Restaurant Marketing: 5 Key Instagram and Facebook Optimizations to Attract More Customers
While it was once considered impolite to have your phone at the dinner table, nowadays, if you don’t share your experience on Instagram and Facebook, did you even dine out? Believe it or not, 69% of millennials take a photo or video of their food before eating. The act of sharing your dining experience with your friends and followers is as much a part of eating out as the food itself.
From how your establishment plates its food to its interior design, whether or not your establishment is “sharable” needs to be a part of your restaurant marketing strategy.
Let’s tackle this in two parts.
First, we’ll cover how you can make it easier for local customers to find your restaurant’s key information and book a reservation online.
Second, we’ll dive into how to market your restaurant on social media. From your food photography to leveraging hashtags, geotags, customer reviews, and user-generated content, we’ve got you covered.
Here are five optimizations you can make to your Instagram and Facebook accounts to turn your restaurant into an internet sensation.
Assure that key information is easy to find
Let’s start with the basics. If you want to encourage the people who discover you on Facebook and Instagram to book a reservation, you need to make that process as easy as possible for them.
Start by adding the information customers need—your menu, address, price range, website, and opening hours—to the About section of your Facebook Business Page.
Be selective with the photos you upload
People eat with their eyes. By that, we mean that food presentation matters, a lot. When it comes to food photography, there are a lot of variables that go into taking a great shot. But the good news is that they’re all in your control.
Shoot in natural light
Lighting is the key to taking beautiful photos. Whenever possible, try to shoot photos for your social media channels in natural daylight rather than using artificial lighting.
While natural light is neutral in color and assures that your photo looks bright and vibrant, artificial light tends to give your photos a tint of yellow or orange, which detracts from how desirable the image looks.
Image source: Bistro Tendresse
Play around with colors
Colors have a huge impact on a picture’s look and feel. There are several tried and true routes you can take when it comes to your photo’s featured colors.
Your first option is to use colors that play well with one another. In the example below, Bar Renard uses browns, yellows, greens and, of course, millennial pink. The star of the shot is clearly visible while blending nicely with the rest of the competing colors.
Another option is to use contrasting colors to give the photo a more dynamic, energetic feel. In the example below, Bistro Tendresse makes their cocktail pop by applying two colors that contrast well with one another.
Image source: Bistro Tendresse
Arrange your food neatly
Even if you’re using props and decorations in your shot (we’ll cover that a little later), you want your photo to look organized.
Whether you take a minimalist approach like the example from Restaurant Pastel below or a controlled layout with multiple visual elements like the example from Trois fois par jour, your goal is to make each photo look clean.
Get your food presentation in order and assure that dishes aren’t messy (unless that’s your restaurant’s thing) and that there are no spills or stains. Remember, this isn’t just a photo, it’s a representation of your establishment. Its sole function is to entice people to visit.
Image source: Restaurant Pastel
While the food and beverages that you’re featuring are certainly the photo’s stars, you can make a shot more interesting by decorating the scene with smaller, relevant items.
Consider how the decorations will complement your photo. Do you want them to blend in with the food or add contrast?
You can use almost anything as a prop. We suggest using cutlery, utensils, tablecloths, herbs, and spices, or the ingredients you used to prepare the dish. Additionally, you can use decorations that complement the dish’s seasonality. If it’s summer, perhaps some flowers are in order. Autumn? Maybe try some potpourri or dried leaves.
Image source: Trois fois par jour
Image source: Trois fois par jour
Add a human element
Something as simple as including a human element to your food photos can add the illusion of movement to an otherwise static shot.
Image source: Bistro Tendresse
Edit each photo before you publish
Under all circumstances, you want to run your food photos through editing software before you publish them on social media.
Food comes in many colors, and editing software like VSCO or Adobe Lightroom are great, accessible tools to make them fit the aesthetic you’re looking to accomplish. Whether that’s making colors more vibrant, faded, muted, or sharper, either of these tools will do the trick.
VSCO comes with a ton of preset photo filters that make adjusting your images easy, but if you want more control, you can move your photos into Adobe Lightroom, create your own unique image filter and apply it to all your photos. While it’s a little more time-intensive, this gives each photo you share a unique look that’s undeniably “you”.
If you don’t want to use filters, either of these tools let you adjust photos settings like color saturation, temperature, tint, and fade individually.
Use branded and non-branded tags to get found
There are over 200 million posts shared on Facebook tagged with #food and at the time of this article, there are 338,558,910 posts on Instagram with the same tag. Hashtags like #food are what’s known as non-branded hashtags since they’re general and aren’t unique to your establishment.
Branded hashtags are ones that your restaurant adopts and uses as a moniker. It’s used specifically by your establishment, or by people in relation to your establishment. An example of this is Sweet Green’s branded hashtag #sweetlife.
Don’t forget to geotag your posts
Instagram has a feature that simplifies how you target local audiences called geotagging.
You can create a location for your restaurant’s address, which allows anyone who visits your establishment to geotag the pictures they take. For each photo, you post on your restaurant’s Facebook or Instagram, geotag your restaurant’s location to build content around it.
The result is that if anyone searches for your establishment on either Facebook or Instagram, they’ll find a nice mix of user-generated content, as well as the great photos you’ve posted.
Make use of Location and Hashtag Stickers
Once you create a location, anyone who visits your establishment can feature your business location prominently in their Facebook and Instagram Stories using Location and Hashtag Stickers. They create cool stories and share them with their followers, and your establishment gets organic visibility.
Feature your customer reviews
Yelp isn’t the only platform where customers can rate their dining experience at your establishment.
Facebook Business Pages also include a rating feature, and they’re an incredibly powerful form of social proof that can either encourage people to try your establishment or avoid it at all costs. In fact, according to Statistica, 88% of people trust what people say about a business on Facebook.
People are inclined to copy other people’s actions, so if you can demonstrate that a majority of people who visit your establishment enjoy their experience, you can use that to promote your positive reviews and maximize their value.
Image source: Bar Renard
Of course, the only way to generate positive reviews is by delivering consistently amazing guest experiences. Focus on great customer service and the positive reviews will start pouring in.
Leverage user-generated content
As your establishment starts attracting more people, you’ll want to use your social accounts to turn your guests into superstars.
Assuming you created a location for your business on Facebook, you can bet that the people visiting your establishment will start posting content using those geotags and hashtags, which makes it super easy for you to find great user-generated content and give them a shout out on your account. Accessing all the content your guests post using your geotag or hashtag is as easy as searching for your location like this:
When sharing user-generated content, it’s important that you give photo credit to the customer. They’ll appreciate the gesture and it will further solidify their positive feelings towards your establishment.
Rounding up how to attract locals using Instagram and Facebook
As with everything in the restaurant industry, don’t lose sight of the fact that, at the end of the day, everything is contingent on the quality of your food and your customer experience.
If your food and customer experience are awesome, you can leverage Facebook and Instagram to attract both local customers and tourists looking for trendy places to eat in your area. For both social media platforms, assure that you:
- Highlight the information that’s important to customers
- Enable online reservations
- Share awesome photos of your food and beverages
- Use hashtags and geotags
- Feature customer reviews
- Leverage user-generated content
Do that, and you’re well on your way to turning your establishment into a local hotspot. Good luck!