Instagram 101 For Restaurants

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How many times have you taken a picture of your food before eating it? Millions of people do, and then they post them on social media for all the world to see. As a restaurant owner, this is something you want to capitalize on. People like to see good food (and they like to eat it too), and if you can broadcast the foods you are serving up online through your social media channels, more people are going to come into your restaurant, with a whetted appetite and hungry bellies.

Now, there are many social media platforms out there, and to succeed as a business, you might want to consider quite a few of them within your digital marketing efforts. But its Instagram that you should really be focussed on, as the photos you and your customers post on there can do much to showcase the fabulous foods you serve in your restaurant. 

So, where do you start? Well, you set up an Instagram account for starters. Then focus on the following points to ensure your restaurant is set up for success on the popular social media platform.

mobile photography at the grill

Ensure Your Instagram Account Is Search Friendly

You want to make sure people find your Instagram page, so when choosing your profile name, include the name of your city along with your restaurant name. This will make your page search-friendly. You should add searchable keywords in your profile description too. These might include your locale, the type of restaurant that you own, and some of the foods you serve. And make sure your profile is set to public, as people won’t be able to find you otherwise.

There is lots of advice in this guide on optimizing your Instagram account for search engines, so follow the tips within when setting up your account. The next step, of course, is making sure your Instagram page is worthy of attention.

Add Your Photos



View this post on Instagram


Lamb Koftes, Pomegranate and Mint Salad and Tzatziki for lunch today on the terrace at Brinkley’s Garden! 😋😎😋😎😋😎😋😎😋😎

A post shared by Brinkley’s (@brinkleysrestaurant) on

An Instagram account is nothing without photos, so focus on the visual side of your restaurant when setting up your page. The trick is to stick to a consistent color palette, as your page will look messy if your content contrasts too much and is randomly placed. Your restaurant probably has its own color palette anyway, so use photos that reflect your brand. Admittedly, this might take up some of your time when trying to get everything looking perfect on your page, but you can master your layout using this Instagram Grid Planner


Your focus should be on the foods you serve, of course, so make sure they look presentable before taking your photos and try to blend them in with the color aesthetic you are focussing on. You might also take pictures of the interior of your restaurant too, paying special attention to those aspects that are eye-catching and interesting. So, you might take pictures of your wall and table decor, for example, and perhaps even your happy customers too if they give you permission. 


If you think you have what it takes with a camera, use these food photography tips when taking your pictures. With the right lighting, staging, and positioned angles, your photos will look much better than something that has been randomly snapped. If you aren’t au fait with a camera, turn to members of your staff team if they are better than you, or hire a professional photographer on occasion if you have the budget to do so.

Create Your Restaurant Hashtag

Your hashtag will inform your customers what to include when they post photos in your restaurant, so make mention of it in your bio so they make use of it. This will help you keep track of user-generated content and, with your customer’s permission, you might then use some of their photos on your Insta-page if you think they would make an excellent addition.


For your information, check out the trending hashtags for restaurants, and use them when posting content on your account.


We also recommend this article on how restaurants can use hashtags, so check out the info within and learn more about this marketing strategy.

Plan Your Content Around Social Media Holidays

There are loads of commemorative food days that generate interest on Instagram, including National Ice Cream Day in July, International Beer Day in August, and World Vegan Day in November. So, use a social media food calendar to ensure your content is trending and relevant, and use the trending hashtags to ensure your posts are seen by the masses. Use these events when planning your marketing campaign, and focus on any other commemorative days too, such as #NationalFriendshipDay which could form the basis of the content you produce for Instagram.

Integrate Instagram With Your Other Marketing Efforts

You will hopefully pick up lots of Instagram followers, but you don’t need to share your Insta-content with them alone. You could share your photos on Facebook and Twitter, with links back to your Instagram page. 


Instagram also has an embed feature, so you can use this to copy and paste your Instagram photo’s code into your website.


You can also direct people back to your website and other social media pages from your Instagram account, so remember to add the appropriate links to increase customer engagement. 


And remember to encourage your customers to share news of your business with their social media followers. When it comes to Instagram, you might even give your customers an award for the best photos they have shared online through their Instagram accounts. You might give them a free meal or a discount, for example, as this will give them the incentive to share with others. For more on this, check out this guide on how to run a successful Instagram contest

Partner With Influencers


View this post on Instagram


INGREDIENTS 🍃🧀✨ for a new risoni (orzo) pasta recipe coming later this week! i’ll also be making this one LIVE on the weekend 🤗 stay tuned x

A post shared by Ashley Alexander (@gatherandfeast) on

Influencer marketing is a big thing these days, especially in the food business. There are loads of influencers online sharing photos of the food they have eaten at restaurants, and they have an army of followers who will be influenced by the shout outs they give to the businesses they like. 


It’s not too difficult to find popular food influencers on Instagram, as their posts will often be trending online. The link we have provided you with will guide you towards some of them, so it’s worth getting in touch with them if you can. Admittedly, you will sometimes have to pay a small fee (on top of the meal you give to them), but as they can influence a lot of people with their Instagram posts, you might still make a considerable profit because of them.


It’s also worth tracking down food bloggers who have their own Instagram accounts too. They will have their own army of followers and readers and they might be willing to post comments and pictures of your food on both their Instagram and blog pages. They might even do it for free if you include their photos on your page with a link to their online pages.

Use Story Highlights

Every picture tells a story, right? Well, you can tell a bigger story if you have a series of other pictures! Instagram incorporates something called Story Highlights, wherein you can create a series of photos that people can scroll through to learn more about your restaurant. 


For your business, you might break up your menu into categories that can be easily scrolled through, or you might include photos of your team. You could work with a customer or influencer and create a story of the customer journey from the beginning of their meal to the end, or you could show how certain foods are made in your kitchen.


You can make Story Highlight covers too, as these can encourage your customers to click on them. Use Instagram’s own feature to do this or use a third-party tool such as Canva to create your covers. 


You can learn more about Story Highlights here, so have a read, and then include them on your Instagram page to encourage more views. 

Interact With Your Followers

We have already mentioned photo contests, but there are other ways you can interact with your followers too. 


You could ask them for their opinions, for example. So, if you were to come up with a new dish, you might ask your customers to vote on a name for it. Or you could ask them to share pictures of your latest offerings on their Instagram pages. 


You might also reward your customers if they reach a certain number of shares when posting content about your restaurant, and you could display their best photos on your page.


And on a very basic level, you could react to the comments they post on your page, and you could follow some of your customers’ Instagram pages too.


The more you interact, the greater their engagement with you, and that could increase their loyalty.


Contact Us

Instagram is an excellent social media platform for your marketing strategy, so we hope you found our advice useful. For more support on this aspect of digital marketing, and to learn about the other ways you can market your business online, get in touch with our specialist team. We can help you with your marketing campaign and can give you the tools and techniques you need to take maximize customer interest in your restaurant. 


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