60% of millennials fall in love with a restaurant brand through Instagram.

Like it or not, the Instagram trend is not going away. It goes beyond the food and drink you serve and allows you to connect directly with your customers and potential future customers. When used properly, Instagram can be your best friend: helping you to build your brand and create a buzz around your establishment, whether that’s a garden centre, restaurant, coffee shop or something else.

These days, it’s not unusual to see millennials whip out their phones to take a picture of their food or drink (much to the disdain of their parents and grandparents!) However, consumers aren’t just using Instagram to document what they’re eating and drinking, they’re also using it to decide where to eat. According to Casual Dining Mag, 60% of millennials fall in love with a restaurant brand through Instagram. Further research from Zizzi shows that 30 per cent of 18 – 35 year olds would avoid a restaurant who had a weak Instagram presence.

 

Here are some things you can do to get started on Instagram:

1. Follow food and drink bloggers

If you can get a food and drink blogger to visit your restaurant and post about you, you will get a fantastic amount of exposure within an engaged foodie audience. The key is to build a relationship with these bloggers. It’s called “social” media for a reason. 

 

MORE: Five Winning Ways Coffee Shops Can Boost Sales and Profitability

 

2. Run competitions

An Instagram contest is a great way to build your following, engage an audience and grow your brand. Make sure the prize you are offering is relevant to your brand otherwise you will attract people who aren’t interested in you and just want a freebie. Here are some great tips from sprout social about running an Instagram competition: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/instagram-contest/

 

3. Use hashtags

Instagram posts with at least one hashtag tend to receive 12.6% more engagement than a post without hashtags but remember that the reason you are using Instagram is to grow your brand not just to get a bunch of meaningless followers and likes. There are two major types of hashtags on Instagram.

Branded hashtags: specific to your company

For example, we use #changebeverages #brewboffins

Community hashtag: more general and widely used

For example, we use #instacoffee or #looseleaftea

You should use a good mix of sensible, trending and branded hashtags and tie them back to your company.

 

MORE: Three Tips for Capitalising on the British Appetite for Speciality Coffee

 

4. Plan ahead

With running a business and dealing with customers, how could you possibly find the time to dedicate to Instagram? The answer is scheduling tools. Hootsuite, Buffer and Later are all examples of tools which let you publish and schedule posts in advance. All you need to do is set some time aside each week to write them.

 

 

5. Talk to people

As we’ve already said, it’s called “social” media for a reason.  Instagram is probably the best social media platform for engagement, beating the likes of Facebook and Twitter. The best way to create an engaged audience is, of course, to engage with them. Let your followers know that you value their thoughts and opinions. Ask them how they are, what their plans are for the weekend, what their favourite food it, etc. If people ask you a question, make sure you get back to them. After all, if somebody spoke to you face-to-face, would you ignore them? The same rules apply on Instagram.

 

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