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Updated 30th May at 18.14 CET

10 ways restaurants can use Instagram Stories

Rita Homem's photo

Rita Homem

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There are many ways to increase your restaurant’s online visibility. A popular one is using social media. 

In this blog post, we will explore how restaurants can use Instagram Stories to increase their online presence.  We are going to look into how the platform is a valuable tool for restaurant owners everywhere and 10 ways of leveraging the full potential of Instagram Stories.

Instagram story 📸: A fast, fun way for restaurateurs to share daily specials, peek behind-the-scenes 🍳, or hype events. Disappears in 24h, perfect for keeping your foodie community engaged and hungry for more!

Stay tuned and glance through our guide below.

Your restaurant lacks an Instagram account? No problem! Get some inspiration for your restaurant’s first Instagram post

Why Instagram?

Social media is here to stay and is, in general, a great way to reach, engage, and connect with your guests. Instagram is: 

  • The perfect platform to show off some eye-catching photos of your restaurant and of your yummy food
  • Fun to manage — you have a ton of options when it comes to editing and sharing photos, both as posts and as Instagram stories
  • Ideal for achieving the “fully booked” restaurant dream, as it provides a space to highlight your venue’s ambiance, menu, and special events, enticing customers to visit.

When managing a restaurant, the dream is not to worry about guests coming in. To achieve this, your customers need to know your venue even exists and what you offer.

food insta story

In 2024, Instagram reached over 2.4 billion monthly active users, projected to reach 2.5 billion by the end of the year. More than 500 million people use it everyday and all of them interact with Instagram stories.

What is also important for your restaurant? Studies show that:

  1. More than 60% of consumers turn to social media to discover new restaurants and see what they’re serving
  2. When picking a place to eat, a whopping 88% of people rely on online reviews and suggestions from their social media friends.
  3. Nearly half of Instagram users share food photos and follow their favorite restaurants.
  4. The hashtag #food is a social media powerhouse, ranking 25th most popular on Instagram with a staggering 380 million posts.

A study also estimated that 71 % of US businesses use Instagram. So, there is a good chance that your competitors are already using hashtags, making stories, and posting to broaden their audience. That’s why you should set up a business account as soon as possible. Don’t let your business run behind!

But, before we look into Instagram stories, let us take a quick look at Instagram as a whole. Stay tuned!

Before making any posts on Instagram

It’s important that you sit down and plan out a rough sketch for your restaurant’s Instagram. Think of some basic guidelines for your Instagram account. 

Do yourself and your business the favor of answering the following 3 questions:

  • What am I going to post?
  • How often am I going to post?
  • Do I want an informational or emotional approach, or a mix of both? (e.g., informing about the menu or making a post about Valentine’s Day)  

First tip: set your account to public to reach a broader audience. If your account is set to private, only your followers can see what you post.

Second tip: always be consistent, and don’t ever underestimate how influential a great Instagram account can be. 

Third tip: Make sure that your posts compliment each other. 

What exactly does that mean? Why is it important that your individual posts complement each other? 

When looking at VGN Boulevard’s Instagram (picture below), there is a clear alignment between all the posts. Not only do all the posts include pictures of jaw-dropping delicious food, but even the colors complement each other! So satisfying to look at. 

Aim for a good first impression. It ultimately determines if a user is going to follow your new account or not! Impress users with some cool photos to get people’s attention.

VGN boulevard instagram
https://www.instagram.com/vgnboulevard/

Using Instagram stories

Instagram stories enable you to show a photo on your profile for 24 hours! They are very popular, especially within the restaurant business. 

With stories, you can promote and advertise all the small ‘in-between’ things from your restaurant. You are able to post as many stories you want a day, and they will appear like a slideshow for your followers if they click on it. 

Don’t overdo it tho! Being “salesy” is really smart if done sparingly. There are also other ways of creating awareness. Below, we have listed 10 ways how restaurants can use Instagram stories.

10 ways to use Instagram stories

1. Behind-the-scenes

Every person is born curious and why not take advantage of that? Let your followers get an insight into your restaurant’s universe by showing some behind-the-scenes stories. 

It could be a picture of the place where you always pick up flowers for the tables in the restaurant. A picture of social events among the staff would also be great content.

Often, a simple story of your really yummy organic vegetables from the local farm is sufficient.

2. Daily updates

Another way to use Instagram stories is to create some small daily updates on what’s going on at the restaurant:

  • happy hour reminder
  • your venue in real time
  • the reservation’s system visual table planner
  • days off

For example, if your restaurant offers a deal on drinks at a specific time a day, a story on Instagram is a great reminder for followers. It’s also a fun way of boosting your customer’s loyalty to your restaurant. 

