Instagram Marketing for Restaurants in 2020: (+Tips, Examples, Tools)

Instagram Marketing for Restaurants in 2020: (+Tips, Examples, Tools)
April 28, 2020 Levi Olmstead

The competition among restaurants is tough, so it’s no wonder that restaurant owners and marketers seek out new creative ways to reach out to their target audience, interact with potential visitors, and turn guests into loyal customers. From brochure images to geo-targeted ads and email marketing, there’s a variety restaurant marketing strategies to explore.. 

Today, 90% of visitors do research online before actually visiting a restaurant and they use channels that are convenient for them. With 3.21 billion social media users, most visitors turn to social media platforms to learn more. So, if you’ve utilized social media marketing for restaurants, that’s great. But if you’re going to start with one social media channel, make it Instagram

The popularity of Instagram is constantly growing. As specified in one report, over one billion people use Instagram and they upload 95 million photos or videos daily. It’s no doubt that users are active on the platform, but they also use Instagram to get in touch with businesses. Just imagine: 90% of Instagrammers follow at least one brand in-app. 

When it comes to the restaurant business, Instagram is a place to be. Why? Over the last few years, over 383 million posts have been tagged with #food hashtag. What is more, visitors often add a geotag to their posts which means free marketing for your restaurant. Plus, geotagging allows you to reach your local community and attract potential customers.


In this article, you’ll find all benefits of Instagram marketing for restaurants, best practices from successful restaurants with examples, and tools to help you create and execute an effective Instagram marketing strategy for your business.

5 Benefits of Instagram Marketing for Restaurants

It’s no secret that 65% of people are visual learners and they perceive visual information better. Instagram is a visual platform, so it gives a great opportunity for restaurants to share mouthwatering images of their meals to grab the attention of potential customers and make them want to visit your restaurant.

Once you’ve hooked your target audience’s attention, you have a variety of Instagram marketing features that allows you to promote your restaurant, interact with your followers, and turn them into loyal customers.

Here comes the list of five benefits of using Instagram marketing for your restaurant:

1. Hyper-targeted for local restaurant marketing campaigns

The Instagram community has over one billion users from all over the world, and 64% of them are Millennials aged between 18 and 35 years who call themselves “foodies“. This means your potential guests use Instagram often and they are ready to start a conversation with you on the platform.

Want to know the best part? No matter where your restaurant is located, you can reach your local community with geotags.

2. Customers want to interact with your restaurant on Instagram

As it was said above, 9 in 10 Instagrammers follow at least one business on the app. As specified in the Business Instagram report, US Instagrammers who are interested in restaurants are more active on the platform than other users. Not only do they like 4.5 more content and post 3x more than the average Instagrammer, but they also comment 7x more often.

If you use Instagram for restaurant promotion, you can be sure that your visitors are happy to interact with you on the platform.

3. Instagram has a variety of interactive restaurant-friendly features

Do you know that 25 million businesses and 2 million advertisers use Instagram for business promotion? As one of the fastest-growing social media networks with the highest engagement rate, Instagram has great sales potential.

When it comes to restaurant marketing, Instagram is still a place to be as it has a variety of business-friendly features: Instagram local business profiles, geotagging, bio link and Instagram Stories links, paid ads, etc. When done right, Instagram marketing can allow you to target the right audience and turn your followers into visitors with ease.

4. Restaurants can interact with customers during the lockdown

The outbreak of COVID-19 has affected all of us. Running a restaurant business, it can be daunting to survive during the lockdown. However, your customers spend much time on Instagram, so being active on the platform gives you an opportunity to keep your audience hooked and interested.

If you still wonder whether running an Instagram account is cost-effective, turn to math helpers to calculate your marketing costs. What is more, Instagram can help to manage your restaurant business through uncertain times, promoting takeaway, online ordering, delivery, and eCards. Moreover, Instagram allows you to set up digital gift cards and food ordering on the platform.

5. Instagram has built in customer feedback features for restaurants

When it comes to Instagram, users are not shy to express their thoughts. Since more and more people turn to Instagram for restaurant suggestions, customers are happy to share their experiences with others. For restaurants, this means an opportunity to collect customer feedback and improve your services.

According to GetVoIP, satisfied customers are 5x more likely to recommend your business to their friends and family, so listening to your guests is a great way to get positive word-of-mouth recommendations and attract more visitors to your restaurant.

Increase your restaurant’s online orders during and after the COVID-19 lockdown with 2ndKitchen.

