The Importance of “Click Plating”

In the world of hospitality marketing, our eyes are always bigger than our bellies, and that’s a great thing for savvy food marketeers. 90% of Instagram users are under 35 and Millennials eat out more than any other generation! There’s perhaps no industry for which Instagram is better geared than the restaurant industry. Research has shown that people 18-35 spend five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30% would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram presence was weak.

It used to be that you didn’t know what a dish looked like until you were sat at your table and it was presented to you, however now both venues and their customers make it a personal mission to post delectable and stylized photos of their food across social media daily.

Here are our top 5 reasons why Instagram should be a key platform in your restaurant social media marketing experience.

Cost Effectiveness

The key to any marketing campaign or platform should be cost-effective content. Instagram is 100% free to use, unless you decide to do some targeted advertising. You can play around with various types of content, test what works and what doesn’t for your online audience, without spend in a virtually unlimited potential reach.

Professional photography and videography would be preferable, and we highly recommend at least an initial campaign being professionally done, however most smartphones have incredible cameras these days and can take high-quality photos with the right lighting.

Opportunities with paid and unpaid Influencers

Instagram gave non-celebrities a new platform where they could grow a big following. There are thousands of food influencers. They range from micro-influencers with 2,000 followers to macro-influencers with accounts of 150,000 plus followers.

Fact: 49% of consumers count on influencer recommendations when making purchasing decisions. This is great news for the restaurant industry.

These tastemakers aren’t focused on Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat. In fact, 91% of influencers say that Instagram is their #1 platform. This is especially true for food bloggers and influencers. People love food photography!

If you can find an influencer willing to work with your restaurant, you can gain access to their followers without a big investment. That could be thousands of new potential customers, all without spending any money.

You can reach millions and easily talk to customers

Instagram has 1 billion active monthly users and 500 million daily users. And those users spend a lot of time on Instagram – an average of 53 minutes per day.

Compare that to Facebook’s daily users, who spend about 41 minutes per day on the app. That’s 22% less time than they spend on Instagram. This level of use provides businesses with unprecedented levels of access to potential customers.

And users aren’t interacting only with their friends and influencers: 80% of accounts follow at least one business on Instagram. And 75% of users take some kind of action, like visiting a website, after looking at a brand’s post.

With that kind of reach at your disposal, you’d be crazy not to start posting!

One of the key benefits of all this activity is that you can interact with your customers after they’ve come and gone. When people want to communicate, they turn to Instagram. Just look at the numbers.

There currently are 184 million total Yelp reviews. Compare that with more than 95 million new Instagram posts per day. And people interact with brands on Instagram more than any other platform. They actually want to hear from you!

When people post photos of their meal or experience, reach out! Let them know that you appreciate them coming in.

If someone makes a complaint on one of their posts, you can send them a message to get more information about their visit. And you can follow up with an apology or a gift card to get them to come back.

Use location and trending hashtags. These will allow you to be more visible so potential followers can find you more easily.

One of Instagram’s key benefits is how easy it is for users to find new accounts to follow. Unlike Facebook where you have to actively seek out content, Instagram suggests posts you might like in the “Explore” feed.

By using geotags on your posts, you make your content visible to users who search for that location. Geotag your restaurant address so that anyone searching for your location will see your content.

Also geotag your street, neighbourhood, or city. You’ll provide an opportunity for users searching those locations to discover you. Local Instagram users may tag the same areas, and those common geotags will make you more likely to show up in their searches.

Geotags can also help your visibility with tourists. Visitors to the area search local geotags to get an idea of what is going on in the neighbourhood. If they’re staying at the hotel down the street, you want to make sure that your restaurant is popping up when they are exploring on Instagram.

The benefits of geotags aren’t limited to what the restaurant can do with them. Customers can also use your geotag on Instagram. And all geotagged content will appear when users click on the tag, whether it was created by the restaurant or the customers.

These geotag results show delicious food and customers having a great time. There’s also an important piece of news: the restaurant is closed for repairs.

This was an easy way to communicate with anyone checking out their geotag.

Hashtags are another great way to attract new customers. You can use local hashtags with your business name, street, neighborhood, or city to help people nearby find you.

You can use restaurant or food hashtags to attract the notice of foodies and people looking for somewhere to eat.

Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags, so you can really expand your reach. Different guides to Instagram have differing opinions on how many hashtags you should use on each post. Experiment with different numbers to see what gets the most engagement.

People can also follow hashtags on Instagram. Your content can appear in a user’s feed if you use a hashtag they follow, even if they’re not following your account.

 You can expand your reach with easy advertising

If you’d like to take your marketing to the next level, using Instagram ads is simple. Your ad can be a single photo, photo series, video, or slideshow. They can appear as posts or stories.

You can control how much you spend and customize the audience you’re trying to reach. You can pause your campaign at any time, and you’ll get detailed analytics of how it performed.

You’ll create your ad through Facebook’s Ad Manager, which will walk you through the process step-by-step.

Besides the benefit of getting your ad in front of more users, you’ll also be able to include a link with your promotion.

Currently, Instagram doesn’t allow links in your posts for most accounts, and you only get one link in your profile. But if you use a paid ad, you can include a clickable link right there. This will provide an easy way to get visits to your website, event page, or menu.

Final Conclusion

For restaurants, Instagram is the best way to get out there. Engagement is high and more people sign up every day. Users are looking for new content, so take some beautiful photos of your food, and you’ll have the kind of content people keep coming back for. More followers leads to more brand awareness. And then it’s just a short step to customers in seats and money in the bank.

The most important takeaway should be the ease and simplicity with which you can transform your venue into an instagrammable gold mine, although it will, of course, require ongoing account and operations management. Adapting your business to this fast-moving trend in the age of social media needn’t be daunting, as it may at first seem. This handy guide can help provide a blueprint from which you can launch your hotel to outstanding Instagram success.

Are you going to take advantage of this tool to grow your business? Or are you going to let yourself be outpaced by your competitors who do?