Although TikTok has gained popularity, Instagram remains the most crucial social platform for restaurants. In 2022, running a restaurant without an Instagram account is like embarking on a road trip without an excellent playlist. You miss out on the opportunity to make the experience better.

Instagram is the best social media asset for restaurants, offering endless possibilities for content creation. From 24-hour Instagram stories promoting tonight's specials to lengthy Instagram Reels that live on a restaurant's profile forever, Instagram's visual nature complements restaurant marketing perfectly. Diners love to see pictures of food, videos of staff, and Stories promoting limited-time offerings.

If you're just getting started with Instagram marketing, don't worry. It's never too late to join the bandwagon. Embrace Instagram for restaurant marketing and reap the benefits. Check out our practical tips and examples for being successful.

Instagram Marketing Tips for Restaurants: How to Build Your Presence

Every month, Instagram garners the attention of 1.4 billion individuals, with 40% of them hailing from the United States. This positions Instagram as the fourth most popular social network, following Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube.

Contrary to the widespread belief that Instagram primarily caters to adolescents and young adults, close to 50% of its user base falls within the 25 to 44 age bracket. This demographic encompasses young professionals, parents with expendable income, and potential patrons for your restaurant.

Restaurants are in a prime position to provide Instagram users with appetizing content, as there's no shortage of delectable dishes emerging from their kitchens. In addition to highlighting staff, sharing news, and promoting specials, restaurants can tap into the demand for food photography to build their Instagram audience.

By following best practices, restaurants can amass a significant following on the platform. Death & Co, Misi, and PLANTA, for example, all have over 100,000 Instagram followers. Optimizing your profile and staying active on Instagram can help attract new customers who may not be familiar with your restaurant.

Instagram's capacity to connect with an extensive and varied group of people renders it an essential tool for promoting eateries.

Discover methods for enhancing your presence on Instagram by exploring these valuable suggestions.


Effective Strategies for Refining Instagram Profiles for Restaurants

To optimize your Instagram profile for your restaurant, there are a few key elements to keep in mind. Firstly, make sure to upload a photo and fill out the required fields. Your name should be your restaurant's name and your username should be as close to your restaurant's name as possible. If the name is already taken, consider using a variation such as your city or cuisine type. For example, if @SarahsPastries is taken, try @SarahsNYC or @Sarahs_Pastries.

Next, ensure that your website link leads to your restaurant's website or online ordering page. You can also set up a Linktree account to provide multiple links for your followers. In your bio, include a brief description of your restaurant, location(s), and cuisine type.

Switch your account to a business profile and select the most specific category option such as "Barbecue Restaurant" or "Ice Cream Shop" if applicable.

Here's an excellent example of an optimized Instagram profile from Souvla, a Greek restaurant. They use fun emojis in their bio, have a branded Linktree, and saved Stories at the top of their profile in categories like press, shop, menus, and location. By optimizing your profile, you can increase your restaurant's visibility and attract more followers.

Types of Instagram Content for Restaurant Marketing

Restaurants can leverage the following four types of Instagram content to engage their audience and promote their brand:

  • Instagram Post: A classic image or video that appears on the main feed of restaurant followers, showcasing their menu items or promotions.
  • Instagram Stories: Short-lived videos or images that last up to ten seconds, adding a sense of immediacy and urgency to promotions or announcements.
  • Instagram Reels: Longer-form videos edited with audio and multiple clips, comparable to TikTok videos, can be used to showcase behind-the-scenes moments or a chef's cooking process.
  • Instagram Live: Live streaming up to four hours, providing an excellent opportunity to share real-time, day-in-the-life content of restaurant staff and events.

By using a mix of these Instagram content types, restaurants can keep their followers engaged and excited about their brand.

Effective Restaurant Instagram Marketing Tips & Illustrations

Utilizing Instagram for restaurant promotion can appear daunting to some. Nonetheless, to kick off your online marketing journey, here are eight effortless techniques to craft and distribute content on your restaurant's Instagram page.

1. Reuse Customer-Created Content

For instance: Kane’s Donuts

Do not have the time to capture the ideal shot for Instagram? Do not stress - your customers do! About 70% of millennials capture a photo of their meal before consuming it and tag the restaurant where they placed their order.

Upon tagging, the restaurant will receive a notification and can select to repost the user-generated content on their Instagram Stories. Consistently sharing customer-created content maintains the restaurant's Stories fresh on users' timelines, urging them to tag and post (and potentially get reposted) on their next visit. Reposting videos and images takes seconds and assures a constant flow of content, enhancing the restaurant's online presence.

2. Showcase Your Restaurant Staff

For instance: Gramercy Tavern

Chefs and managers - often busy working behind the kitchen doors or in the back office - seldom get the recognition they deserve despite being instrumental in the success of a restaurant. Why not utilize Instagram to honor these hardworking individuals?

