We’ve all seen it: That person who constantly posts pictures of their food on social media. Whether it’s home cooked meal or their platter of sushi during an evening out, they’re sure to let all of their followers know about each and every meal they consume. It can be rather annoying…but it doesn’t stop there; Even those of us who don’t post every meal on social media are occasionally guilty of snapping a picture of our well-presented (or poorly presented) food and sharing it.
According to eMarketer, there are 400 million active users on Instagram, 77.6 million of them right here in America.
For most, posting pictures of their food on Instagram has nothing to do with promoting the restaurant they just ate at. It’s for their own enjoyment, so it’s hard to imagine the significance those pictures have on restaurants. For restaurant owners, customers’ photos at their restaurants are far more important than getting ‘likes’ from followers. These photos are free word-of-mouth marketing for restaurants. Afterall, other Instagram users see these posts, like these posts, and comment on these posts.
As human beings, we are naturally intrigued by visual content. Seeing a friend’s picture of food at your restaurant may be all it takes for them to visit your restaurant for the first time. Even if a customer’s post doesn’t bring new clientele to your restaurant, it builds brand awareness in the viewers who saw the post.
Instagram, and social media in general, can be overwhelming for businesses if they’re never engaged in it before. Some restaurant owners fear negative customer feedback online and avoid social media altogether. But as our society continues to devote more time to social media, it’s important that restaurants jump on the opportunity for free marketing.
Top 3 reasons your restaurant should use Instagram:
Gain More Clientele
For Instagram users with a heavy influence or a large follower base, their posts are viewed by many, meaning more exposure for your restaurant. These viral posts have the ability to garner a whole new clientele for your restaurant. The more people their post reaches, the greater exposure your restaurant receives. Don’t disregard the average Instagram user either. Their posts hold value too, for your restaurant that is. The potential of a post is limitless; you never know who it could reach. There are more than 178 million photos tagged with #food on Instagram and 56 million tagged with #foodporn, which goes to show just how obsessed people are with sharing pictures of their food!
This word-of-mouth marketing is completely FREE, costing you nothing more than providing tasty (and attractive) food to your patrons. There’s nothing better than a happy customer sharing their positive experience or delectable plate at your restaurant online. You not only have a happy customer who’s likely to return, you also get free publicity from their visit.
Your restaurant can only include a clickable link in its Instagram bio — not on the posts themselves. This means that you’re likely to see very little in the way of clickthroughs to your restaurant’s website via Instagram — but that’s not the objective. Rather than thinking of Instagram as a tool to drive visitors to your restaurant’s website, utilize is as a platform for reputation management and customer relations.
The best way to utilize these trends is to embrace the changes and use them to your advantage. Make presentation a vital component to your menu. Emphasize to chefs that the way a meal tastes is of equal importance to how it looks on the plate. “I’ll be honest. If I have a better looking dish, I give that one to the people taking photos,” says Benedict Reade, the former chef at Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen who recently opened a pop-up restaurant in Scotland. As intimidating as it may be, your restaurant absolutely needs Instagram on its side, and the only way to do this effectively is to enlist your customers as your soldiers for the front line.
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