Secrets to Instagram Marketing for Restaurants

Instagram has over 300 million users, even surpassing their much older cousin Twitter. It began as two friends with a dream and it has grown into a global community that shares more than 70 million photos and videos every single day. Many users tap the like button 2.5 million times daily, proving that the visibility and the interest is at the highest level.

instagram food

Instagram is a fast-growing platform and businesses are eager to establish a presence and encourage engagement on the network. Specifically, local restaurants are gaining huge momentum and buzz online simply thanks to their Instagram profiles. Today we’re going to discuss Instagram marketing for restaurants since it is surely becoming the #1 driver of food traffic to both new and already established restaurants.

Instagram Marketing for Restaurants

Start off by creating your restaurant’s Instagram profile, make sure your logo, address and phone number are featured in your Bio section as well as your website’s URL if you have one and then apply these tips to get the most out of your Restaurant’s Instagram account.

1) Beautiful pictures

Probably the MOST important thing when it comes to building a profitable Instagram marketing strategy for a restaurant. On Instagram visuals are everything, especially when it comes to food/restaurants. We’ve all heard it before “you eat with your eyes first”, that goes to show you how important it is to ONLY post high-quality and unique pictures. Pay even more attention to detail when posting dishes/meals served at your restaurant, consider every little detail and make sure your plates, cutlery and glasses are spotless. Here are a couple examples from some restaurants who are doing Instagram marketing the right way. Keep in mind, I specifically chose smaller restaurants to show you it’s possible, you can do it too, not only big chains/brands are successful on Instagram.

A photo posted by Chris Bianco (@pizzeriabianco) on

2) Contests

Contests allow users to connect directly with the desired brand—specifically its food—in a personal and interesting way. There are many ways in which you can promote, share or advertise your meals, specials, happy hours and so on. Contests for a free dinner for 2 for example might encourage your followers to tag a friend they’d like to take to that free dinner, or to repost your contest’s promotional image explaining why they deserve to win and so on. There are tons of ways to make contests on Instagram enticing all while getting the exposure your brand/offer deserves. Contests can also help turn your followers into your ambassadors since they have to share your posts in order to enter your contests. Please make sure to follow the Instagram guidelines when creating a contest.

Instagram Restaurants Marketing


3) Build a community around hashtag

Creating your own Instagram hashtag and have it become a trend is every restaurant owner’s dream. The great thing about it is that it isn’t so hard to accomplish, you just need to come up with something clever that will entice your followers to start using your hashtag. Some great examples of this are Redbull’s #PutaCanonIt, Coca-Cola’s #ShareaCoke, Oreo’s #OreoHorrorStories. Those are huge brands since they easily came to mind and had extremely successful hashtag campaigns, but you can/should do it too.

Instagram food

4) Relate with your followers

Instagram food

Relate to your followers as much as possible, at this point you should already know who your target audience is (the crowd that you’ll usually find eating at your restaurant) and you should be able to keep them in mind when posting on Instagram. That means if you target a young-adult crowd you can try to keep your posts funny and entertaining using sarcasm and daily trends. Whereas if you’re more of a family restaurant try to incorporate that in your posts. It’s also extremely important to engage with your followers when trying to properly do Instagram marketing for restaurants. That means following people back, replying to their comments, commenting on their pics and so on. Make sure to keep a friendly and personal tone since that’s what Instagram is all about.

5) Don’t over post!

You must never over post! You need to know that this is not Facebook where all pictures will be grouped into a compact album or Twitter where your posts get washed out within seconds. Over-posting quickly makes you go from entertaining and interesting to simply shameless self-promotion which everyone hates. Your followers then quickly lose interest and visit your page for the last time in order to unfollow, usually forever. Post every-day but never more than twice a day, ideally once a day.


6) Get inspiration from other companies

Learn from the best, that’s the easiest and quickest way to optimize your restaurant marketing on Instagram strategy. There are tons of credible and reputable small businesses doing Instagram right, use their techniques but apply your own twist. Why reinvent the wheel? If something works take advantage of it. Of course, as mentioned above, always add your unique spin to it, that is your only chance of becoming a leader and gaining real momentum on Instagram.

7) Use effects and filters on Instagram

You should utilize all the tools Instagram has to offer. Instagram has continued to make changes to the application at a decently fast pace. There is definitely a lot you can do on Instagram to beautify your photos, track performance too and always stay on-top of changes. You need to make your posts more creative and interesting if you want to attract more customers. Get to know all of Instagram’s filters, special effects, and the editing tools. You can use your creative team to help manipulate your photos to get the most visually irresistible result. Some of the most popular rated filters on Instagram are Low-Fi, Valencia, and X-Pro II. If you own a restaurant and you want to present your every day menus, using these effects and filters on Instagram is the perfect way to make your food on the photos look even more delicious and tempting to try.

instagram marketing

8) Find the beauty in your brand

A lot of companies already ruled Instagram out as an unusable platform for their business. Take photographs in the kitchen or of your restaurant’s garden environment to give your followers a sneak-peak into the day-to-day of your company’s unique culture. Get your employees involved so all of the work does not fall on your shoulders, it also helps create a more unique and creative feed than a bland one managed by just one person. For example, have your Chef upload pics of raw food as well as the process it takes to create his masterpiece meals. Behind the scene posts help people connect with your brand on a deeper level, they start feeling like they actually know you and your restaurant.


9) Bonus

The easiest way to start your Instagram marketing campaign for your restaurant is to take advantage of your current walk-in/reservation traffic. Don’t impose on your guests, but offer them a free dessert or drink for example in exchange for a post on Instagram. Many are going to be thrilled to do it and appreciate the offer, some have thousands of followers, definitely worth the exposure in exchange for what it costs you to make that drink or dessert!


What is important to remember?

For personal use, Instagram can be fun and spontaneous. But if you wish to use it as a marketing tool, you need to be a little more calculated and consistent with it. Take it seriously and you’ll benefit from it, don’t and you won’t see any result. Results can take time, getting a real following takes time, but what’s better than free advertising right?

Let us know in the comment what’s worked on Instagram for your restaurant!



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