Social Media Marketing

5 Tips to Maximize Instagram’s Potential for Your Restaurant

January, 2016 · By Deborah Fiorentino

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.

5 Steps for a More Effective Social Media Marketing Plan for 2016

January, 2016 · By Deborah Fiorentino

Social media has radically redefined how modern brands think about marketing to consumers, but many small businesses struggle to hit the right note with their customers. Without the proper direction, your social media efforts will likely fall flat. If you’re tired of lackluster results from your social marketing endeavors, use these five simple steps to develop a more effective marketing plan for the new year.

1. Consistency: Sticking to Your Commitment

Many businesses join networks like Twitter and Facebook with the best of intentions, only to flake on their marketing efforts a few months later. Think of your social campaigns like a snowball rolling down the hill. The snowball starts small, but it can only grow if you keep pushing it. Use this simple guide to understand how frequently you need to post to maximize engagement.

You also need to ensure that your status updates feel cohesive. The Content Marketing Institute recommends considering the imagery, tone, and subject matter of your updates. Don’t confuse your followers with a disjointed message.

2. Engaging: Remember, Social Networking is a Conversation.

Plenty of small businesses treat their social networking efforts as little more than a promotional vehicle. Instead of stepping on your soapbox and yelling about your upcoming sale, use your social platforms to engage with your customers. Respond to their messages, and don’t be afraid to inject a bit of personality into your conversations. Effective social marketers foster better relationships through consistently interactions.

3. Relevance: Does Your Content Matter?

The world’s most successful social marketers understand the importance of sharing content that is relevant to a brand’s message. Unlike blog posts or newsletter copy, social shares are often brief and to the point. This doesn’t mean relevancy should fly out the window, however. Focus on crafting updates that make sense as part of the bigger picture. This will help you grow your following organically, while converting casual followers into fervent brand devotees.

4. Sharing: Forget the “One & Done” Approach

Most marketers use their social accounts as a way of sharing content from their website, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this technique. It’s important to remember, however, that only a small fraction of your followers see each individual update. Kissmetrics advises sharing your content multiple times, in order to connect with the largest audience possible.

5. Images: Boost the Impact of Your Updates

It’s always easiest to share a small written message with your followers, but images have consistently been proven to increase engagement on social networks. For example, including an image can increase your retweets on Twitter by 150%. If you’re feeling ambitious, you might also want to consider using video to further captivate your digital audience.

Much like any other marketing tool, social networking takes plenty of hard work. By building a thoughtful marketing strategy as you head into the new year, you’ll ensure your social efforts don’t go unnoticed. Make updating your accounts part of your daily routine, and with a bit of luck, you should see your engagement increasing as time moves forward.