Displaying staff highlights can take different forms. In upscale restaurants, formally introducing the chef or the manager responsible for the meal can add a personal touch to the dining experience. As shown in the example above, New York's Gramercy Tavern highlights the Chef de Cuisine's educational background and achievements. Meanwhile, more casual dining places can opt for a less formal staff introduction or a Q&A session that can be posted on Instagram Stories or Live, providing an engaging and interactive platform for customers.

3. Promote Upcoming Events

Use Instagram to market your restaurant's upcoming events. Post about open events like themed nights or game airings, and share Stories to encourage last-minute arrivals. For ticketed events that require registration, include a call-to-action to purchase tickets right from your Instagram profile. Hill Country BBQ's event post is a perfect example of how to do this right. Don't forget to include mouth-watering food images and custom graphics made on a design tool like Canva.

4. Embrace Holiday Marketing

Take advantage of holidays to showcase your restaurant's offerings. Use creative images and videos to promote holiday menu specials, private party availability, catering options, merch sales, and gift card deals. Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit is a great example of a restaurant that uses festive backdrops to draw in their followers.

5. Sell Swag and Merch

Let your followers know that your restaurant has merchandise available for purchase. From t-shirts and hats to seasonings and bottled sauces, use Instagram to showcase these items' availability. Include a direct link to your online store where followers can order merchandise for delivery or pickup.

6. Encourage Engagement and Comments

Encourage engagement on your Instagram posts by creating natural prompts for comments and likes. Don't overdo it with generic "comment below" or "like this post" prompts. Instead, follow the example of Pammy’s and ask your followers to tag a friend they'd like to share a meal with. High engagement through likes and comments can increase the visibility of your posts on Instagram's algorithm.

7. Announce New and Limited-Time Menu Items

Introduce new or limited-time menu items with mouth-watering images and descriptions of what makes them special. Capo's Instagram carousel is a great example of how to showcase your restaurant's new cocktail menu. Use Stories to promote daily specials that expire before the next day's shift.

8. Post Delicious Food Photos

At the end of the day, Instagram users follow restaurants for one thing: delicious food photos. Use close-up shots of your restaurant's best dishes to attract and retain followers. Emmy Squared is a great example of a restaurant that uses food photos to engage their followers. Apply the Pareto Principle and make only one out of five posts outwardly promotional, while the rest focus on audience engagement and entertainment.

9. Collaborate with Local Food Influencers

Partnering with local food influencers can be an effective way to reach a wider audience and attract new customers to your restaurant. Look for influencers in your area who have a large following and whose content aligns with your brand and values.

To collaborate, invite them to dine at your restaurant and offer them a complimentary meal in exchange for an honest review on their social media channels. You can also ask them to create content featuring your food or restaurant and share it with their followers. This can be a great way to showcase your menu and unique atmosphere to a broader audience.

When working with food influencers, it's essential to establish clear expectations and guidelines upfront. Be sure to communicate what you're looking for and what you're willing to offer in exchange for their promotion. Additionally, make sure that their content aligns with your brand and message and that they follow all relevant advertising and disclosure guidelines. By collaborating with local food influencers, you can leverage their influence to boost your restaurant's visibility and drive more traffic to your restaurant.

Effective Instagram Marketing Strategies for Restaurants

If you're looking to market your restaurant on Instagram, there are a few best practices that you should follow to maximize your reach and engagement. Here are some tips to get started:

Use Hashtags and Locations

Including relevant hashtags and locations in your Instagram posts and stories can help your content appear in search results when users look for specific locations or topics. While you can use up to 30 hashtags per post, it's important to avoid coming across as spammy. Consider using 3-5 high-value hashtags that are relevant to your restaurant and target audience.

Vary Up Your Content

Instagram users love fresh, creative content. To keep your followers engaged, mix up your posting styles with traditional posts, stories, and other creative content. Use stories for time-sensitive announcements, such as daily specials or promotions, and use traditional posts to showcase your restaurant's atmosphere and menu items.

Use Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights is a powerful tool that can help you track your performance on the platform. With Insights, you can see how your content is performing, identify your top posts and stories, and track your follower growth. This data can help you refine your Instagram strategy and optimize your content for maximum engagement.

By following these best practices, you can increase your restaurant's visibility and engagement on Instagram, and attract more customers to your business.

Make content for Instagram

Incorporating Instagram into your restaurant's marketing strategy can be highly effective. However, there are a few essential steps to follow for optimal results:

  • Optimize your profile by ensuring that it accurately represents your restaurant and includes relevant keywords.
  • Maintain a consistent posting schedule to keep your audience engaged and interested.
  • Utilize hashtags liberally to increase the discoverability of your content.
  • Adhere to the 80/20 rule, where only 20% of your content is promotional.

As your account grows, you can expand your marketing approach by creating diverse visual content, partnering with influencers, hosting competitions, and experimenting with Reels. 

Establishing a strong presence on Instagram can drive new customers and sales for your restaurant. These tips are just the beginning of using Instagram as an effective restaurant marketing tool.