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Paying attention to the Instagram-worthiness of food and restaurant design can help draw traffic.

How to Make Your Restaurant an Instagram Sensation

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Harness the power of this social media channel with these tips.
By Tiffany Regaudie September 2017 Expert Insights

All it takes is a touch of sunshine, some funky decor, and a beautifully presented dish, and you’ve got yourself an image that will make mouths water and imaginations swoon. But do you have the audience?
 
In the history of dining, word of mouth has always been the best way to fill seats. In today’s digital age, word of mouth has expanded to include conversations on social media. One of the best ways for restaurateurs to become known among hungry diners is to tap into the power of Instagram and its influencers.

Here are some tips to make your restaurant an Instagram sensation.

1. Find Your Best Feature

Do you have a fancy tiled floor? An outstanding sign above your door? Wall art that your customers are constantly complimenting?

Instagram is about standing out from the crowd. Your food should look fabulous, but so should your decor. If you’ve spent hours obsessing over the color of your tablecloths or the pattern on your counters, feature them as a consistent backdrop on your Instagram feed. Your customers will follow suit and post their own photos if there’s something in your restaurant that looks great with your food.

2. Make Food That’s Fun to Photograph

With Instagram on the map as food culture’s primary social media platform, presentation has never been so important. Your delicious works of art could receive lots of Instagram love if they look like something that belongs framed on a wall. People think of their Instagram feeds almost like their personal art collections, and foodies are especially adamant about keeping their feeds fresh and beautiful.

 

 

Make people want to photograph their food. Make sure your food is art. When you serve food that’s worth a thousand words, you may just get thousands of followers on Instagram, which means more customers through your doors. 

3. Get the Lighting Right

Artificial lights, camera, action! Treat your food like a supermodel, and you’ll be rewarded with Insta-love. The look of your Instagram feed should tie back to your brand, and you can’t create a great look without great lighting.

“The first reason why I wouldn’t post would be because of bad lighting,” says food influencer Anna, known to the food scene as @food.diva. “Sometimes the photos just don’t turn out. Most foodies use their cellphone so unless you’re a serious photographer, you don’t come equipped with lighting. So there has to be reasonable lighting for us. It can’t be pitch black with candles or else the food looks terrible, which is such a shame because the experience might have been extremely positive.”

Unlike other social networks like Snapchat, Instagram is a place where people expect to see beautiful, curated photos, especially on foodie accounts. Don’t skimp on the production value, but don’t think lighting has to be difficult, either—a bright space will do, as long as you’re showing off your best self.

4. Don’t Forget Your Details

Share your Instagram @accountname everywhere—on your menu, on a chalkboard behind the bar, or even at the bottom of your patrons receipt. Create a custom hashtag that either speaks to the name of your restaurant or a fun aspect of your brand. By doing so, you’ll be doing your part to encourage your Insta-obsessed customers to get snapping.

5. Cozy Up to Some Influencers

Influencer endorsement is the best kind of promotion an up-and-coming restaurant could have, which is why more and more restaurants are approaching social media influencers to get people in the door. 

When you know who you’d like to court as a potential influencer, invite them to a tasting at your restaurant. Keep it intimate and invite only a few possible influencers at a time to make it exclusive. But provide the influencer with a plus one—no one likes to dine alone, and foodies run together. You may just get more bang for your buck.

“Some restaurants set up a table just for the foodies that no one else will touch,” Anna says. “It remains out the whole night, with an array of props, like extra forks and knifes, so we can take photos. This way, we’re free to eat our meals right away, warm, and really enjoy it fresh off the plate, without having to worry about taking photos of it. It makes the experience stress free for us.”

When you’re mindful of presentation, ambiance, and working with the right people, Instagram can be an exciting and rewarding platform for restaurant promotion. Don’t be afraid to experiment and you may just find yourself Insta-famous faster than you think is possible.

4. Don’t Forget Your Details

Share your Instagram @accountname everywhere—on your menu, on a chalkboard behind the bar, or even at the bottom of your patrons receipt. Create a custom hashtag that either speaks to the name of your restaurant or a fun aspect of your brand. By doing so, you’ll be doing your part to encourage your Insta-obsessed customers to get snapping.

5. Cozy Up to Some Influencers

Influencer endorsement is the best kind of promotion an up-and-coming restaurant could have, which is why more and more restaurants are approaching social media influencers to get people in the door. 

When you know who you’d like to court as a potential influencer, invite them to a tasting at your restaurant. Keep it intimate and invite only a few possible influencers at a time to make it exclusive. But provide the influencer with a plus one—no one likes to dine alone, and foodies run together. You may just get more bang for your buck.

“Some restaurants set up a table just for the foodies that no one else will touch,” Anna says. “It remains out the whole night, with an array of props, like extra forks and knifes, so we can take photos. This way, we’re free to eat our meals right away, warm, and really enjoy it fresh off the plate, without having to worry about taking photos of it. It makes the experience stress free for us.”

When you’re mindful of presentation, ambiance, and working with the right people, Instagram can be an exciting and rewarding platform for restaurant promotion. Don’t be afraid to experiment and you may just find yourself Insta-famous faster than you think is possible.

Tiffany Regaudie is an editor and content marketing specialist at TouchBistro where she writes about restaurant and dining trends, restaurant management, and food culture. She is passionate about traveling the world and getting to know communities through great food.