If you’re not on Instagram, you don’t exist. That’s the hard truth. The social media landscape has quickly become the dominant marketing tool for restaurants to connect globally and directly with existing and potential customers. No biggie, there are just around 1 billion of them.
The “gram” user, combined with Instagram algorithms, continues to challenge restaurants to push creative limits, in order to achieve Follows, LIKES and Comments.
Custom caterer Ben Kramer, who has helped to transform Winnipeg into a vibrant food scene, leverages Instagram as a marketing tactic to show the breadth of his talent and engage his audience. With 5,259 followers and 1,347 posts to date, he’s using Instagram to create buzz for his business.
What are some other social media tactics your restaurant can employ to develop impactful social campaigns?
Start with a Monthly Plan
Take the time to plan out your key messages and posts for the upcoming month by developing a social media content calendar. Your goal should be to support and highlight exciting initiatives within your restaurant operation that set your brand apart, while reinforcing key brand messages.
THE SOCIAL MEDIA LANDSCAPE HAS QUICKLY BECOME THE DOMINANT MARKETING TOOL FOR RESTAURANTS TO CONNECT GLOBALLY AND DIRECTLY WITH EXISTING AND POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS.
KEEP IN MIND: Post what you want guests to be sharing about your brand experience.
Put your Best Post Forward
Your daily posts should be a balanced mix of your brand experience including team, interior/exterior spaces, design elements, food and drink menus, including the following:
- Seasonal menu updates
- New or exclusive brand offerings such as a new wine or beer on tap
- Weekly sales-driving promotions such as “hoppy hour” or “buck a shuck”
- Weekend events like live music evenings, chef-inspired menus, or brunch offerings
- Foodie calendar notable days – each month you can find a list of key FOODIE dates online. Select the national foodie dates that are relevant to your menu offering. Example: #nationaldonutday.
- Community events and interests such as sports games to drive business, or charitable partnerships that reinforce brand values.
Because of low social media engagement, we recommend only 5 per cent of your monthly posts be sales driving promotions, like daily specials.
An effective and easy to follow rule of thumb for identifying the appropriate number of weekly or monthly posts is to follow your hours of operation schedule. For example, if you are a Monday to Friday restaurant business, then focus your posts to launch on those days and avoid weekend posting. Following this rule of thumb also eliminates any guest confusion, which can be caused by posting content on days that your business is not operating.
Times to Post
Social media reporting suggests that the social guest is most engaged in the early mornings, lunch and dinner hours, and later in the evening. These moments tend to be when we are taking a “break,” which results in spikes in social media activity. Instagram for businesses also provides effective reporting on your social guests’ most engaged days and times per day. Utilize these data to identify the optimal days and times of when to post.
Follow these five top tips to develop a list of hashtags relevant to your brand content:
- Research what competitors and the foodie community are using as popular hashtags.
- Identify 30-50 hashtags that align with your menu offerings and location, and are popular, and reference them selectively within your content calendar.
- Post hashtags that match the photography or video content you are sharing.
- Post the hashtags as a “comment” to your post, versus within the post.
- Post between 15 and 30 hashtags from your list per post.
Hashtags can make or break the effectiveness of your content strategy by how relevant they are to the content you are posting. Digital users can follow hashtags to collect content on their feed that is of interest to them. The goal is to use hashtags that will place your content on the feeds of your target guests. Popular hashtags are identified in the “TAGS” search bar on Instagram by the number of times they have been used in a post.
As you monitor the effectiveness of your social campaign, be aware of spikes in your engagement when certain hashtags are used in your posted content, to identify your top-performing hashtags.
Developers are launching innovative and useful social media content editing, organizing and publishing apps on a monthly basis to support small businesses in managing digital campaigns. We recommend downloading a few different apps to test them out and understand which will be most effective in supporting your social media goals.
Using Instagram and Facebook to build a community of engaged brand advocates can seem intimidating, until you realize what makes them work. Implement these tactics to see what a powerful tool social media campaigns can be for your restaurant business.
Written by Kate Engineer, Hospitality Communications Consultant
This article was published in Chef Connexion Magazine: Instagram 201 for Restaurants
Download the Magazine issue HERE