It’s no surprise that social media has grown to become a vital part of any business strategy. Instagram, the social media platform that allows users to share photos and videos, has become a giant in the social sharing realm. The endearing part about Instagram is that users can post whatever they please, images ranging from day-to-day activities to professional photographs of memorable moments.
Recently, Instagram released a new version of their “Explore” tab, which has restaurants who were previously uninterested scrambling to join the social media movement.
Before the change, Instagram’s Explore tab was a feature that let users see an array of popular pictures with no specific link to each other. People could filter such images by searching for a specific hashtag or person.
Instagram’s updated version is a lot cleaner and user-friendly. It offers several categories in which you can, well, explore! Sections include trending tags, trending places, explore posts and a handful of other interesting topics. Of course, you can still use the search function if you needed to find something in particular.
Great! Instagram revamped their Explore tab. Now why should you (the restaurants) care? These new segments of posts allow users to better discover your restaurant if people are talking (and posting) about it. Inspire user-generated content by creating an account for your restaurant with specific hashtags that can easily lead back to you. For example, if you have a specialty pulled pork sandwich, you might want to use the obvious #pulledpork but also include things like #bbq and #foodie. The more people that use these terms and tag your restaurant, the more likely the image will start trending and have increased views.
Your restaurant can also utilize Instagram as a research tool. Take note of the pictures and videos customers are sharing with their friends and followers. Is there a dish or drink you can deem as a “fan favorite” that is constantly posted? On the opposite end, are there any foods that never make the cut? Instagram can help you tweak your menu to reflect the wants of your customers and boost slow moving inventory.
Advertising your social media presence is crucial. Be sure to have your Instagram handle (your username) and any hashtags associated with it somewhere in your restaurant. They can appear on the menu, on a sign, or can be involved with a promotional deal (“Follow us on Instagram and get 10% off your bill!”). Act however you feel fit, and remember that customers posting about your restaurant, your food and your drinks are free branding.
Finally, keep in mind that social media is a two-way street. Simply creating an account and posting images isn’t going to get your restaurant very far. Create relationships with your customers by commenting on their posts and letting them know that you appreciate their business and opinion. The opportunity to interact with people in real-time will keep old guests happy while reeling in the new. This is an easy way to give your business a personality and make it more than just a place to spend money.
Even Uncorkd has joined the Instagram frenzy. Follow us @Uncorkdmenus to see what we’re up to and who we’re working with. Cheers!