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Instagram Marketing Tips To Maximize Your Restaurant’s Growth

by | Sep 27, 2019

Is your restaurant on Instagram? If not, make 2019 the year your restaurant takes the Instagram world by storm! If, however, your restaurant is already active on the social media channel, stick around. We’re going to share our best Instagram marketing tips to help you boost engagement, get more followers, and sell more food. So, get ready to leverage the power of hashtags and foodporn!

Instagram + Food = Marriage Made In Restaurant Heaven

Instagram is probably the most significant growth vehicle for the modern restaurant. The popular social media platform has an astounding one billion users worldwide. And, you guessed it: many of them love good food!

Famous chefs and restauranteurs recognize this. In fact, the biggest food accounts on Instagram belong to household names like Jamie Oliver, Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman), Gordon Ramsey, Martha Stewart, and Yolanda Gampp.

Even major news networks like BBC and CNN agree that Instagram is changing the way people engage with restaurants.

So, tapping into the power of Instagram is a surefire way to boost your restaurant’s sales, create loyal customers, and leapfrog over the competition.

Understanding the Power of Instagram

With over 1 billion users that like 3.5 billion posts daily, Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform on the planet. And, it’s only 5 years old! Not only do 6 in 10 American adults have Instagram accounts, but it’s also frequented by a sizable population of young, engaged users. Additionally, over 60% of users check their Instagram accounts daily, and they create over 100 million posts a day.

For restaurants, Instagram is a gold mine.

Here’s why:

Saying that Instagram is a powerful vehicle for growth is an understatement. So, how can your restaurant tap into this rich userbase to drive profits?

5 Instagram Marketing Tips to Help You Dominate The Dining Scene

Savvy restauranteurs know how influential Instagram is, and they leave no stone unturned in extracting value from the platform. In 2017, a London restaurant called Dirty Bones trotted out Instagram kits to its customers. Each kit came with a selfie stick and tripod. As a result, diners began posting Dirty Bones dishes on Instagram. Aside from the daring campaign, the restaurant’s marketing strategy also garnered it worldwide attention. How’s that for chutzpah?

Without further ado, here are our best Instagram marketing tips.

1. Leverage Food Porn To Your Advantage

Think video is the king of Instagram? Think again! Photos still have better engagement rates than videos. And there’s nothing Instagram users love more than sharing photos of food. 69% of Millennials take photos of their food before they take their first bite.

And, people LOVE to see your brand post food images online. There are almost 100 million posts with the hashtag #foodporn, and that number grows by the second — literally!

For restaurants looking to dominate Instagram, beautiful food is your golden ticket. Here’s the thing. It’s not enough to post beautiful food on your account. You want other people to start sharing your food on their own.

Think about leveraging picture-perfect images on your menus. Also, feel free to pay influencers for some extra street cred. Not only do 70% of teenagers trust influencers, but 4 in 10 think they understand them better than their own family!

2. Use Hashtags The Right Way

Hashtags help your post get discovered. So, when you post that gorgeous food porn, be sure to hashtag the type of food you’re offering, your restaurant’s name, and its location. Additionally, you should think about adding one of the following hashtags to get better reach.

  • #food (+188 million)
  • #foodporn (+86 million)
  • #yummy (+75 million)
  • #foodie (+31 million)
  • #fresh (+30 million)
  • #foodgasm (+16 million)
  • #hungry (+15 million)

Certainly, hashtags help diners filter through the overwhelming number of brands on Instagram. More importantly, they also encourage consumers to share their own experiences with your brand using the same hashtags!

3. Use The Right Analytics To Figure Out What Your Customers Love

This is where the right online ordering system comes in. It can provide intelligent data to help you derive crucial insights about consumer preferences. You’ll know what your customers are ordering and which dishes earn you the most profits.

With that information in hand, begin creating posts centered around the most popular food items. Not only will this drive more traffic to your site, but it will also increase shares and user-generated content. Ultimately, you raise your revenues. That’s a win-win scenario!

4. Interact With Your Diners On Instagram

It’s not enough to be popular. You have to be engaging, as well. Did you know that 65% of Instagram users would be FLATTERED or HONORED if you simply liked one of their posts?

Liking a post takes just 2 seconds!

So, be sure to reply to users who comment on your posts. Additionally, you’ll want to visit their profiles and like some of their content. You want to forge real, tangible relationships with your followers. This will help you grow your brand faster. Also, it will encourage your followers to become brand ambassadors, which comes with a whole host of additional benefits beyond purchasing your tasty meals.

5. Make It Easy For Instagram Users To Order Your Food

Once you begin getting new followers, you’ll want to go to the next phase of your marketing campaign. Remember, not everyone will be interested in visiting your brick and mortar restaurant. At least, not at first. So, you need to give them options.

You can do this by giving your users the ability to order food online! Trust us: they’re already doing ordering other food online. 60% of diners order food online AT LEAST once a week. Additionally, 31% use 3rd party ordering apps twice a week. You want to wean your potential diners off those apps! Here’s why: 3rd party delivery systems will cut into your profits and take a good 20 – 30% off the top of your earnings.

Instagram is the perfect place to break that trend. Let your customers know you have a killer online ordering system of your own. And, let them know how rewarding it will be to use it.

The Anatomy of an Instagram-friendly Online Ordering System

Here’s food for thought: 30% of Millennials avoid restaurants without an active Instagram presence. Additionally, 18 – 35 year-olds spend around 5 days a year browsing food on Instagram.