5 Best Practices for Creating a Restaurant Instagram Marketing Strategy

With great sales potential, Instagram is a perfect place for both small and large restaurants to promote their businesses and attract visitors. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for restaurant promotion, there are several best practices that work well for all restaurants. 

If you want to promote your restaurant on Instagram, pay attention to the following best practices as they can help you boost results:

1. Switch your account to the Instagram local business profile.

Back in 2019, Instagram announced a new business profile type for local businesses. It has similar features to Google My Business, so your profile will include your business address, hours, contact information, price range, and website.

For restaurants, this means an opportunity to provide Instagram visitors with all relevant information about your place and therefore attract more customers.

2. Use the power of visual content to attract followers

The best way to stand out from the crowd and entice Instagrammers to visit your restaurant is to publish eye-catching photos and videos of your meals on the platform.

The majority of people perceive visual content better than any other type of information and Instagram users are more likely to tell their friends about your restaurant if they like your visuals and find them attractive. As a photo-sharing app, Instagram is a perfect place to showcase your menu.

3. Interact with your followers to keep your audience engaged

Instagram has the most engaged user base which means it doesn’t take much time or effort to establish a connection with your target audience.

When you interact with your followers, you strengthen your bond with potential customers who will consider your restaurant as an option when it comes to choosing a place to go. Moreover, Instagram offers a variety of tools to interact with your audience: from Instagram feeds to IGTV and Instagram Stories.

4. Collaborate with local influencers to promote your restaurant

The popularity of influencer marketing is still growing, so brands often turn to niche opinion leaders to get brand endorsements and promote their businesses. Working with local influencers, you can spread the word about your restaurant among the local community who can visit your place.

In fact, Instagram is the most favorite social media platform for influencers of all sizes and shapes, so you can achieve wonderful results collaborating with local influencers.

5. Instagram has built in customer feedback features for restaurants

Instagram contests are extremely popular among users. Not only do they increase user engagement rates, but they also help to achieve business results. For example, restaurants use email marketing often, so giving away prizes for a chance to grow your email list sounds like a good idea.

Obviously, you use an email address finder to get emails directly from the customers’ professional social profile pages, but organizing an Instagram giveaway is a great way to speed up the process and encourage potential visitors to share their personal information with you.

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5 Examples of the Best Restaurant Instagram Accounts

When it comes to Instagram marketing for restaurants, posting photos or videos of your meals isn’t enough to keep your audience engaged. Creating a compelling Instagram marketing strategy can be daunting, but you can learn from other restaurants who have already realized the power of Instagram.

Here are five examples of restaurant Instagram marketing strategies with actionable lessons to learn.


1. BAE & Co.

BAE & Co. sells ice cream, so it’s no wonder that the restaurant pays close attention to its Instagram feed in order to keep it bright, eye-catching, and beautiful. The company wants to be associated with something colorful and joyful, so it creates a series of Instagram posts to keep its feed cohesive.

However, BAE & Co. also uses Instagram to achieve its business goals and attract more customers, so Instagram helps to find its locations, read about new product announcements, and get the latest updates.


Instagram marketing tips we can learn from BAE & Co:

  • Use your restaurant’s Instagram bio to show off your locations
  • Create an eye-catching cohesive Instagram feed
  • Ask your loyal followers to support your business during COVID-19

2. Le Bernardin

Le Bernardin is a french restaurant in New York that has many positive reviews from popular restaurant magazines. The restaurant values its reputation, so it uses Instagram to tell new potential visitors about its achievements and show off the variety of delicious meals to keep the audience hooked.

The main focus lays on showcasing meals, but the restaurant also writes short yet sweet Instagram captions to tell the stories behind the menu. What is more, Le Bernardin creates photo/video posts, featuring their chef and employees to get closer to the target audience and create a bond with visitors.


Instagram marketing tips we can learn from Le Bernardin:

  • Share behind-the-scenes content to make your followers feel special
  • Use the power of long-form videos (IGTV) to share recipes 
  • Publish media reviews and customer testimonials

3. Starbucks

This coffee chain needs no introduction. Being one of the most popular cafes in the world, Starbucks has over 18 million followers on Instagram and it creates Instagram campaigns to attract more potential customers and increase customer retention.

Starbucks lays a bet on its eye-catching feed, combining professional and user-generated content visuals. The company uses the power of word-of-mouth marketing and tells followers about new products and these stories go viral. What is more, Starbucks monitors brand mentions and ask customers for permission to publish their best photos on the feed.


