If your restaurant’s Instagram profile isn’t set up to elevate your online presence, reach new customers and engage your loyal fans, then you’re missing out. With more and more businesses joining the platform, and 1 billion users worldwide — most of them 18 to 34 years old in the U.S. — your restaurant has the chance to use Instagram to get more eyes on your brand and get more people in the door.
Instagram users are on the platform looking to connect with their favorite restaurants — 80 percent of users follow at least one business on the app, and many are looking to share their experiences on Instagram while dining out with their friends.
Some restaurants are even changing their lighting and decor to make their restaurant more aesthetically pleasing for their customers’ photo-taking and social-sharing needs.
4 ways to make your restaurant’s Instagram better
Here are some content ideas (and photography tips!) to elevate your grid and improve your ‘gram:
Showcase your menu, specials and events.
Shine the spotlight on your team.
Show off your indoor and outdoor space.
Share posts from your biggest fans.
So, how can your restaurant Instagram have better content to attract and engage these current and potential Instagram followers? Let’s find out!
1. Showcase your menu, specials and events
When your customers are scrolling through their Instagram, they want to find out new information about new restaurants and the ones they already love — keep your audience informed.
According to Instagram, 60 percent of Instagram users say they’ve heard about a new product and service through the app.
Let your fans know about your amazing brunch. Tell your fans that you just added a turkey reuben to your deli menu. Holding an event for Oktoberfest? Share photos of your themed decor, sausage and beers to get your fans in the door. Starting a Taco Tuesday promotion? Let your community know so they can come by. Snap a photo, add a thoughtful caption, mind the time of day and post.
Remind them of what makes your restaurant special and post a great shot of a delicious dish or people enjoying their experience at your restaurant on your Instagram.
Note: A restaurant’s Instagram feed can be disrupted by a low-quality, poorly-lit or badly-framed photo. See our photography tips throughout this post to make sure you’re snapping the best photos possible of your products and services.
Photography tip No. 1: Especially when it comes to food, lighting is key. Avoid using flash, because it makes food look unnatural. If you can take your food photo outside or near a window, natural lighting will complement your dish without being too harsh.
Here’s an example from Patsy’s Pizza taken outside with some hands and beverages to bring the human element into the photo.
2. Shine the spotlight on your team
Vary your posts and get some engagement by showing off your amazing team. Not only will your followers love seeing familiar faces in their feeds, but your team will appreciate the shout out and share the post with their family and friends. This kind of traction will get new eyes on your business and could gain you potential new followers.
Here’s an example from Austin restaurant, June’s All Day, with a great photo of an employee:
Photography tip No. 2: The example above has excellent use of framing. They’ve taken a photo of a bartender, but also shown off the space he’s in to give you a feel for what it’d be like to sit at that bar and order a cocktail. To achieve good framing, shoot at different angles. Try taking a photo from above, or at a 45-degree angle and include extra elements like silverware or chopsticks, the corner of your menu that shows your logo, hands, glasses, or napkins.
You can even add a mini bio about your team member like this restaurant, Clarke’s Standard, in Athens, Georgia, posted:
Meet Tosin Bey! She’s one of our awesome servers here at Clarke’s! She just recently graduated from UGA with Business Management, and she’s looking forward to some traveling in the new future. Her perfect meal at Clarke’s would be a Thick Chick Sandwich, with onion rings, and a mimosa. Say hey if you see her! ⠀ #clarkesathens #my_athens #exploreathens #exploregeorgia #uga #universityofgeorgia #godawgs
3. Show off your indoor and outdoor space
Remind your fans and followers what it’s like to visit your business, and give potential new fans some inside knowledge by showcasing your great patio or indoor space. Once they take a look at your inviting environment, they could be more willing to stop by for a visit. Be sure to add in important information like your happy hour specials, pet-friendly patio or availability for events.
Here’s an example of an inviting patio shot from Fresca’s, a local favorite in Austin, Texas, letting people know they can reserve their space for an event:
Interested in reserving a table on our patio to watch the World Cup final? If that’s a yes, we’ve got the perfect GIVEAWAY for you! Head on over to our friend @austinfoodstagram’s account to enter our giveaway for a reservation for 6 and a $150 giftcard to our World Cup Final Watch Party on the 15th! Think happy hour prices all day long and a 115” LED video wall on the patio…
Photography tip No. 3: Once you’ve taken a photo, it will need some editing. You can use the editing functions within any smartphone to crop and adjust the lighting as needed before adding the photo to Instagram.
While Instagram has a wide variety of filters, it’s recommended to use them sparingly on shots of food, because it will make the food look unnatural, and thus, less appetizing.
If you overly adjust the colors and tones, the photo will appear fake — if your photo needs more punch, try increasing the contrast and/or saturation slightly. Chances are, that’s all it needs.
4. Share posts from your biggest fans
Taking a look at what other users are posting about your brand or business on Instagram is a great way to share an engaging post on your feed.
The content your users post about your business provides a testimonial of their experience and a great opportunity for a reshare. Just remember to ask for permission to reshare, and when posting, thank and tag that user.
Here’s an example from Nashville restaurant, Bricktop’s, using a Repost app:
Sharing their posts not only shows that you have customers who love your business, but also that you are grateful that they stopped by and took the time to post about you. Plus, younger audiences appreciate this kind of content; it inspires them to share their own posts at your business. In fact, 51 percent of millennials say that user-generated content from people they don’t know is more likely to influence their purchase decisions than suggestions from people they do — like friends and family.
Use these tips to help your restaurant Instagram profile have better engagement through better content—allowing you to stay ahead of the competition.