So, winning on Instagram involves marketing to young diners. Note, however, that these diners enjoy ordering takeout. Millennials order online 20% more than Gen X. Meanwhile, Gen Z orders online even more than Millennials: 24% order food online two to three times every single week! We aren’t talking about a small demographic, either. Next year, Gen Z will account for 40% of ALL restaurant diners.

That means that your online menu is a core component of Instagram success. You’ll be driving traffic to an image-rich menu that encourages users to order a bite and take photos to liven up their Instagram accounts.

More Instagram Marketing Tips: Leverage These 6 Core Components Of Your Online Portal To Get More Orders

The new Instagram algorithm places more emphasis on relationships and user interest. Bottom line: the more you engage with users (through replies and comments), the higher the likelihood of your posts appearing at the top of their feeds.

Here’s what your online ordering portal should offer:

  1. Image-centric menus: To Gen Z, eating is both a visual and visceral experience. You want to entice them with the food porn that they’re used to seeing on Instagram. So, if the images of your cuisine aren’t slick and shiny, they’re going to be disappointed.
  2. Password-free login: Instagram is primarily frequented by the younger set. So, you want to make sure their experience on your online ordering system is short and sweet. Research shows that Gen Z has an 8-second attention span. Don’t waste those 8 seconds on a login page.
  3. Easy ordering and re-ordering: Make sure that your ordering system is easy-to-use. You don’t want a young Instagram diner to arrive at your portal only to face slow loading speeds and a complex ordering infrastructure. 60% of Gen Z will leave your online ordering system if it loads slowly. Remember, you only have 8 seconds to make a good impression!
  4. Mobile first: Gen Z is 2x more likely to shop on their phones than any other generation. 68% of them prefer to purchase items through their mobile devices. This isn’t surprising given that the majority of Gen Z had their first phones by age 12!
  5. Easy promos: Running promos is a great way to encourage your Instagram followers to check out your brand. Be sure to give them a discount for following your profile! Just make sure that your online ordering system can handle these campaigns.
  6. Feedback tool: You need to know about problems before they become issues. 74% of Millennials expect you to immediately respond to any problems they have. Additionally, you want to respond to those problems before they become reviews. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust their friends. Make sure that your online ordering system gives you the ability to immediately respond to ordering issues.

5 Killer Restaurant Instagram Profiles to Steal Ideas From

Want to see some restaurants that definitely understand how to Gram? Check them out and glean the best Instagram marketing tips you can find this side of the Western hemisphere!

#1 Taco Bell

It’s Doritos Locos time! Taco Bell is an old hand at Instagram marketing. The popular chain restaurant currently has 1.3 million followers and an impressive engagement rate. In fact, Taco Bell was one of the first fast-casual megachains to leverage the power of digital marketing.

And it’s definitely helped! The Taco Bell Instagram profile has become a mecca for foodies.

Every photo on its page is perfectly synergized. Vivid imagery in neon pinks, blues, oranges, and reds bombard your senses immediately.

Taco Bell also leverages the right marketing campaigns to get insights about consumer preferences.

#2 California Donuts

If you were on a diet, you’ll likely quit after seeing this Instagram account.

This is a perfect example of how you leverage thematic food porn to the hilt. Every image is filled with cute, decorative donuts that scream to be devoured.

Additionally, California Donuts also uses its Instagram account to introduce promo campaigns. This, in turn, helps drive traffic to its brick and mortar restaurant.

#3 Last Straw

How do you market a restaurant that screams 80s-on-the-beach vibe?

Answer: You use Instagram!

This Austin (Texas) island eatery shows you how to revamp your image on Instagram and use it as a branding pillar to increase conversions and earn new brand ambassadors. Yet, Last Straw has under 10k followers. Where it wins is the level of engagement it’s able to inspire in its fans.

First, it holds watching parties of popular TV shows, and it publicizes the events through the platform with cheesy imagery and funny captions. Next, it regularly posts images that riff off that 80s on-the-island vibe. Bottom line? You don’t have to be the most popular restaurant to win on Instagram.

#4 The Shed BBQ

Taco Bell and California Donuts nail thematic food storytelling perfectly. Now, let’s explore a more rustic location.

The Shed BBQ is a carnivore’s wet dream. This Mississippi-based BBQ joint’s Instagram is filled with pictures of roasting pigs and mountains of meat drenched in BBQ sauce. Here’s what The Shed does right:

#5 Cha Cha Matcha

There are over 26,000 restaurants in New York City. In fact, it would take you over 27 years to eat at every single one. So, finding a way to stand out in NYC is critical to success.

That said, nothing stands out quite like flamingo pink interiors flanked by tropical trees and quirky signs. This New York City matcha joint is handmade for Instagram. The entire interior and exterior of the building scream, “Please take my picture and upload it to Instagram.”

However, beyond the beautiful palettes of pink and light green lies a novel Instagram strategy. Sure, Cha Cha definitely sticks to a specific color set, but it also leverages Instagram in unique ways:

Get More Instagram Marketing Tips By Partnering With 9Fold

Winning at Instagram requires a combination of rich imagery and vibrant engagement campaigns.

However, it also requires something else: the right online ordering portal.

That said, the 9Fold portal is an easy-to-use, data-rich online ordering system that’s built with YOU in mind. It gives you the power to add gorgeous food porn photos to your menus. Additionally, it offers the features you need to execute promotion campaigns and respond to customer criticism before they end up on Yelp. If you’d like to learn more about how your restaurant can leverage the above Instagram marketing tips to advantage, contact us. Don’t get left behind on the Instagram train!

Own a restaurant? Let’s chat.

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