Instagram marketing tips we can learn from Starbucks:

  • Share stories about your employees to be authentic
  • Combine professional images and user-generated content
  • Introduce new products and seasonal dishes/beverages

4. Victors Restaurant

This restaurant is a great example of making the most out of Instagram. Victors Restaurant uses a mix of meals photos and interior design visuals to showcase the restaurant’s atmosphere. However, the restaurant also uses Instagram to get in touch with customers. 

Not only does Victors Restaurant promote discounts and offers to grab the attention of its visitors, but it also includes a call to action in the caption to encourage followers to share their thoughts. This method helps to understand customers’ pain points better and even generate startup ideas for other projects. What is more, the restaurant uses Instagram Stories Highlights to help visitors find all relevant information about the place with ease.


Instagram marketing tips we can learn from Victors Restaurant:

  • Promote deals, offers, and discounts in the bio section
  • Show the atmosphere in your restaurant with visuals
  • Use Instagram Stories Highlights to keep all important information in one place

5. Hook Coffee

If you’ve just started a restaurant business and you’re looking for inspiration, Hook Coffee is here to help you. This coffee shop is a great example of using Instagram for building brand awareness and reaching out to new potential customers.

The company targets Millennials, so it uses emojis to increase the power of storytelling and creates Instagram video posts to keep the audience engaged.

Why? Business Instagram claims that user-time spent watching videos grow 80% each year, so this content type grabs the attention of followers and gives you an opportunity to tell more about your business and products. Plus, Hook Coffee knows the power of social proof, so the company publishes customer reviews to ease the worried minds of other visitors.


Instagram marketing tips we can learn from Hook Coffee:

  • Create more video posts to keep your audience engaged
  • Promote your referral program in-app
  • Share customer reviews to increase brand loyalty and trust

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5 Best Instagram Marketing Tools for Restaurants

Here comes the list of Instagram marketing tools that can help you create and execute your marketing strategy for better results.


1. Crello

Review Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Overview: Crello is a graphic design tool for non-designers who want to create stunning visuals with ease. It allows you to choose templates, upload your brand logo or fonts, and customize visuals to make Instagram posts, Stories, and ads that fit your brand identity. It’s available in free and paid plans.


2. Planoly

Review Rating: 4.4 out of 5 Stars

Overview: Considered as the first visual planner for Instagram, Planoly is one of the most effective social media planners on the web. Its drag-and-drop feature allows you to upload posts and see your grid preview to create and plan an eye-catching cohesive feed. You can also find and repost user-generated content from your guests and draft multiple grids before planning to get the best results.


3. Keyhole

Review Rating: 4.2 out of 5 Stars

Overview: This platform helps track your hashtag’s performance and measure results to prove your campaign’s impact and ROI. Keyhole provides real-time and historical social media data and illustrates information in easy-to-read graphs and layouts. With this tool, you can use your brand hashtag to increase brand awareness and collect user-generated content.


4. SocialPilot

Review Rating: 4.3 out of 5 Stars

Overview: SocialPilot is one of the most popular social media management tools that allows Instagram marketers to get results without putting much time or effort into it. With this tool, you can create and schedule Instagram posts, analyze your effectiveness, and even provide customer service for your restaurant to solve customer requests in-app with your team.


5. Mention

Review Rating: 4.4 out of 5 Stars

Overview: As the name suggests, Mention monitors brand mentions and listens to your customers who share their experience with other Instagrammers online. It helps to understand what your guests think about your restaurant, understand their pain points, handle negative comments, and therefore increase brand loyalty and trust.

Bottom Line - Your Restaurant Needs to Have an Instagram Strategy

Instagram marketing is gaining in popularity and it offers many opportunities for restaurant businesses that target local communities. Today, more and more people seek out peer recommendations before visiting a restaurant, so having an Instagram presence is a great way to increase brand awareness, build brand loyalty and trust, and turn your followers into loyal customers who spread the word about your restaurant online. 

With the right Instagram marketing strategy, your restaurant can stand out from the crowd and get customers even during uncertain times, so don’t miss this opportunity to bring your restaurant business to the next level.


Hugh Beaulac

Hugh Beaulac is a content strategist behind MC2 blog who has over 7 years of social media marketing experience. With love for food and social media, he believes in the power of Instagram marketing for restaurant businesses, so Hugh shares his tips and tricks on using this platform for business growth. He often writes about Instagram marketing and you can find his latest articles on Twitter.

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