If you are looking to reach new customers and interact with existing ones, there’s no better way than by using Instagram for your restaurant marketing. With more than 340 million posts tagged #food and 37 million with #drinks, food and beverage photos are easily some of the most popular types of content on Instagram. 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.

Why care? As a restaurant, you know connecting with customers and keeping your restaurant top-of-mind is an important key to your success. Instagram allows you to put your best food forward, interact with your customers in an authentic way and reach new people. So whether you’ve tapped into Instagram already or need some instruction to get started, here are some tips to help maximize your success on today’s most powerful social media platform.

Statistic: Distribution of Instagram users worldwide as of April 2019, by age group | Statista

  • 79% of Instagram users are between the ages of 18-44. These people are either firmly in your demographic, or soon to be. Most likely, your target audience is engaging with Instagram on a daily basis. To reach these customers, you need to post 3-5 times a week and create engaging content to keep them interested.
  • 88% of people are influenced by reviews and online comments, having an intentional digital strategy is important to your restaurant or bar.

The Basics of Posting on Instagram for Restaurants

1. Always post your best images.

Your goal is to get a customer’s attention. If you are posting food, make sure the photo is appetizing. Your restaurant interior? Inviting. A photo of your staff? Make me want to work there. Avoid blurry images, images that are too close up, or ones you simply don’t love. Use imagery that reflects your brand by sticking with a consistent filter or Lightroom preset. Need a food photographer – we can help with that.


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We’re delicately crafting new cocktails for you this week. See you at 4pm.

A post shared by Franklin Hotel Bar (@franklinhotelbar) on

2. Be consistent.

Your Instagram feed is a representation of your brand. When a potential customer is deciding whether or not to follow you or interact with your photos, they are going to base it off of looks. Establish a theme you can maintain, such as a general color scheme, editing technique, or photographic style.

3. Post often.

The more you post, the more likely people are to see your content, and therefore, your restaurant. As a rule of thumb, I aim for one post a day. You can always post more or less often than that, but avoid posting photos too close together (space out photos by at least 4 hours). It’s okay to test out posting more or less often to find your sweet spot. We typically post weekend specials for clients on Thursdays to entice existing and potential customers to make a reservation.

Increasing Your Instagram Restaurant Following

1. Use appropriate hashtags.

This is key for potential new customers to find your restaurant. To determine the best hashtags to use, think of keywords that describe your photo. For instance, if you’ve photographed a burger, search “burger” in Instagram’s hashtag section and use those results as starting point. For instance: when I search #burger, it gives me #bestburgers, which gives me related hashtags such as #burgertime and #burgerlove. Instagram caps you off at 30 hashtags, so maximize the effectiveness of the hashtags you use by choosing ones which relate to your location or cuisine type. You can include hashtags in your caption, or post them separately as a comment below your caption (this is visually cleaner).

2. Interact with people.

It’s important to establish a relationship with your followers. I recommend responding to every comment you receive on your posts, and at the very least, “liking” the comment. Your customers will be incentivized to interact with you more, and that engagement increases the chance that your post stays closer the top of people’s feed, or makes the Popular Page of Instagram.

3. Post at strategic times.

Having a business account on Instagram makes it easy to see what time of day your customers are seeing and interacting with your posts. Make a note to post during those times, and set reminders for yourself.

4. Cover your special events and community interactions

Do you have an interesting event that you’re hosting? Do you donate food or coffee to a shelter or community event? Photograph it, or hire someone to cover the event for you and use that content to build trust with your community. Your restaurant’s Instagram is the perfect place to show how much you care about your community.

Take Instagram Marketing for your Restaurant up a notch

1. Run Instagram Ads.

Instagram makes it easy by allowing you to target locals and set up an ad straight from your phone. Pick an appetizing food image, brainstorm a simple and eye-catching caption with your staff, and get ready to advertise!

2. Use Movement

Video creates an entirely different type of engagement. If the first few segments are interesting, your audience will respond by interacting with the post longer than an image post.