Diners salivating over a delicious dish from the kitchen often whip out their smartphones before their forks ever touch the plate. The phenomenon of documenting food on social media, often nicknamed food porn, has reached a frenzy. Scientific evidence demonstrates food porn’s prowess, as these images generate hunger and lead us to consume additional calories. While some restaurateurs bemoan simpler days when customers simply ate the food, others are finding food porn can serve as a business boon.
As the old expression goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” If you’re interested in making a big splash for your restaurant on Instagram, use the following 5 tips to drive this marketing strategy forward.
1. Encourage Patrons with Giveaways
For some restaurant owners, too many Instagram snaps isn’t the problem. Instead, they’re struggling to gain any traction online. If you find yourself in a similar boat, consider using free food or giveaways to get your customers snapping. Many restaurants will pick winners at random from entries hashtagged with the name of the eatery.
2. Build Your Own Profile
Asking customers to share their food shots is one way to increase your exposure, but don’t leave your social media strategy up to your diners. Instead, build your own profile and interact with your customers online. Comment on photos they’ve shared, create a following by sharing interesting content, and promote your Instagram on your marketing materials to grow your following.
3. Think Beyond Food
Food photography has an undeniable impact in restaurant marketing, but your business is about more than the food alone. Instagram can be used to take your followers on a journey. From documenting what takes place in the kitchen to showcasing new products or services, there are plenty of intuitive ways to keep the attention of your followers without resorting to the same tired pictures of your favorite dishes.
4. Use Hashtags to Expand Your Reach
Using hashtags is a simple way for followers in your digital community to find relevant content. Don’t be afraid to join the conversation by using popular hashtags like #TBT (Throwback Thursday). If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, consider responding to current events on your Instagram feed.
Oreo won marketing accolades during the Superbowl 2013 by tweeting out an image of its signature product, along with the caption, “You can still dunk in the dark.” (The image was in response to the blackout that caused the game to be paused for several minutes). Consider taking a similar approach, but be sure not to spam with irrelevant hashtags that could hurt your digital reputation. Instead, link the event to your food in creative ways.
5. Share Your Photos Outside of Instagram
Instagram is a great destination for starting the conversation with food photography, but don’t limit yourself to interactions on this social network. Instagram is most popular with 18-29 year old consumers, and women use the platform more than men. Connect with other segments of the market by linking your Instagram photos with additional social accounts. It takes next to no effort and it automatically boosts your clout, ensuring your photos are seen by the largest audience possible.