How to Turn Instagram Followers into Paying Customers


Instagram should be a key part of every business's marketing strategy. Modern customers expect a restaurant to have a high-quality Instagram filled to the brim with content.


If you don’t have an active Instagram, you’re doing your business a disservice. Customers will trust the quality of your restaurant or catering business less. It’s been said over and over again that people trust social media more than advertising. You are also missing out on a valuable tool to redirect new customers to your business's website if you don't optimize your Instagram for sales conversion.


Turning Instagram followers into customers is actually simpler than most people think. To accomplish this goal, you need to utilize an optimized Instagram funnel, use calls to action within captions, provide teaser content that hooks customers in, and, in general, provide value to your potential customers. Do these things properly and the time you spend on Instagram will be well-spent (in other words, you’ll increase your income significantly).


This article is a guide to utilizing Instagram effectively within the food and beverage industry in order to convert your social media presence into monetary gain. Before I teach you how to get more customers with Instagram, let's explore how to increase your follower count.


5 Tips to Increase Your Follower Count

Follow these tips and you’ll transform quickly transform a “dead” Instagram account into a thriving, vibrant marketing tool for your restaurant or catering business.


1. Post daily

Consistency is absolutely required to make an impact on social media. The competition is simply too high for sporadic posting to make any kind of impact. To be successful, I highly recommend posting daily or multiple times a day.

Unfortunately, consistency is extremely difficult, especially when you have to provide quality content. Running a food and beverage business is hard enough (believe me I know; it’s a rough industry). If you’re like most people, you simply don’t have the time.


As a result, most Instagram accounts wax and wane when it comes to posting. I constantly see accounts from the food and beverage industry post Instagram content regularly for months, then stop posting for months, proceed to start posting again regularly, then give up again due to time constraints.


This is a difficult cycle to break. That’s why our social media kit is valuable. We do the heavy work so you don’t have to worry about being consistent. Instead of focusing on your Instagram, you can focus on your business.


2. Be innovative

Unfortunately, the competition for Instagram is high. If you want to succeed in this competitive landscape, you must be innovative.


Most people within the food and beverage industry promote the same old stuff. It ends up being generic, and generic on the Internet is next to useless. There are a billion pieces of content out there so customers aren’t interested in boring. Either innovate or you’re wasting your time. In other words, provide unique content or don’t try at all.


You have to provide compelling content within the incredibly competitive food and beverage social media landscape. This can be incredible photos with unique captions and/or compelling video content.


3. Use hashtags to your advantage.

This tip seems obvious, yet I constantly see social media accounts that only use a few hashtags per post. If you do this, you are seriously limiting your traffic. Curating hashtags take some extra time but it’s well worth the effort. We recommend 10-20 hashtags per post.

Making this change can bring in significantly more traffic. Make hashtags work for you; it’s literally free traffic just from adding some simple keywords or keyphrases to your captions.


4. Post social proof

The best way to convert followers to potential customers is to showcase why your restaurant or catering business is amazing. You can achieve this goal by posting social proof of people enjoying your food and beverage business.


This can include things such as posting children (with parental permission) that are happily enjoying your food or even posting a video testimonial of a happy adult customer.


Additionally, consider publishing positive reviews from customers on your Instagram page.

Humans pay attention when they see other people enjoying something. Leverage this trait by using social proof, and your business's follower count will increase.


5. Use a Cohesive Aesthetic

This means each photo should be about the same level of quality and your posts should follow a pattern. Things that fall outside your aesthetic (or brand in general) take potential customers out of your world.


After all, they want to eat at a place that is consistently professional with a consistent atmosphere and your Instagram marketing should reflect this. Aesthetics, whether in business in general or on social media, is often the difference between a loyal customer and one who lurks on Instagram without spending a cent.


All Roads Lead To Your Website (Instagram Lead Funnel)

The key to converting Instagram followers into customers is to promote your business using an Instagram lead funnel. In other words, market your Instagram appropriately so that your viewers are funneled to your website.


This is a key point to keep in mind because, in my experience, most accounts within the food and beverage industry aren’t utilizing a lead funnel properly. As a result, they’re severely limiting the sales potential of their Instagram account.


So, remember that all roads should lead to your website. The goal of your Instagram account isn’t to simply gain followers or likes but instead to entice users to visit your website.




5 Ways to Get Your Instagram Followers to Your Website

Each of these tips is completely free and can be implemented quickly:


1. Give them a coupon

What’s the best way to get people to check your business out? Give them a discount code for your restaurant. In your Instagram caption mention that you’re giving away a free discount code. They can access it if they visit your website.


2. Give a free eBook

An eBook can incentivize people to visit your website. For example, you could provide a free download link to a recipe related to your food business's content.


The freebie will push people to leave the comfort of Instagram and head to your website. Once they’re on your website, they will browse around and, if things go well, they will make a purchase.


3. Give captivating info

In your caption, mention that more information is available on your website. The key to this technique is to write a captivating caption that leaves the reader wanting more.


For instance, you could write a caption that describes an interesting customer success story with an enticing picture. You would then include a link to your website were your followers can click to learn more.


4. Run a contest

A contest that relates to the food and beverage industry can be a great way to get your Instagram followers to visit your website. Post a caption that says the details of the contest (including the prizes) are available on your website.


This technique requires some planning, money, and effort, but it can pay off big time. Contests can easily convert your social media followers into lifelong customs.


5. Tell a story

Include a picture of the story and a caption that entices the reader to read more. The caption should mention why the story is so exciting. Then, direct the reader to your website so they can view the full story.


For instance, this could be a customer that used the health section of your restaurant’s menu to lose a significant amount of weight. Stories like these really make customers want to check out your business.


How to Convert Website Visitors Into Customers

Once your visitors reach your website, your job isn’t finished — you need to convert these visitors into customers.


So, you should have a professional website with clear calls to action. Your website should clearly indicate the value of your product or service so visitors will want to become customers. The average rate of conversion tends to be 3%. If your conversion rate is lower, it’s time to consider a website and content makeover.


A technique you can use to convert website visitors to customers is to capture their email (often, by using a freebie as an incentive) then promote to them over time by sending out emails.


Another way to improve improves customer’s confidence in your product is to include a regularly updated blog related to your business. This uses the concept of content marketing, which, in simple terms, is to indirectly market to your customers through content. So, when a customer reads an informative blog post on — -for instance, a food recipe —  they’ll be more likely to purchase from your business.


If you follow this guide, you have what it takes to get the most out of your Instagram. Your business on Instagram has a lot of potentials — much more most people within the food and beverage industry realize. You simply have to follow a smart marketing strategy, and you’ll start seeing results.


It’s time to start getting direct monetary compensation for all the effort you put into your Instagram. Good luck!



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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aleya Harris is the owner of The Social Media Pantry and Growth.

She is a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef who also happens to be an award-winning, data-driven marketing strategist, change leader, brand manager and creator, content developer, and storyteller. She has a background as a marketing professional on the leadership teams of large foodservice organizations and has also been a private chef and catering company owner.