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6 Proven Ways to Use Instagram for Restaurant Marketing

April 25, 2016 12:00 pm Published by

When you log on to Instagram, you know what types of photos to expect. Fashion shots, selfies and, without a doubt, pictures of food. Instagram users seem to love taking and looking at pictures of food. If you’re in the restaurant business, this can be a very effective way of getting new customers.

Of course, for your restaurant’s Instagram efforts to have a positive impact, you first need to ensure that the food you provide is of the utmost quality. After all, if your food is bad, the types of posts customers will upload to Instagram will hardly be positive. But as long as you’re doing your work right in the kitchen, there are several ways to use Instagram to help you boost your business.

1) Take Your Own Beautiful Photos

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Everything on Instagram starts with the photos and videos you take yourself. And this is especially important when you’re trying to promote your menu. Keep in mind the best practices for taking pictures of food, such as using natural light, adding garnishes to spice up your photo and using different angles to make the image more intriguing. The better your food looks in your pictures, the more likely customers are to come out and try it.

2) Contests

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This perennial marketing favorite can be just as effective for your own Instagram marketing efforts. Great prizes—such as gift cards or free meals, for example—encourage people to actively engage with your brand. Even better, when your contest rules include using a branded hashtag or tagging your account, contest posts can generate a lot of free publicity that can bring you new followers online and new customers into your restaurant.

3) Create Photo Opportunities

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Not every photo taken at your restaurant has to be focused on the food. Many restaurants have found success by creating unique photo opportunities for their customers. Whether it’s a paper tablecloth that guests can color or a funky statue, these extra quirks can allow your customers to build an additional emotional bond with your restaurant. Plus, this makes them more likely to take photos and share their experience with friends on Instagram.

4) Let Customers Go Behind the Scenes

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Customers these days are more interested than ever before in what goes on behind the scenes, and you can use Instagram as a platform to showcase the talent and personality of your staff and further increase your restaurant’s appeal. Offering a behind-the-scenes look can increase engagement among your followers and humanize your brand. And of course, showing off how clean you keep your kitchen is never a bad thing.

5) Incentivize Your Customers’ Instagram Posts

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At the end of the day, any time customers post about your restaurant, they are essentially providing you with free advertising to their followers. And regardless of whether those customers have 100,000 followers or only 100, these user-generated posts can be highly influential. So why not reward them?

When you create an incentive for customers to tag your restaurant on Instagram, you make it much more likely that they’ll actually do it. Whether it’s a discount on the bill or a free scoop of ice cream, these small incentives can dramatically increase the number of people who tag your restaurant on Instagram, further spreading the word about your business. For some people, even having their photo shared by your account is enough motivation to post.

6) Advertise Special Offers

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Instagram can also be an effective method to advertise special offers or events. Chef Scott Schroder says, “It’s amazing … I put a daily special up on Instagram and people come in for it that night.” As you build an active following, be sure to post about any special deals or events that you’re hosting. This messaging is guaranteed to bring more customers through the door.


If you’re in the restaurant business, Instagram is clearly the way to go for effective social media marketing. Whether you’re taking your own beautiful photos to advertise special deals or finding ways to get your customers more directly engaged, effectively using Instagram is guaranteed to bring you new business.

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