If you are a social media savvy restaurant owner, the three accounts you are almost guaranteed to have up and running for your business are Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  While Facebook can feel somewhat intuitive and familiar, and Twitter has become so popular that the technical speak of the platform has entered our cultural lexicon, Instagram doesn’t always get as much love or use from restaurant owners.  Which is a shame, because the social media site is one of the most powerful there is for restaurateurs if used correctly.  If you use Instagram to promote your restaurant but have run out of ideas, have no fear: here are some fresh Insta ideas for restaurant owners to jump start and revitalize their Instagram presence.

1.  Get Special!

If you’ve read some of our other posts, you know how powerful of a tool instagram can be for sharing your menu with potential supporters and long time customers alike.  As a primarily visual platform, Instagram is incredibly well adapted for sharing pictures of food to entice other user’s appetites.  And you can and should jump aboard this trend by sharing pictures of your special menu items whenever you can.

Posting your specials as well lit, enticing photos on Instagram serves a variety of functions.  First, whenever you have an excuse to share pictures of your food, do it!  The more beautiful photos of your food are on the internet, the better.  Second, by posting your specials, you effectively advertise them to your core followers, luring in regulars for some of your less common or more “special” dishes.  Posting your special menu options on social media is a no-brainer, and Instagram is the perfect place to share this kind of news.

2.  Get Interactive!

Instagram is a SOCIAL network, meaning you have to spend some time interacting with others to get the most out of the platform.  When you comment on the photos of others and show them some love by “liking” what they post, they will be more likely to return the love, and your posts will get seen by more people the more interactions they generate.  And even if you never get comments back on your posts, every time you interact with someone else, the name of your restaurant will show up on their screen.  Free advertising!

Some good practices for interacting with other Instagram users?  For starters, comment on the pictures posted by your most devoted followers.  Doing so shows appreciation for their continued support, and helps build community around your restaurant.  From there, get creative with your ideas about interacting with fans.  Post a picture of one of your most popular dishes with the caption “who is hungry?”  Post a picture of your menu and ask “what should we add to our new menu?”  Experiment with interactive ideas, and see what your fan base reacts to most favorably.

3.  Bring Instagram Into the Real World

Sometimes, it can feel like social media ONLY exists on the internet, but there are a lot of ways that you can bring that support into the real world and see some of the benefits of social networking interact with more traditional marketing techniques.  Don’t think that Instagram has to only be a word people see on phone screens: get your Insta name out there in the real world too!

One of the simplest and most effective ways to get the word out about Instagram is to hang physical signs in your restaurant advertising your Instagram accounts.  At their most basic level, signs can say something along the lines of “Follow us on Instagram!” with an Insta icon, but from there you can get a lot more creative and see what your followers and customers respond to.

Start by including a small message on your receipts about Instagram, with your user information.  Doing so will make sure that everyone who eats at your restaurant will see that you are active on the site.  From there, try hanging signs with more creative calls to action.  Post a flyer with something like “What’s your favorite dish?  Show us on Instagram with a picture!”  and watch all of your customers with Insta accounts turn into foodies and help you advertise your food.  Keep thinking of ways that you can get people talking about, using, and interacting with Instagram in the real world, and your marketing reach from the platform will grow and grow.

The Bottom Line:

Instagram can feel like a foreign language if you are just getting started on the platform, but if you have some familiarity with social media, Instagram doesn’t have to be scary.  The site lends itself well to creativity and experimentation, and is perfectly suited for restaurant promotional use.  Start with the fresh ideas above if you ar at a loss, and keep experimenting with Instagram for your restaurant.