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10 Proven Instagram Marketing Strategies for Restaurants That Actually Work

In a world where the visual appeal of your food can make or break your restaurant, Instagram isn’t just an option; it’s a necessity. It’s a place where you can showcase your dishes, connect with your customers, and keep them engaged. Here are ten proven Instagram strategies tailored to restaurants, complete with real-life examples to get your creative juices flowing:

1. Create an Irresistible Profile

Your Instagram profile is your restaurant’s digital storefront. Make it irresistible:

Profile Picture: Invest in a professional photoshoot to capture your restaurant’s unique atmosphere. Showcase the interior/ exterior, or even a signature dish set against a picturesque background.

Bio: In 150 characters or less, concisely describe your restaurant, including your location and a unique selling point. Use every character wisely in your bio. Mention your restaurant’s history, values, and any awards or recognition. Include relevant keywords, like “farm-to-table,” “family-friendly,” or “authentic Italian.”

Website Link: Direct followers to your website or, better yet, the online ordering page if you offer it. Alternatively, consider using a tool like Linktree to provide multiple links. If you offer online reservations, create a separate page on your website that highlights the dining experience. Include high-quality images of the restaurant’s ambiance, menu items, and testimonials.

2. Share High-Quality Food Photos

Invest in high-quality food photography that captures the essence of your dishes. A well-composed photo can tell a story and evoke emotions.

  • Hire a professional food photographer who understands how to make dishes look their absolute best. Experiment with different plating styles and table settings.

  • Incorporate seasonal elements into your food photography. For example, in winter, feature cozy, comfort food, while in summer, focus on fresh salads and vibrant cocktails.

  • Share “before and after” photos. Show how a dish is expertly prepared and beautifully presented.

3. Show Behind-the-Scenes Moments

Humanize your brand by offering a glimpse behind the kitchen doors. Share stories/reels about your chef’s creative process, introduce your friendly staff, or tell the story of your restaurant’s inception.

  • Create a series of videos that introduce your team. Share their personal stories, favorite menu items, and what they love most about working at your restaurant.

  • Feature the suppliers and local producers you work with. Showcase the journey of ingredients from farm to plate, emphasizing your commitment to quality.

  • Share the hustle and bustle happening in your kitchen for an upcoming event or peak hour rush.

4. Encouraging Customers To Post About Your Restaurant

Invite your customers to become part of your story. Encourage them to share their dining experiences using a unique hashtag, like #EatsAtYourRestaurant. Repost their content on your profile to build a sense of community.

Develop a loyalty program where customers earn rewards for sharing their experiences on Instagram. The more they post using your hashtag, the better the rewards.

Set Up a Photo Booth: If you have the space, set up a dedicated photo booth with props and backdrops that customers can use to take fun and memorable photos. Encourage them to share these photos on social media.

Create Instagrammable Spaces: Design your restaurant with aesthetics in mind. Unique decor, artful plating, and visually appealing dishes can encourage customers to take photos and share them on platforms like Instagram.

5. Promote Special Offers and Events

Use Instagram to create buzz around special offers and events. Craft visually appealing posts and captions that entice your followers. Limited-time offers, like happy hour discounts, work wonders.

  • Run themed campaigns around holidays, seasons, or local events. Use Instagram to build anticipation by sharing teaser posts and stories leading up to the event.

  • Collaborate with complementary local businesses to create joint promotions. For example, partner with a nearby winery for a wine and dine evening.

  • Utilize Instagram’s “Shopping” feature if you sell merchandise like branded apparel or cooking accessories. Showcase these products and encourage followers to make purchases directly through the app.

6. Utilize Instagram Stories

  • Create a weekly series called “Secrets of the Chef,” where your head chef shares insider tips, cooking techniques, or recipes.

  • Hold surprise flash sales exclusively on Instagram Stories. Offer a limited-time discount code for online orders or reservations.

  • Use the “Swipe Up” feature (available with a certain number of followers) to directly link followers to your website, menu, or online ordering page.

7. Collaborate with Local Influencers

Partnering with local food influencers can broaden your reach. Invite them for a tasting experience and ask for authentic reviews. Choose influencers whose values align with your brand.

  • Research local food influencers carefully. Look for those who genuinely align with your brand and have an engaged following.

  • Offer influencers the opportunity to host Instagram Takeovers. They can spend a day at your restaurant, sharing their experience and interacting with your audience.

  • Organize a “Foodie’s Night Out” event where local influencers and bloggers are invited to sample your menu and create content. Encourage them to share their reviews and stories.

8. Highlight Customer Testimonials

Positive reviews build trust. Share customer testimonials with captivating graphics. Consider creating a dedicated “Reviews” highlight on your profile.

Customer Testimonials: Design visually appealing graphics featuring glowing customer reviews. Collect in-depth customer stories. Share not only their testimonials but also personal anecdotes about their memorable visits.

Share the feedback form with them and encourage your customers to rate and leave feedback about their experience at your restaurant.

Set up a review station near the exit with a tablet or smartphone where customers can leave feedback on the spot. Ensure it’s user-friendly and has direct links to review platforms.

Consider offering small incentives like a discount on their next visit, a free dessert, or entry into a monthly raffle for customers who leave feedback. Make sure it complies with the review platform’s policies.

Don’t limit customers to one platform. Ask them to leave feedback on the platform they’re most comfortable with. You can mention that you’re on Google, Yelp, Facebook, or other review sites.

9. Story Highlights: Showcase Your Restaurant’s Story

Instagram Highlights allow you to curate and feature your best Stories in a permanent collection on your profile. This is an excellent way to tell the ongoing story of your restaurant and share valuable information with your followers.

Menu Highlights: Create a Story Highlight for your menu items. Share photos, descriptions, and even videos of your most popular dishes, giving potential diners a visual taste of what’s available.

Behind-the-scenes: Dedicate a Highlight to behind-the-scenes moments. Share snippets of your chefs in action, the process of crafting signature cocktails, or the teamwork that makes your restaurant special.

Use a “Meet the Team” Highlight to introduce a different staff member each week. Share their background, role at the restaurant and favorite dishes.

10. Interactive Polls and Q&A Sessions: Engage Your Audience

Instagram’s interactive features can foster engagement and build a stronger connection with your audience. Leverage these tools to create fun and informative interactions.

Interactive Polls: Use Instagram Stories’ poll feature to let your audience vote on various topics. Ask questions like, “What dish would you like to see as our next special?” or “Which cocktail should we feature next month?”

Host a weekly “Trivia Tuesday” where you share interesting food facts or quirky behind-the-scenes trivia about your restaurant. Encourage followers to participate and answer questions.

Live Q&A Sessions: Host live question-and-answer sessions. This is an excellent opportunity to engage with your audience in real time, answer their queries, and share insights about your restaurant.

Consistency is the secret sauce to Instagram success. Maintain a regular posting schedule, engage with your audience, and keep them coming back for more. With these proven Instagram strategies and real-life examples, your restaurant can flourish on this visual platform, attracting new diners and retaining loyal customers. Start implementing these strategies today, and watch your restaurant thrive on Instagram!

Disclaimer: These strategies are based on industry best practices and successful restaurant Instagram accounts. Results may vary depending on your restaurant’s unique circumstances and audience.

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