Instagram Marketing for Restaurants: 10 Tips for Reaching More Customers

By Raubi Perilli |

  | Jun 4, 2021  /  Solutions |

Social media is the perfect place for restaurants to both reach new customers and keep in touch with existing customers. Find out how Instagram for restaurants can be a powerful way for local eateries, bars, and cafes to build brand fans and drive in diners.

10 Instagram Marketing Tips for Restaurants

Instagram is a great low-cost marketing idea for restaurants. Here are ten ways to get started using it for your local business.

#1) Set goals and develop an editorial plan.

The key to strong Instagram marketing is consistency. If your plan is to simply jump on Instagram and post whatever comes to mind whenever it comes to mind, your results will suffer. Instead, start by listing your goals and what you want to get out of Instagram. Then, create an editorial plan that will help you get there. Outline when you will post, what type of content you will share, and who will be responsible for sticking to the schedule.  

Related: The "Must Haves" for Every Small Business Social Media Strategy

#2) Don’t just share food photos and content.

When you lay out your editorial plan, list the type of content that you will share on that day. Change it up so you aren’t just sharing food photos every. Utilize other themes that will resonate with your audience.  

  • Share behind-the-scenes content that showcases your kitchen, staff, and unique way of doing things.
  • Promote daily specials in your stories so customers know what is going on at your restaurant each day.
  • Feature your limited-time offers to drive interest and promote urgency. Use a countdown to remind followers that the item won’t last forever.
  • Promote your events in advance and on the day of.
  • Repost your customers' content. They will love to get tagged by you, and you don’t even need to create the content!

Related: Social Media Content Ideas: What to Share Through Your Brand Pages

#3) Take high-quality photos of your food.

A good Instagram marketing for restaurant strategy will include posting photos of your food items. But, don’t just haphazardly take snapshots of items as they come out of the kitchen. Be intentional about taking high-quality photos of your food.  

  • Plan a day to take a lot of photos that will provide content for weeks or months to come.
  • Style your food with accents, drinks, and table settings.
  • Don’t rely on your camera flash. Invest in a lighting solution that will bring out the details of your food.

For more ideas, check out this list of tips for taking enticing food photos from ChowNow.

#4) Batch and schedule your content.

When you are running a restaurant, you are busy. You might not always have the time to stop and post social content for the day. So instead, batch and schedule your content. For example, spend one day creating content for the month and then use a tool like Later or Hootsuite to schedule your posts to go live on their own.  

Related: The 7 Types of Marketing Automation Any Local Business Can Use

#5) Use Stories and Reels.

Instagram marketing for restaurants is no longer just about Posts. If you want to reach more people, add Instagram Stories and Reels to your strategy. Both of these are newer features for Instagram so the platform has been pushing them out to users more frequently than posts. Use them to reach new followers and better engage the people already following you.  

Pro Tip: Use the “Food Order” sticker in your Stories to prompt people to order food directly from Instagram.

#6) Use the right hashtags and enable tagging your location.

People find new content on Instagram through hashtags and location tags. Use hashtags in each of your posts. Use terms that are related to your type of food (think #TacoTuesday and #PizzaLovers) but also use hashtags related to your area to reach local customers (add in your city such as #TampaEats or #StPeteFoodies). Audiences also find new places by seeing other people tag their location. Use these step-by-step directions by Fanbooster to create a location for your business on Instagram so other customers can tag your restaurant in their content.

#7) Optimize your profile page to drive action.

When people discover your restaurant on Instagram, they will likely pop over to your profile to learn more. Spend time crafting a bio that explains what you offer, what makes you different, and where you are located. Add an “Order Food” or “Reserve” button so people can quickly take action. Also, utilize the link field. Use a tool like Linktree or create a page on your website to act as an Instagram splash page where you feature the most important links such as “Make a Reservation,” “View Menu,” and “See Specials.”

#8) Partner with local influencers.

Just being on Instagram isn’t enough to boost your brand visibility. You need to promote your page and get it in front of customers. One way to do that is by leveraging the power of local influences. Local influencers are individuals or brands that have a large local following on Instagram. Look for accounts that people in your community follow, and reach out to them to see if they would like to partner with your brand for a few sponsored posts. The exposure from these accounts can get you right in front of your target audience.

#9) Run a contest.

Another way to build up a following on Instagram is by running a contest. Social media contests are a powerful way to reach more users -- and also generate leads and sales. For brand awareness, run a contest that encourages people to share your content and tag their friends. Then, for converting existing followers, run a contest to encourage people to join your email list and offer a coupon to every person who participates.  

Related: How to Run a Social Media Contest That Converts & Drives Sales

#10) Pay to promote -- for a bit.

Organic traffic isn’t always enough to build an initial following on social media. If you want to see real results using Instagram marketing for restaurants, set a budget for some paid promotional posts. Get the most out of each paid ad by using hypertargeting to reach the people most likely to be interested in your business. Also, leverage retargeting ads so you can put your brand back in front of people who have already shown interest in or connected with your brand in another way. Paid digital advertising is a good way to give your restaurant a boost before you start spreading organically across Instagram.

Build Better Marketing Programs for For Your Restaurant

Instagram is just one way for restaurants to reach local customers around their business. For more tips on how to market your restaurant to attract and engage more nearby customers, check out our other guides:  

Or, sign up to join mySuite to get all of these articles and more along with access to our suite of local marketing tools. Create your business profile, get industry knowledge, and reach new customers all with your free account that you can create in just a few clicks.  

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