Once upon a time, a restaurant could get popular just by virtue of your dishes’ quality; those days are over. Today, the looks of the food in your restaurant are as important as the flavor – at least according to young, image-obsessed customers. Who, these days, are the largest generation around.
In the olden days we would paint still lifes of food; today we post snaps of the most delicious-looking dishes on social media. And the king of photo-based, highly visual social media in undoubtedly Instagram. As I am writing these words, there are over 190 million posts on social media platform Instagram hashtagged #food – and more than 100 million pictures tagged #foodporn.
For restaurants and cafés, Instagram is a great way to promote their dishes and their brand’s personality. Food is one of the most discussed, shared and beloved topics on the uber-popular app; moreover, according to Forrester’s analysis of the top 50 Global brands, Instagram is the social platform with the highest rate of engagement – which makes it a perfect place to advertise your business and get new, loyal customers.
So, how do you get started?
We have listed six useful do’s and don’ts to help you play the Instagram game.
Do serve food worth instagramming
I know, your business is about taste and ambiance — but to increase the likelihood of your dishes getting organically popular on Instagram, try to consider how you could make your food more photogenic.
Encourage your customers to share your dishes on Instagram by dishing up amazing-looking plates. Surprise them! When a dish looks special, young diners will be automatically drawn to snapping its picture – and showing it to the world. If you are doing it right, you could get every single one of your dishes uploaded to Instagram by your restaurant’s guests.
Do make your restaurant Instagram-friendly
According to Urban Dictionary, Instagram-friendly is a word “used to describe a location, typically a restaurant, where there is either good cellular coverage or free Wi-Fi and adequate lighting to properly capture food porn photos and upload them to Instagram.” In order to turn your restaurant into the hotspot of instagrammers, you need to at least combine excellent food with Wi-Fi and good lighting. This is not a suggestion – if you want shares, it is a necessity.
Do join trending conversations
Sometimes you can get more popularity by following a trend than by being unique. Keep track of which foods are trending on Instagram, and think about how you can work the trend. Consider this: at some point avocado toast became all the rage among Danish instagrammers, and restaurants that could cater to their needs, producing appealing (and very high-profit) avocado toasts like Café Atelier September, got all the shares – and the customers.
Don’t get too comfortable
So you have successfully created a dish that customers love to photograph, and now snapshot after snapshot of your dish shows up on Instagram. Congratulations! However, do not expect this dish to carry you indefinitely. Sooner or later, frequent customers will get fed up with the same menu. Shake it up a bit: plan seasonal menus or give your dishes a new look every few months. Do not refrain from creating holiday-themed events to encourage guests to come over, take a peek and share snapshots of your themed menus, décor and outfits.
Don’t forget your drinks!
Drinks are just as important as food when it comes to shareability. If your drinks look nice and innovative, chances are that they will pop up online and help put your restaurant on the Instagram map. Virtually any drink can be spruced up. Make your water look extra nice by adding some mint leaves or lemon, or serve it in an original carafe. Make your coffee drinks stand out with milk foam art, or by decorating them with a fun quote written with cocoa powder. Serve fun and colorful cocktails, and assign to each of them a different theme or personality – to encourage customers to try them all. (union kitchen)
Don’t overdo it
Sometimes, people get overly experimental and take their innovative ideas a bit too far. When it comes to food in particular, there’s a fine line between “original” and “unappetizing”, and more than one restaurant’s dishes have been published online not to celebrate them, but to mock their weirdness. From burgers served on a floor tile (I can just imagine how hard that must be to carry for the servers!) to lasagna squished inside a milkshake glass, there are many ways restaurateurs have taken the desire to think “out of the box” way beyond what’s generally considered tasteful. Make sure that, whatever you do, it doesn’t detract from your plates’ final aim: looking appetizing.
Amazing-looking dishes may be more time-consuming – but think of all the free, consumer-generated marketing you will get! By ensuring your restaurant serves food worth instagramming you can get featured on the feed of hundreds of potential customers.