Over the past few years social sharing has taken off like the proverbial rocket. This is especially so for restaurants, with some saying this communication vehicle has reshaped the industry.

They just might be correct.

Instagram is an example of this change that now has restaurants with no choice but to at least look at its workings and what it may offer.

So what has Instagram done?

Depending on who you talk to, and probably also depending on which side of the food service industry they sit, Instagram has either made us all food critics or amateur photographers. It has allowed with its simple usage, a social availability enabling restaurants to market on a wider scale, all without too much effort.

If you think about it, a restaurant’s customers create, without even knowing it, a fan base for your venue. Supporters appear to be right on the money when shouting the benefits of Instagram and are among many who now are of the understanding that every restaurant needs this societal channel.

Marketing and Instagram can be taken very seriously as an aspect of any restaurateurs marketing plan and it’s certainly worth looking at a few ways to make this work for you

Journal Your Activities

Showing off your business is why social sharing is such a powerful too.

It allows a restaurant owner to really connect with his or her customers on a different level. A level alternative to simply the food on offer. Consider giving viewers ‘a day in the life of’ your restaurant.

Through photos and videos, chronicle what it’s like to be a part of your everyday. It’s amazing how much people are interested in what happens behind the scenes.

It allows an interaction and a sense of belonging to your establishment. Interest builds with this sort of customer involvement. Consider it a kind of press release or a general interest article in a local paper, but brought into the 21st century.

Encourage Diners

Take a quick look around next time you’re in a restaurant and you will find many diners taking photos of their food.

Don’t be mistaken into thinking their chicken must look like the face of a well-known actor, or heaven forbid, the image of Mary Magdalene.

No it won’t be due to such things, but simply down to the fact that whatever the reason, the humble image of this plate of food will be sent coursing the social media outlets, as a symbol of the diner’s present experience.

Whatever the motivation, restaurants are seeing the benefits of this activity. The images are clear, surprisingly professional looking, and depict something you would no doubt be proud of.

There’s no shame in letting people know your happy with your food and its presentation, and if your customers are happy to share their experience, then so be it.

People go to a great deal of effort to make sure their image is perfect for their viewing public, and matching their enthusiasm is the restaurant owner’s willingness to encourage it even further with some establishments offering an Instagram Booth.

Patrons can photograph themselves within a backdrop of previous diners, or images of the restaurant and its most photographed dishes.

Ready or not, your food is now ready for its close-up.

Share With Other Sites

Further on from the proposition of your customers sharing with the people in their world, is the belief that you as a restaurant owner should also partake in the distribution of what you bring to the table.

You and your staff are some of the best advocates for your restaurant, something that can be forgotten.

Get everyone involved. The more the merrier.

Drag your business partners along for the ride. Sharing images and info on multiple sites allows for greater visibility. Wherever there is an opportunity to advance your brand’s presence, is an equally important opportunity to build interest and generate revenue.

You partners are in this with you.

Gained and continued exposure through diversification will only be of benefit to your restaurant in the long run.

Promotion Through Competitions

Competitions are a great way to generate business and general interest in what’s going on for your community’s food lovers.

Competitions build excitement and can be related to a specific calendar event, such as Christmas In July, or you may choose to offer a series of events for which a competition is a part.

The best photo of your restaurants signature dish can draw an enormous amount of interest. Don’t forget, people are now used to using their new found skills and believe they are quite adept at taking really good shots.

Take advantage of your customer’s willingness to expose your restaurant in the best light.

Using Hashtags

Hashtags are best if you use your own.

Think about what you want to say or the emphasis you wish to put forward.

By way of example, have a different hashtag for any special event you may be having. This way you are able to direct specifically to those customers looking for particular things. Maybe #amazefood. That will get them interested.

There are really no hard and fast rules associated with having hashtags, just that oversaturation is probably not the way to go. Have a few, sure, and always be sure to make use of any that happen to be trending. This will encourage more visibility.

Introduce New Product Lines

Instagram is an excellent tool to share new menu items and beverages. This is a great way to stimulate the appetite of your onlookers, and inspire them to visit your establishment.

Images of beverages and food new to your existing patrons are arguably one of the best forms of advertising without the need to be knee deep in explanation of ingredients. Leave that to your online menu.

Every picture tells a story, doesn’t it?

Comments and Feedback

Let’s face it, society seems to be a little more than obsessed with ‘selfies’, and sharing every aspect of everyday living.

Instagram takes full advantage, and I’m, sure makes no apologies, for the smartphone and tablet technologies of the day.

Restaurants, if they play their cards right, can totally further encourage diners on this by allowing customers to record and discuss their food, service and dining experiences.

Having people comment and share their experiences is all a part of a social following you want your restaurant to have. This is free advertising at its best. Hand up who likes that idea?

Food is everywhere. It is with us whether we are watching television, traveling in our cars or working on a construction site.

Advertising, almost subliminally today, is so geared towards us thinking about food for a large part of the day, we tend to forget the media’s impact.

So, do we as consumers live to eat or eat to live?

One look at Instagram and the former would appear to be the case.

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