• Aleya Harris

Instagram 101: Growing Your Food Business’ Visual Brand

Having taken the plunge into exploring the world of social media as a means of promoting and building up the following of your business, one of the first things to think about is which social media platform you’ll want to consider using first. As a restaurant owner or food business professional, you’ll understand the importance visuals have on your craft. They say that people often eat with their eyes first before anything else. Because of this simple notion, Instagram can be a useful place to start growing your restaurant, catering, or food business’ clientele.

Instagram can be an important tool for your restaurant or food business because of its heavy focus on photos and video content. It is the perfect place for you to show off your menu or past events in a way that is unique and eye-catching for would-be clients. Instagram is also a relatively easy way to track stats and actively engage with your followers in a way that is effective in answering their questions and alleviating any possible concerns.

In this blog post, I’ll be covering all aspects of Instagram and how they can be useful in promoting your business. We’ll tackle the importance of knowing what to post and how to curate photos to help bring attention to your page, as well as how to use hashtags effectively and how to use the social platform to help engage with both your loyal followers and would-be clients.

Instagram Overview for Food & Event Business Owners

Out of all the social media websites and applications, you’ll want to consider using for marketing purposes, Instagram is where I would start. Whereas most social media sites have prominence on the web, Instagram is primarily used via the Instagram App. The layout of the app is similar to other networking platforms in that there is a user profile page, as well as a news feed. As you post and share photos on your account, they will be displayed on your profile page and will also appear in the news feeds of those users that choose to follow you. Likewise, the content of the users you choose to follow will appear on your news feed. Instagram also allows users to comment and like user-generated content that will appear underneath the appropriate content. There is also a private messaging function on the app which allows users to send non-public responses to others called DMs.

Your Instagram Bio

Before ever taking a scroll through your feed, most potential followers will stop to peruse your business bio. Having a well-maintained bio can be a more important undertaking than you might realize. Why? Because it tells prospective followers not only what you’re all about, but also why they should follow you and take the next steps toward interacting with your business. They say first impressions are everything, and that’s definitely the case when it comes to your Instagram bios.

Each business profile and bio should contain these seven major components:

1. Your Name

This seems pretty self-explanatory, but this is the bolded area where you’ll want to include your company’s name. This is important because not only will your name appear in search results, but if you add a keyword or two after your name, you can help ensure that you’re targeting not just the right audience, but also a wider one.

2. Your Username

This is how users will identify with you on Instagram. In most cases, this might also just be your company’s name, but can also be something associated with your business. Having the right username is important because it will also appear in your profile URL, meaning it is another way users can help identify and find your profile.

3. Link to Website or Other Content

This area is generally where most call to actions will take place. It’s the only place on your Instagram profile that you can add a clickable link. In most cases, this would be the ideal place to link to your restaurant website or maybe even your catering menu.

4. Your Business Category

You may not like to put your business in a box, but for the purposes of Instagram, adding a category helps followers and new users know what type of business you’re running.

5. Profile Photo

When choosing a profile picture for your business page, you want to choose a photo that speaks to your business and its branding. In most cases, this might be something as simple as your logo. This is the fastest way to stand out in a search list and make yourself recognizable and easily identifiable to your loyal followers.

6. Contact Information

After putting in all this hard work to perfect your bio, it only makes sense that your potential followers should know how to get in contact with you. One perk of a business Instagram account is that they make it easy for followers to contact you via email, phone or through your location thanks to contact buttons located within your bio.

7. Your Bio Text

With all the information above, you’d think your bio would be complete, but you still have 150 characters to sell yourself and your brand to your followers. This is where you should use the appropriate tone and speak to your target audience, all while showcasing your business’ personality.

Creating Craveable Content & Hashtags

When it comes to the type of content you’ll want to post on Instagram, you’ll want to go above and beyond just taking awesome pictures of your food. Sure, highlighting a visual representation of your menu is alright, but there’s so much more untapped potential with food and beverage owners and Instagram. This is another opportunity to add a bit of humanity and personality to your followers. Highlighting your staff and offering a behind-the-scenes look at how your business operates is another awesome alternative.

But no matter what you choose to post content-wise, the use of hashtags can help target your audience and ensure that all eyes that need to be on your business, are already there. While most people might view hashtags as worthless clutter, they’re pretty practical when it comes to marketing and promoting your business online.

Hashtags act as a sort of modern-day encyclopedia for the digital age in that every unique hashtag can serve as an identifier a user can use to find posts and content on a specific topic. This can be beneficial when trying to target your ideal audience. Pay careful attention to business pages and their content as well as what hashtags they use in their posts. By repeating some of these popular tags, you can ensure that your intended audience can quickly find your posts when performing a search. Using hashtags on Instagram also increases the potential to be discovered on the app’s Explore tab. The explore tag highlights popular posts and content related to your likes and search history.

Once more hashtags can help keep track of contests and user-generated content especially if you craft a handful of your own personalized hashtags that users can add to their posts when referencing your business. Instagram enables users to include a maximum of 30 hashtags, allowing users and businesses to mix and match popular hashtags as well as more niche and branding-specific hashtags.

Curated Foodie Photos

When it comes to producing a picture-perfect business profile, it’s important to remember that all the work shouldn’t be left on you and you alone. User-generated content can help add to your feed and promotional efforts without all the added work. The only thing you become responsible for is weeding through all the submissions and reposting the best of the best, or at the very least, those posts that match your branding and aesthetic.

What you might not realize about user-generated content is that it encourages your audience to get involved. This can help humanize your business and make your followers feel appreciated. In the world of food and beverages, this can be the difference in patrons posting about your restaurant and actually making a return visit.

While user-generated content can exist cohesively within your own photos and videos on your feed, Instagram stories is another way to get your followers involved by showing off their work and giving them a shoutout in the process. Stories is the perfect place to showoff one-off restaurant reviews or foodie photos taken inside your establishment. To help keep this kind of content all in one place, you’ll want to utilize those personalized branding hashtags that I mentioned earlier.

Engaging Your Potential Clients on Instagram

When you think of the term engagement in reference to social media, you probably think of the more common approaches to the topic such as comments and likes. And while these are perfectly adequate ways to engage with your followers online, it’s 2019 and these simple measures aren’t the only way you should be interacting with your followers to try and drum up business.

Instagram has a variety of unique tools and features that make engaging with your target audience and followers fun and easy. One recent update to the Instagram app included the ability to poll and ask questions in Instagram Stories. These stickers can be quickly inserted into your IG story and allow your followers to share their opinions and have their voices heard. Specifically, by asking questions through the app, you can add a more personalized touch by responding to submitted questions with video content of you or an employee answering the designated question.

Another way to increase engagement and help beat the newest algorithm might be something you might not expect from a visually-dependent platform. One aspect of determining how your posts perform is based on how long users spend interacting with your posts. To help increase the time spent on your feed, it can be suggested to include longer captions. It makes sense that with more to read, the times will increase. There’s a caption limit of 2,200 characters, so why not make every one count. This can become important when trying to portray to your audience your branding and business goals.

These suggestions are in no way an exhaustive list of ways to engage with your followers on Instagram, but they’re a unique and less conventional place to start. If you’re looking for even more tips and tricks to build quality engagement opportunities with your followers, check out this nifty little guide. Simply signing up for this free guide will give you instant access to five incredible tips to help convert your followers into full-fledged customers.

Hopefully, this blog post has left you more prepared to make the necessary changes in your business strategy to incorporate Instagram into your marketing campaigns for your restaurant or food business. But even if you need a little bit more help, the Social Media Pantry is here for you.

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