Often, videos are also an engaging way of giving daily updates. Show off your venue when it’s buzzing, fully booked and the service is running smoothly. 

Daily updates could also revolve around the capacity of bookings for the night, e.g. a picture of your booking system’s visual table planner can inform you about available tables. Or to show followers that you are fully booked for the night!

If you’re away on your restaurant’s day off, let the world know through an Instagram story. Since they last 24 hours, it suits an entire day perfectly. You can also schedule your Instagram stories with Meta Business Suite to make sure they go off at the right time too.

3. Competitions

Instagram stories are the perfect tool for setting up competitions for your followers. However, sometimes, if the competitions aren’t planned out well enough, it can end rather catastrophic. 

Decide the objective of the competition, who will be in charge, the entry method, the prize, before announcing anything on your Instagram story. 

Alternatively, you could set up a lottery within a certain time frame. 

4. Reposting user-generated content

When customers check your hashtag or you notice that your place is being mentioned online, repost the picture. That’s UGC (user-generated content) and it’s so valuable for your restaurant. 

As you probably already know, word-of-mouth marketing (WOM) is highly popular when it comes to restaurants. The online version of WOM is a repost! 

When customers post a picture of your food, venue, or anything related to your place – it’s a compliment. We recommend asking in a direct message, if it is okay to repost his/her story on your own. 

  • How can people find you? 👉 Use hashtags. 
  • How can people tag you? 👉 Choose a simple username for your restaurant. 

A hashtag maximizes your chances of being found on Instagram, which in turn might encourage guests to book a table. A simple username makes it easy for customers to tag you.

5. Special offers & discounts 

As mentioned, “salesy” can spice your stories up. 

There is nothing wrong with making posts that include some kind of special offers or discounts. Avoid only posting about discounts. In the short-term, it annoys your followers. In the long run, it makes your followers unfollow you.

6. Thank you messages

Thanking your followers for milestones, compliments and constructive criticism goes a long way. They’ll feel cherished and like their voice is heard. A simple sticker with the phrase “Thank you!” is more than enough, but a reel of you talking to them directly is also a good option.

7. New posts

The Instagram algorithm works in mysterious ways and your most recent post might never show up on your followers’ feed. Since stories are placed at the top of the user’s interface, you’ll have higher chances of being seen.

8. Polls and quizzes

Users love polls and quizzes. With an engagement rate of 20%, you just have to try them! Some ideas to spark your imagination:

Food preference polls

  • What are you having tonight: pizza or pasta?
  • Team burger or team sandwich?
  • Sweet or savory?

Guessing quiz

  • Post a close-up image of a dish and ask followers to guess the main ingredient.
  • What’s the secret ingredient in our sauce?
  • What spice gives our curry its distinctive flavor?

Menu favorites poll

  • Which dish from our menu is your ultimate favorite?
  • Vote for the dish you want us to feature as the special next week!

Restaurant experience quiz

  • Have you tried one of our weekly specials? Yes or No
  • How often do you visit our restaurant? Regularly, Occasionally, Never been, but dying to try!

Food pairing polls

  • Pineapple on pizza: Yes or No?
  • Wasabi or soy sauce?

Behind-the-scenes quiz

  • Guess which ingredient we use the most in our kitchen
  • Guess our chef’s favorite dish to cook

Seasonal favorites poll

  • What’s your favorite fall flavor: pumpkin spice or apple cinnamon?
  • Which seasonal dish are you most excited to see on our menu?

9. Answer followers’ questions

Instagram Stories are a great way to connect with your followers. Add a Question Sticker to your story and wait for your customers to respond. After 24 hours, use some of their replies to engage with them and satisfy their curiosity.

You can also use this feature to ask for direct feedback. Just make sure you can stomach it, as it’s the internet and we all know how it can be.

10. Add yours prompt

Start a stream of Instagram Stories with the Add Yours prompt. Simply post a reel or a story doing something in your restaurant and ask your followers to add their own reels or stories. This can be a simple fried egg, a dish or just something silly. Be creative and have fun with it!

Summing up!

We promise that these 10 simple ways of how restaurants can use Instagram stories are going to get you off to a good start! 

But as every restaurant is different and has a different customer journey, you are the only one who knows if you benefit from it. Try it out, have fun, and ask all your colleagues for feedback.

If you feel unsure about making Instagram stories, but want to continue to post regular posts on Instagram, don’t worry. If you need inspiration, check out our ‘