You’ve probably heard of Instagram, the smartphone app bought by Facebook this year for a mind-numbing $1 billion. If you haven’t, the concept is simple: users take a photo, apply a filter and share it on social media. Instagram makes it incredibly easy to simultaneously post to other sites like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare, Tumblr, and Flickr.
Have you thought about using Instagram to build community for your restaurant? Everybody loves food porn, and sharing hashtagged gorgeous photos of your platters is sure to get clicks from strangers. Here are some ways you can make the most of Instagram:
Post more than food: People want to see pictures of your restaurant as a whole, not just isolated shots of food. Capture the atmosphere of your restaurant through photos of furniture and decor. Include pictures of local events you’re catering. Host a weekly spotlight of your loyal regulars. Post the occasional non-restaurant-related photo, like a photo supporting a favorite local team or commenting on a wacky weather event.
Reveal “behind the scenes” action: Your food didn’t make itself - post pictures of your chefs in action! Better yet, put together a brief tutorial: post a sequence of shots demonstrating how to make a favorite dish. Hashtag them “#chefdemonstration” in addition to the name of your restaurant and the food being created, so people cooking at home will stumble upon your pictures.
Interact: People love to feel heard! Engage customers online by visiting their photos and leaving comments. Encourage them to tag and share photos at your restaurant - and consider offering prizes for especially awesome photos. Use your followers’ Instagram photos on Facebook as “Photos of the Week.”
Publicize events:If you’re hosting an event and publicizing it on Facebook and Twitter - post the flyer on Instagram and hashtag it with your city’s name. That way, people searching for your city on Instagram may come across your event.
There’s a whole community of food adventurers and friends waiting to be discovered, so just start posting photos - you’ll see what people like based on what pictures get the most ‘hearts’!