There are many ways to increase your restaurant's online visibility. One of those ways is using the popular social media; Instagram, which we will dive into in this blog post. More specifically, Instagram stories. We are going to look into how, and if the platform is a valuable tool for restaurant owners around the world. Then, 5 ways of using Instagram stories are introduced to get you off to the best possible start! Are you thinking about setting up an Instagram account for your restaurant? Then stay tuned and glance through our ‘How restaurants can use Instagram stories’ guide below.

example of how restaurants can use Instagram stories and how to add a story
Picture from Unsplash.com

Why Instagram?

Social media is here to stay and is, in general, a great way to reach, engage, and connect with your guests. In case you didn't know - Instagram is the perfect platform to show off some eye-catching photos of your restaurant and of your food!

Besides that, the photo-taking and photo-sharing app is fun to manage. You have a ton of options when it comes to editing/sharing photos and Instagram stories with your followers. Many think that having an Instagram account is for private people only. But actually, companies are getting more and more present on the platform. When managing a restaurant, the main goal is always to be fully booked. In order to be fully booked, guests need to know about your venue and what you offer.

Picture from unsplash.com

In June 2018, Instagram reached over one Billion monthly active users. A study also estimated that 71 % of US businesses use Instagram. This means that there is a good chance that your biggest competitor is already using hashtags, making stories, and posting to broaden their audience. That’s why we urge you to set up a business account as soon as possible!

Before we look into Instagram stories, let us have a quick look at Instagram as a platform as we have some small advice for you! #Staytuned

Before making any posts on Instagram

We have one recommendation in regards to how restaurants can use Instagram stories. First of all, always be consistent, and don’t ever underestimate how influential a great Instagram account can be! It is extremely 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 combination? (e.g. informing about the menu or making a post about Valentines' Day)  

First of all, when making posts on Instagram, make sure that your account is public to reach a broader audience. Another consideration to make is to make sure that your posts compliments each other. But what exactly does that mean, and 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. It is important that the account makes a good first impression. A first impression 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.

Example of an Instagram account
Screenshot from VGN Boulevard's Instagram

Using Instagram stories

Instagram stories enable you to show a photo on your profile for 24 hours! Especially within the restaurant business, Instagram stories are very popular. 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 sometimes really smart, but there are also other ways of creating awareness about your restaurant. Below, we have listed 5 ways how restaurants can use Instagram stories.

5 ways to use Instagram stories

a list view showing 5 ways restaurants can 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. This could e.g 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. But 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. E.g if your restaurant offers a deal on drinks at a specific time a day, a story on Instagram is a great reminder for followers. Often, videos are also a smart 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!

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. Be sure to decide on matters, such as the objective of the competition, who will be in charge, the entry method, the prize, etc before announcing anything on your Instagram story. Alternatively, you could set up a lottery within a certain time frame. 

4. Reposting

When customers check in with your hashtag or you notice that your place is being mentioned online - repost the picture. This is sooo valuable for your restaurant. As you probably already know, WOM or Word-of-mouth marketing is highly popular when it comes to restaurants. In our opinion, the online version of WOM is a repost. When customers post a picture of your food, venue, or anything related to your place - it is a compliment. Again, make sure to repost it. We always recommend asking in a direct message, if it is okay to repost his/her story on your own. It can’t be mentioned too many times that you need a hashtag for your restaurant. A hashtag maximizes your chances of being found on Instagram, which in turn might encourage guests to book a table! 

5. Special offers & discounts 

As mentioned, "salesy" can be good in the right amount. There is nothing wrong with making posts that include some kind of special offers or discounts. Avoid only posting about discounts, as this, in the long run, makes your followers unfollow you.

Summing up!

We promise that these 5 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 directory, you are the only one who knows if you benefit from it. Try it out, have fun with it, and ask all your colleagues for feedback the first couple of weeks.

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 'How to promote your restaurant on Instagram' guide. The guide gives some great and simple tips on how to get your guest’s attention as well as being ‘Insta-worthy'.

restaurant booking system - resOS
Picture from resOS.com

Too busy to manage SoMe? Try resOS

We understand that being active on social media requires a lot of time. Therefore, we have created a flexible and intuitive system to simplify your restaurant management - and you will save a lot of time!

Integrate a booking link to your Instagram account and make it possible for guests to book a table at your restaurant, right away. Are you interested in trying out resOS? Then do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]