Outside of repeat customers, one way to gain new ones is to create demand.
And the best way to do that is to show your customer experience with pictures. Here’s why:
- The human brain can process images up to 60,000x faster than words.
- We remember 65% of pictures 3 days later — compared to just 10% of words.
- Seeing pictures of food makes us secrete a hormone, grehlin, that makes us hungry.
Below are 11 tips for how to use Instagram to get more followers and drive more conversions.
Goal: Get more people wanting to dine with you.
Spoiler alert: Make reservation-booking even easier by adding a “Reserve” button to your profile (SevenRooms customers can do that here).
1. Repost meal pictures you're already being tagged in.
Whether we realize it or not, as Instagrammers and as humans, we base our decisions off of what we see from our peers: pictures from people we follow on Instagram.
Which is why it’s worth taking pics your restaurant is already being tagged in, and sharing them with the world. (social proof + good looking pics → more bookings.)
Pro Tip: Use a free app like Repost for Instagram. No more screenshotting, cropping, and posting on your own. Just scroll through a page with your follower’s photos, and click one!
Don’t forget: In order to capture diners beyond those already following you, you need to use food and city hashtags for city. Keep in mind that foodies and critics monitor these hashtags!
2. Use giveaways to engage your Instagram business followers.
By asking your followers to comment on your photo or tag you in one of theirs, you increase engagement with your base and get new follows from their followers.
3. Promote an upcoming event at your location.
If you’re selling tickets to an upcoming event, use an instagram post to tease what they can out of the event with a visual, and then include a signup link (if you’re a SevenRooms customer, you can use a Reserve link right on your profile to keep the booking experience on Instagram).
4. Celebrate days of the week to get the most followers.
Whether it’s a miserable Monday or a fun Friday, play on the emotions & taste hankerings of your followers to get reservations. They'll tag their friends, and those friends will follow you.
Here’s an example for Monday, from @theniceguyla:
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to hashtag your own restaurant in your caption, because guests searching for you may click on your hashtag to see pictures from all Instagram users.
Here’s a great food example for Friday, from @lincolnsouthbos:
5. Advertise your specials during shoulder times.
One of the best ways to drive demand is to let your delicious menu speak for itself. Here how Ristorante Morini (@ristomorini) does that:
Who can say no to lobster? Notice how they tag food publications to catch their attention, too.
6. Include a sneak preview of what you’ll serve before a shift.
If you’re about to launch a new item, say when and what in the caption, and show it firsthand in your picture:
Picture courtesy of @catchdubai.
7. Celebrate national food days.
We all want to be the first to know something, so we can share it with our network. Use this to your advantage by alerting your followers to: a) the fact that it is an obscure food- or drink-related national holiday, and b) your related menu item, which sells itself in its picture.
8. Advertise seasonal meals that will only last for a limited time.
These truffles speak for themselves (great work, @majordomola):
9. Take advantage of the weather.
Whether it’s giving your followers refuge from bad weather or being there to help them celebrate the good, recognizing the local weather is a way to create a bond and drive reservations:
10. Announce a new menu by showing it.
It’s one thing to read an item on a menu. It’s another thing entirely to see it laid out on a table for you.
No need to stare at your neighbor's plate when @vauclusenyc gives it all to you beforehand:
11. Use pop culture and popular events to get engagement.
When it comes down to it, the people who follow your Instagram account are just that: people. That means you can focus on points of connection, just like you would in a real conversation.
Here’s how NYC-based Lugo Cucina takes advantage of its location by Madison Square Garden when its game night:
1. Start small — Pick one tip and start doing it for a month before adding a new one.
2. Use an Instagram scheduler to plan posts in advance and not have to remember on your own. It’s important to get a cadence going so you have a sustainable presence that keeps your followers engaged.
3. Get a Reserve button if you don’t have one already. If you’re a SevenRooms customer, contact your CSM or write to us at email@example.com.