Social Media Marketing for restaurants has grown leaps and bounds and has become a significant means of reaching out to and engaging with customers. Many restaurateurs use social media like Facebook and Twitter to connect with their customers and build their brand value. Lately, restaurant Instagram marketing has emerged as one of the major marketing channels for promoting a restaurant and engaging with customers.
As of June 2018, Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users. Due to the app’s visual nature and high user engagement rate, Instagram is a valuable social media marketing tool.
Instagram is not only a platform for personal use but Instagram for restaurants is gaining popularity. The benefits of Instagram marketing for restaurants cannot be denied. Not only does it allow you to reach out to new and potential customers it also enables you to engage with your existing ones.
Looking at the statistics, it is a smart business move to include Instagram in your social media strategy and run an Instagram campaign to engage with your customers. Remember, customer engagement will help boost not only your brand awareness but also the number of seats filled in your restaurant. Now, who wouldn’t want that? Here are some Instagram best practices for restaurants, that you can employ!
How to Run a Successful Restaurant Instagram Marketing Campaign
Here are the effective ways of using Instagram for restaurants that are sure to increase your customer engagement.
1. Determine Your Goals
To engage with your customers, you should think about the audience you are trying to reach. What kind of posts do they like seeing on their account? What kind of posts do they post on their account? How they behave on the platform? This will help you narrow your focus.
Also, determine a time frame – usually local restaurants run more extended contests, such as two weeks or a month, while more known brands run it for a week (and some even for a day or a few hours, given their sizeable social following!), and budget for your contest, as it will help you run a compelling contest.
2. Establish the Rules
Restaurant Instagram Marketing is not very strict when it comes to promotion rules. However, there are a few rules that businesses must abide by, for instance – putting a disclaimer that your restaurant’s promotion is not sponsored, endorsed or associated with Instagram, and not falsely tagging or encouraging users to tag content falsely.
Apart from this, you need to choose the entry method for your users. You can ask the users to enter into the contest by liking your photos, commenting on them, tagging their friends on your Instagram account, posting a picture on their account using a specific hashtag created by you, or reposting your eatery’s Instagram image. This is one of the best Instagram best practices for restaurants.
Make sure your users know all the rules regarding
- Type of contest
- What to do to enter
- Contest runtime
- Specifics of the prize (number of awards and description)
- How will the winner be chosen, informed and delivered the prize
- age restrictions, if any
You can display these in the caption copy of your Instagram post (if the rules are fewer and more straightforward), or create a rules page on your website or create a landing page for your Instagram contest (if you are running a rule-intensive contest). You can use tools like HubSpot or ShortStack to host your contest’s rules and entries.
3. Choose a Trendy Hashtag
No Restaurant Instagram Marketing campaign can be complete without a relevant or catchy hashtag. It will not only promote your brand but will also make it easy for you to get involved with your contestants. Use a contest-specific hashtag. For example –Starbucks launched a contest where they asked their users to customize their white cups and tag their submissions on Instagram using #WhiteCupContest. The campaign received more than 4000 submissions in three weeks. Using appropriate hashtags is a great Instagram best practice for restaurants.
Things to remember while creating a hashtag –
- Your hashtag should relate well to your business or brand name, product or services.
- Create a short hashtag that stays in people’s minds.
- Make your hashtag catchy, and easy to remember, search and use.
- Avoid weird spellings and confusing terms.
- Make a quick search to see if your hashtag is already being used for some other purpose, in which case you need to find another one. The uniqueness of a hashtag is essential to determine who your participants are.
4. Define a Theme
It’s necessary to define a theme for your Restaurant Instagram Marketing campaign so that the users know what kind of pictures and videos to post, and whether they should use your product in the image they take. The popular US-based ice cream company, Ben & Jerry’s launched #CaptureEuphoria campaign, which encouraged fans to take pictures of whatever euphoria meant to them, and post photos using the hashtag. While using Instagram for restaurants ensure you have a theme and maintain the aesthetics of the page.
5. Choose an Appropriate Award
Choose a prize that’s both valuable and relevant to your brand and within your budget. You can always give away an iPad or an iPhone or a free trip; it will create the right buzz too, however, think of a prize that will prompt your users actually to use your service. Ideal awards would be a gift card for lunch or drinks for two, free appetizers or desserts, free VIP seating, etc.
6. Decide on How to Select the Winner
It is essential to decide how you will select the winner, and let your contestants know the terms too. Consider these parameters:
Do you want to choose one or more winners? There is no written rule on the number of winners you can select. Depending on your budget and time frame, you can choose daily, weekly or monthly winners. It will help keep your social media audience engaged regularly. However, the prizes need to be interesting.
Who will choose the winner? Again, there are various ways in which you can select a winner. You can choose the winner yourself, draw names, select a group of experts to decide upon a winner or let the users decide through the voting system, i.e., the photo that gets the maximum likes or tags is a winner.
Nobody will enter the contest unless they know about it; so get the word out. Promote your contest a few days earlier by using appropriate hashtags like #Instagramcontest, #contest #prizes #(your brand name) or #(the name of your prize). Promote it and repost your Instagram photos on your other social networks like your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Encourage your employees, partners and brand ambassadors to use your campaign hashtag on their social networks as well. Encourage your customers to participate in the Instagram contest by sending them an invitation in the email.
8. Collaborate with the Food Bloggers and Influencers
Nowadays, food bloggers and influencers are driving the Instagram. It is a good idea to collaborate with these influencers, and that will help you make your restaurant Instagram marketing campaigns successful. These food bloggers already have a large following on Instagram and have a high User Engagement Rate. A post from these influencers can typically reach up to a wide number of people depending on the follower base.
Learn how you can collaborate with the food bloggers and influencers and run a successful restaurant marketing campaign here.
9. Track the Contest
Track submissions and customer participation to know if you have met your goals and apply the learnings to improve upon future contests. For huge submissions, use Instagram analytics service like Wishpond, Iconosquare or Nitrogram to know the number of entries, likes per entries, the number of participants, top participants, total likes, total reach, and user growth during the contest period. For fewer submissions, you can monitor it manually by using Tagboard or Google Alerts.
10. Announce the Winner
Once the contest is over, it’s time to review the submissions to select the winner. Go back to your rules and regulations so that you can evaluate fairly. Once your winner gets chosen, announce it on your Instagram and other social media accounts with Congratulations to #(your contest name) winner!
There are endless benefits of Instagram for restaurants! It gives you a big platform to launch creative campaigns. Use our tips and run a great restaurant Instagram marketing campaign to engage and expand your restaurant customer base and audience.