I know you know it’s important; Instagram. Using it to build your followers and your customer base.
So, how do you go about navigating this tricky online platform? And how can you best use it to maximize your revenue and get new customers?
In this article, you’ll learn the 7 best tips for Instagram. To get new customers. To increase your following. To improve your engagement.
1: Be Human
People prefer to buy from people. Specifically, from people that they know, like, and trust.
This may seem obvious. But, too often, I see restaurants who communicate using corporate speak. Using phrases like “we appreciate our customers” and “thanks for choosing Wendy’s.”
So, showcase your most valuable assets, your team, and be human in your connection. Share your content in first person and use clever captions.
You can even use a restaurant Instagram caption database to give you clever captions which you can use to engage on a human level, showcase your sense of humor, and…
Starting discussions is an essential part of Instagram. Not only because it helps you engage your community and improve how you’re perceived by customers.
But also because it increases the amount of people that see your posts. And more people seeing your posts means more new followers, new engagements, and eventually new customers.
So, how do you go about creating conversations? First thing’s first; you must…
Reply To Comments
Yup. That’s right. Every single one.
Not only does replying to comments increase your engagement, the reach of your post, and the amount of engagements you’ll get, but it also gives you the opportunity to connect with your followers on a human level.
To demonstrate that you really care about their input and that you’re committed to a two-way customer relationship. Talk is cheap so your replies prove that they are valued as customers.
In addition to replying to comments, there’s one more cool feature you can use to acknowledge customers and notify them of your restaurant.
Every comment that gets replied to should also get liked.
Why? Because this is a friendly way to reinforce your positive affirmation of their comment and give them a second push notification that your restaurant is engaging with them.
It helps your audience feel valued and connected to your restaurant – which is definitely a huge factor in how frequently they’ll return and engage with your posts.
So, we’ve now covered 2 out of the 3 most important factors for Instagram comments.
The third most important factor for create conversations is…
2: Tag People
This one is only for you if you’re the type of person who likes to go above and beyond.
Here’s how it works in practice. Basically, imagine that you notice that Bob your regular really loves your chicken parmesan with spaghetti. And you know you have a post of chicken parmesan with spaghetti coming soon. A great way to demonstrate to Bob that you care about him and that you value his loyalty is to tag him on the post in a friendly way and use it to start a conversation.
Example: @bob 😋your favorite
This tip definitely isn’t scalable. But that’s the point. Most human connection things aren’t.
That’s why they’re so rare and that’s why they’re so valuable. Because they require putting in extra effort to acknowledge your customers and make them feel valued.
So, now that we’ve covered how to create conversations in your comments section, I’ve got a great tip for you on how to earn comments in the first place.
3: Ask Questions
That’s right. Ask questions. Questions like “what is your favorite dish?” or “what do you think about our famous meatballs?.”
Notice how the questions cannot be answered in a simple “yes” or “no”. That’s called an open-ended question.
Open-ended questions are great because they’ll prompt people to reply, basically increasing engagement on your post, and giving you the opportunity to engage them in conversation about your dishes. And, as we saw before, more engagement means Instagram shows your post to more people.
And not just more of your followers. You get exposure to people who are like the people you committed. Their friends and other people who Instagram thinks would like your content.
Which means more impressions, a greater reach, and eventually more new customers for you.
4: Perfect Your Look
Instagram is a mostly visual platform. And, on a mostly visual platform, your looks are everything. So, really master your photography and food editing skills or have someone on your team do it.
For example, which photo version do you think performs better on social media?
If so, here’s a quick mini guide you can use to edit your food pictures to the top performing style on Instagram. The style that all of the top food influencers and many top restaurants use.
- Download the Snapseed app for iPhone or Android
- Crop by following the “rule of thirds” and using a square aspect ratio (available in Snapseed) to emphasize the best part of the photograph
- If it’s a single dish photograph, crop in tight on almost entirely the food
- If it’s a multiple dish arrangement, crop to highlight the food of multiple dishes
- If it’s an ambience shot, use your best judgement.
- Apply the following Snapseed settings
- Brightness +10
- Contrast +13
- Saturation +18
- Ambiance +10
- Warmth +7
- Save each photo to your camera roll by tapping EXPORT, SAVE A COPY
- Your masterpiece is complete. Now upload to Instagram and enjoy.
