A Restaurant’s Guide to Instagram

Chances are you’ve seen a photo posted from Instagram before. Instagram is a simple and straightforward mobile photo sharing app. It is an excellent tool to help you showcase your food, products, and what goes on in your restaurant. Keep reading and we’ll tell you how you can join in the fun and use Instagram to market your restaurant.


What is Instagram?

Instagram started in 2010, offering filters (we’ll tell you what these are in a little bit) that transformed mobile photo editing. Today, there are over 800 million Instagram users on iOS and Android devices. You can use Instagram on your desktop to look at your photo feed or update your profile, but Instagram is designed for and used primarily on mobile devices. How to get started?


Register yourself as a user 

Start by downloading the Instagram app to your mobile device. Follow the instructions to register yourself. Add your profile picture, like your logo or restaurant image. Use the same photo as your other social media accounts in order to be consistent. In your profile, you can also include a brief 150 character bio and link to your website.


Manage your notifications 

Enable some or all push notifications to keep in touch with your followers. Some push notifications you may like to receive are likes and comments about your photos, and @mentions (when someone mentions you in a post or comment). These notifications can be controlled in the settings page. Notifications will be visible in the Instagram news section, which is located in the navigation panel at the bottom of the page.


Be social 

As we mentioned before, Instagram is almost exclusively a mobile app, which means it’s a good idea to connect it to your other social media accounts to get the best experience and the most visibility. Instagram can be linked to Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Tumblr, Flickr, and VK. Mixi and Weibo are only available to iPhone users in Japan and China. Connect your social media accounts by going to your profile tab, clicking on the Settings icon, and tapping on Share Settings. Each time you post a photo, you will be able to choose which social networks you want to share with.


Adding photos 

Instagram is all about photos. To start taking and posting photos, touch the camera button in the middle of the navigation panel. You can choose to take a new photo, or share a photo from your library by touching the square on the bottom left hand side of the screen.


Adding filters 

Now comes the fun part — adding those funky filters we were talking about before. Filters make your photos look professionally edited. Some add a vintage look, some are black and white, and others add a different color hue to your pictures. Experiment with a few different ones to see which suits your photo best. Everyone has their favorite filters and there is no right filter to use. You be the judge. In addition to filters, you can also add frames to your photos. Have fun experimenting, but remember to also stay true to the feel and branding of your restaurant.



This is probably a favorite feature used for food photography, as Tilt-Shift allows you to focus on one particular area of the photo. Have you seen those beautiful food photos slightly blurred at the edges? Now you can get that same effect without a DSLR camera lens. The tilt-shift feature is the button that looks like a drop of water. You can choose to either use a horizontal bar or circle, and then it can be positioned by dragging your finger to the desired focal point.


Instagram video 

To shoot a video, press the camera button and then choose the video option on the right. Films can be shot in one segment or several short clips linked together. To shoot different clips, take your finger off the record button. Just like with photos, when you are happy with your film, touch Next to add filters.



Now you are ready to share your photo or video! Touch the Next button on the top right of the screen and you will be taken to the social sharing screen. Here, you can add a caption, hashtag (for example, with the name of your city or the name of the dish you’re sharing), and @mention other Instagram users. These are particularly useful if you plan to share on Twitter as well. You can enable location services to tag your location. Then, you can select which social networks to share with.


Using Instagram for Restaurant Marketing

Once you’ve gotten the hang of using Instagram, here are a few quick tips on how you can use it to promote your restaurant.

      Behind the scenes: Take photos of your food, dining room, staff, basically anything that has to do with a day in the life of your restaurant. You can show food preparation, customer service, and how you get ready for a big event.

      What’s new? Use Instagram to take photos of new menu items and special cocktails.

      Take better photos: You don’t actually need to use the Instagram app to take photos. You can use a regular camera or alternate camera app. You can even use other apps for photo editing before posting, too.

      Customer photos: Encourage your customers to post photos taken at your restaurant or while in your restaurant (and ask them to add a hashtag or @mention you). You can turn this into a competition by rewarding great photos with free meals or discounts. You can also encourage them to post while in your restaurant and then share their photos on digital signage.

      Hashtags and geo-tagging: These help people find posts by subject or location. Create your own company hashtag #yourrestaurantname and publicize it on your website, business cards, and other social media sites. Use your company hashtag on all of your Instagram posts to keep it live. Adding a geotag to your posts helps you connect with Instagram users nearby.

Instagram is a useful part of any social media strategy. Be sure to post relevant photos, connect to other social media sites, follow similar restaurants to help start a conversation with other followers, use hashtags and geotags, and most importantly post often and have fun!


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