However, even if these food accounts are clogging up our news feeds, they are benefiting restaurants from a marketing standpoint. The reason? Instagram is taking over and for restaurants all over the country, it is a great way to market their dishes in a unique way in 2016.
Almost twelve years ago, Facebook was created in a Harvard University dormatory. When Mark Zuckerberg first plotted out his vision of what Facebook would become, he saw a search engine to track friends, classmates and people you heard about through gossip at the lunch table. But it has become much more than that now. Besides taking over the lives of over 70% of the world's adults, it inspired two Stanford alumni, Kevin Systrom and Mike Kreiger to create the photo-sharing service, known as Instagram.
Now Instagram, an app that was recently bought out by Zuckerberg in 2012 for $400 million, is used to share photos and videos on a variety of different social media platforms. According to the Pew Research Center this past August, about 28% of the world uses Instagram (http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/19/the-demographics-of-social-media-users/). This statistic alone is a call that restaurants should be utilizing and optimizing Instagram to the best of their ability.
Here are five steps for Instagram marketing:
1) Use trending #hashtags
Basically every single picture that is posted on Instagram has some sort of trending hashtag. #tbt #nonewfriends #pizza #eatz, whatever - you get the point. But it works! The reason people use these hashtags is to bring awareness to their respective handles. For restaurants, it's a chance to bring awareness to their business and to the specific dish they are displaying on the picture.
2) Use niche #hashtags
Using a niche hashtag could bring an even more specific audience to your restaurant. If a person were to use one of these hashtags, it would be because they are basically showing the geographical location of the restaurant. Doing something simple like putting a hashtag before the city works too.
3) Photo contests
A contest is a great way to bring awareness to the restaurant. At the end of the day, everyone is on Instagram for the likes, right? By issuing out photo contests, it would bring some fun competition between the customers and it would bring some more awareness and a larger audience to the restaurant.
By incorporating this, the competitors followers would see their picture, the restaurants followers would see the picture and around and around we go! Also, the winner would get a certain gift from the restaurant and the restaurant would receive some more followers. Win/Win for all.
4) Pictures of the Menu
Because Instagram is constantly being used and browsed every hour of the day, the restaurant followers should have the capability of seeing the meals that are on the menus. It would behoove restaurants to use this opportunity to market their best dishes regularly.
5) Action shots of Employees
By taking photos of your staff using the product or the menu items, it would give followers an interesting perspective of what goes on behind the meal. It could be a chef, hostess, waiter, whatever. But these photos will show that your business values its employees and that they enjoy what they do and that customer service is important to your restaurant.