On social media today, your ability to be creative with the way you market your restaurant is as important as mastering the essentials of each platform – if not more so. Nowhere is that more true than on Instagram. Especially when you’re trying to build a loyal following to drive bookings from Instagram.
There are 440 million Instagram users, topping Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter. Therefore, engagement is also out of the world on this network, with per follower engagement rates on Instagram at 2.3%. For example, on Facebook, engagement hovers around 0.073% and on Pinterest it is 0.097%.
As a result, if your restaurant isn’t on Instagram, you’re missing out on potential diners. Since Instagram is a great place to build personal followings and connect with diners, you can use a properly-developed strategy to drive bookings from Instagram. Hence, it doesn’t take much of a budget, either!
In addition, Instagram limits sharing to pictures and 30-seconds-or-less videos. This makes it perfect for restaurants. For example, capture your vibrant food and beautiful space.
As a result, several restaurants are already thriving on Instagram through an array of best practices and proven techniques.
Note: This article is for Instagram accounts that are already up and running. It assumes you have a marketing plan set up, an engaging bio and a set of goals to meet.
Essential Strategies to Drive Bookings from Instagram
These are the musts. If you aren’t covering at least #1 and #3, your Instagram is going to go unfollowed. In addition, you’ll have serious trouble meeting your goals. Therefore, take a look and make sure you’re up to scratch:
1. Drive Bookings From Instagram By Sharing Photos of Your Restaurant
As we mentioned above, one of the biggest benefits restaurants have over other industries is their aesthetic appeal. Therefore, you can share a multitude of photos with your followers, ranging from food to decor to the surroundings, and even photos of diners having fun.
In addition, make sure you use a good camera to capture these photos – don’t just pull out your old flip phone. If possible, hire a professional photographer, or ask someone on staff who’s a photography buff if they’d be interested.
Drive Bookings From Instagram: Sharing photos works for 2 reasons:
Tell diners what to expect: The obvious benefit of sharing photos is that it provides potential diners a glimpse of what to expect from dining at your restaurant. Therefore, if they like what they see, they’ll be more likely to want to book a table and experience it in real life.
Trigger FOMO: If you share photos of other diners enjoying themselves, it triggers the same feeling we get when we see celebrities at great parties or read about high-profile events: we want to be there. This fear of missing out (FOMO) will make sure they keep you in mind when it’s time to book. Therefore, persuasive copy in your post descriptions and a call to action will help close the loop on the booking.
2. Run Contests To Drive Bookings From Instagram
Contests are one of the classics, and they have a lot to offer. Contests can rack up followers and engagement (likes and comments) quickly. Therefore, you can even get a hashtag to trend or build up your email list with contests. As a result, several restaurants have used contests to catalyse their Instagram marketing goals.
In addition, a key part of running a contest is remembering that each contest you run should only have 1 primary goal, plus 1 or 2 secondary goals that contribute to your marketing strategy.
Here are some quick steps for running a contest
Choose your goals: The first thing you must do while running a contest is to decide what you want it to accomplish. Do you want to get followers or engagement?
Then, set secondary goals. In other words, these might range from building your email list, to driving traffic, to getting one of your unique hashtags to trend.
Pick a prize: Your prize should be relevant and enticing. People should be willing to spend time to win it. Therefore, usually, an easy option is to give away a meal in your restaurant. It also promotes your restaurant and generates a lot of word of mouth as people like to speak proudly about prizes they won.
Define the steps: Write down the steps to participate in the contest. Therefore, these steps should be based on the goals you want to achieve. Keep it simple: if you want to get more followers, ask people to follow you. As a result, if you want engagement, ask for likes and comments.
Promote the contest: Once you’ve got your contest ready to launch, you should begin promoting the contest. Your primary promotion channel should be Instagram, since people are more likely to participate when they’re already on the site. Therefore, you can promote it with posts, in your bio, and with ads on Instagram.
On your restaurant site, promote it by creating a landing page where you describe the contest and how to take part in it. In addition, include the final dates entries will be accepted on to help drive urgency! Then, use your email newsletters, other social channels and even paid ads to promote it.
3. Add Relevant Tags to Photos
An easy way to make your Instagram photos more engaging is by adding hashtags. How many? Experiment and test your engagement, and don’t be afraid of adding too many. In other words, a report by TrackMaven found that posts with 11+ tags get the highest amount of engagement.
To get the best results, make sure you only use relevant hashtags. Therefore, don’t make up hashtags that make no sense, or use ones that are too long. In addition, you can find engaging and trending hashtags by using tools like Top Hashtags. You can also browse through your own analytics and use hashtags that brought you the best results in the past.
Creative Ways to Drive Bookings from Instagram
1. Display Fan-generated Instagram Content on Your Website
The content other users post on Instagram will have a bigger effect on people than the ones you post yourself – social proof is a powerful tool. Therefore, the main hurdle to overcome here is that the average number of Instagram followers per user is only 150.
This means that the things they say about you won’t reach huge numbers of people – a challenge you need to overcome if you want to drive bookings from Instagram in any significant number. However, one way you can ensure their posts reach more users is by reposting the images on your restaurant’s Instagram account. To avoid scaring followers away with too-frequent posts, display all these posts on your website and then divert traffic to it. In addition, people who are skeptical about booking a table at your restaurant can view all this social proof in one place, giving your conversion rate an instant jump.
2. Share Tips
Very few restaurants try to share helpful content on Instagram – the default is restaurant photos, food and promotions. While those are all good roads to go down, standing out from the crowd is a way to differentiate your restaurant and drive bookings from Instagram. Your restaurant can offer tips on topics such as recipes from your chef.
Try creating short videos – think about the success that 30-second recipe videos are getting. For example, check out Buzzfeed’s Tasty Instagram account. They regularly share short recipe videos and they perform brilliantly.
You can also directly add the tips to the images or the description, or you can ask people to visit your blog to check out the tips.
3. Share Video Testimonials
Another way you can take advantage of videos when you’re trying to drive bookings from Instagram is by sharing video testimonials of diners. To get testimonials, try running a contest requiring a video testimonial submission. This will work better if you promote it to repeat diners or diners in your loyalty club.
As a result, these are the essentials of Instagram marketing, along with some creative ways to give your account a boost. In addition, for more marketing tactics, there are several tools that can help you out. You can also browse through the Instagram accounts of other restaurants and related businesses for inspiration.