Plus, if you’re like most restaurants, you have a team full of mostly young people.
Speaking of which, we’re going to hop off topic for a moment to give you a…
Instagram Value Hack For Restaurants
You can use your young, social media savvy team members to your advantage and get them to maximize their value to your investment by giving them a free Instagram for restaurant guide like this one and making creating and posting content part of their responsibilities.
That guide is extremely easy to follow and will empower the team members you delegate it to to learn valuable skills while they’re working for you.
5: Use Influencers
Imagine a world where there was a special class of people that everyone else especially trusted. Trusted to give them recommendations. And advise them on buying decisions.
Good news for you. That’s the one we live in.
In fact, 40% of young people think that influencers understand them more than their friends and family. Now that’s some serious opportunity for restaurants.
Because, in every city, there are food influencers that have massive followings and post about the best food in the city – complete with pictures. The best part about their posts, though? That happens in the comments section.
Not only does the post come from a source which they know, like, and trust but people also get to see influencer posts showcasing your content with tons of engagement. Likes and comments.
Those are signs of what is called social proof. And social proof is arguably is the most important factor that people use in making their buying decisions.
Because something being loved by many is a good sign that you’ll like it too.
6: Geotag. Always.
Using geotags is another great way to get new customers. Why? Because they allow you to target people in your city and reach the people who would be especially interested in your restaurant, for free.
So, any time you post, alternate between geotagging to your restaurant name, to your street, and to your city.
And, if you get a lot of engagement on your geotagged posts, your post will “stick” to the top and get you super valuable exposure any time someone searches for your restaurant.
That’s super valuable because there are hundreds of people in your city that check geotags every week for ideas on places to go and things to do. It’s also the the perfect opportunity for you to reach them for your restaurant: because they’re actively looking for something to do and nearby.
It’s also why I advise alternating geotags. Because it’s super powerful to be able to trend at the top of a geotag and get free exposure as a result. It’s also instant social proof to be trending on a geotag and we already covered the numerous benefits of that.
Speaking of tags, there’s one more very important type that you should use to your advantage.
7: Use Strategic Hashtags
These can be used very similarly to geotags. But there’s a twist. They can also give you the opportunity for global exposure, in addition to local exposure.
The best way to tag your posts is in the first comment, not the caption. Because putting hashtags in your restaurant caption ruins the aesthetic of the post and decreases engagement rate. And there’s no downside to putting them in the first comment of your post.
So, each of your restaurant Instagram posts should contain these hashtags for best results.
In addition, you should include these hashtag types that are specific to your location.
- Example: #westhollywood
- Example: #weho #wehofood
- Example: #sunsetblvd
- Example: #dominos
These hashtags are best for reaching more interested locals.
And you also have a greater chance of trending at the top of these hashtags, which will boost your engagement rate and drive new customers to you that are local and likely to become customers.
The reason for this being that local hashtags are less competitive and your restaurant Instagram content is most relevant there.
To summarize the 7 best tips you can use on Instagram:
- Be human. Engage. Converse. Connect. That’s why people are on social media.
- Tag people. Use your posts to speak directly to top customers. To demonstrate that you value them and to create a conversation with them about the best parts of your restaurant.
- Ask questions. The best way to start a conversation is to take an interest in the other person, right? Same thing applies on Instagram. Ask open-ended questions to boost engagement and start conversations about your brand.
- Perfect your look. Instagram is a social platform. But it’s also a visual one. So edit your posts using the proven style above to create an engaging and appealing aesthetic.
- Use influencers. People trust influencers. And if you can get the ones in your city talking about you, and telling the people who followed them to learn more about great local restaurants about how great you are, you will have won. Period.
- Geotag. Always. Alternate between tagging your restaurant, your street, and your city.
- Use strategic hashtags. Use the first comment on each of your posts to comment your strategic hashtags, described earlier. They’ll help you reach more locals, engage more people, and maximize your results on Instagram.
Now that you’ve got the best tips to succeed on Instagram, what are you going to do about it?
Will you take action? Or be like most, and not apply what you’ve learned?
The choice is yours.
About the Author
Adam Guild is the CEO of Placepull and writes on restaurant marketing for Forbes. This year, Modern Restaurant Management Magazine called him “the 19 year old revolutionizing restaurant marketing” because his company has helped hundreds of restaurants across the United States increase revenue.