7 Restaurant Instagram Marketing Tips for 2021

2021 is just around the corner, and with the new year comes new ways of connecting with potential patrons and curating branded content. Instagram is quickly becoming the most invaluable methods brands have to grow their audience and interest consumers. Within the restaurant industry, it’s all about elevating the experience. While the end goal is to get people into your space and drive sales, being Insta-famous goes a loooong way. Check out our handy-dandy tips below to score those likes, reposts, and shares:

1. Familiarize yourself with the new Instagram format and strategize how that can increase sales

First thing’s first. Make sure your brand has the latest Instagram layout complete with the Grid, Reels, IGTV, Shopify (if you sell merch or gift cards online), Filters, and Tagged thumbnails. You want your brand to come across as up to date in comparison to your competitors. Utilize the “link in bio” feature on promotional posts to drive traffic to your website or any other conversion landing page. Establish a mini goal for each post to be sure you are leading your followers to the right place at the right time with little to no effort on their part. The easier the user experience is to go through, the more conversions you will notice over time and it generates repeat business. Online user experience is key now that 2020 has shifted everything into digitally-focused interactions, so you want your patrons to have a convenient, easy, and simple way to find what they want.

2. Incorporate more influencers and UGC for more local engagement

“Influencer” has become a side hustle or full time job for many as social media grows as a marketer’s dream for advertising, building brand awareness, and customer reach. When searching for a local Instagram influencer, check out your explore page and foodie driven hashtags to pinpoint those individuals that have a great following in the community. Be sure their personality traits and lookalike audience aligns with your brand’s to determine if it’s the right fit. Incorporating influencer partnerships and community-led content not only expands your reach and brand awareness but it gives you more diversified content that is less promotional and shows that you are actually listening to your audience.

3. Design Branded AR filters and stickers

This is a specialty you may have to outsource or have your graphic designer learn to use since it’s a very specific AR software platform. However, these work to increase engagement, brand awareness, and they enhance the customer experience. For instance, if your brand creates a filter and your advocates are using it on their stories, their followers will see your brand at the top of their page. If they want the filter installed on their phone, they must follow the brand and install the filter onto their Instagram, creating a chain reaction. It must be a filter that fits your brand but also comes in demand from your engaged audience. 

4. Get innovative with your food and drink content

Carousel posts continue to trend, so why not be innovative in the way you present this type of post to your followers? For restaurants, it could be as simple as building one of your famous dishes step by step in each photo as the user swipes. Or coming up with ways to use your dishes as leftovers with items lying around on Reels. Valuable content comes in many forms but overall should evoke an emotion, be aesthetically captivating, and/or solve a problem to get your followers engaged and interested.  

5. Advertise on Instagram stories 

We have seen substantial growth in Instagram stories, outperforming posts in the traditional feed with impressions and completion rates for branded content. In 2019, marketers were already using ⅓ of their Instagram budget on stories so if you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon already you should plan to in 2021. We recommend designing a series of slides that tells an engaging story about what sets your restaurant apart from your competitors. At the end of the story, be sure to include a CTA to swipe up and include your website for a simplified journey. The less moves your prospective consumer has to make, the more likely they will discover and convert.

6. Cross promote your other platforms 

If you have a strong social media presence on other channels and Instagram is a great bridge to promote those. Being present on different channels allows you and your brand to interact with a variety of audiences, formats, and languages, so it could assist in identifying content that appeals to a broader audience. This allows you to develop a more diverse way of communicating, and increases your network. Another perk of being consistently active on different platforms is that it improves your search engine ranking thus driving traffic, and ultimately sales. Promotion isn’t limited to talking about your other platforms either; screenshot Twitter interactions with customers and post it on Instagram, share heartfelt Facebook reviews, even post relevant TikToks (either created user-generated or made by you) on your Reels feed. Reposting great content from your other platforms is a great way to create meaningful interactions on your IG profile—don’t forget to link your accounts together!

7. Hire a creative content creator

Gone are the days of low quality shot photos, video, and mediocre text overlays. You don’t have to have the best equipment to get quality imagery and video, you just need someone who understands the tricks of the trade and/or software tools to get those produced looking shots and branded content. Regardless of product or brand, high quality images and graphics are more likely to drive interactions. The content and composition of your photos and videos, not just as individual posts, but also in relation to your Instagram grid and overall look. You want to make sure, and we really can’t emphasize this enough, that your aesthetic is purposeful, and is well, actually aesthetic. 

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