Instagram For Restaurants: How To Dominate A Competitive Niche

Instagram For Restaurants: How To Dominate A Competitive Niche
Rafaella Aguiar

By Rafaella Aguiar

Instagram is an important part of any business’s marketing strategy in 2021, but you might be wondering how the social media platform can make an impact on your restaurant. In today’s world, people are constantly Instagramming their food before they eat it, especially if it looks pretty. There are bloggers who are updating their followers about their lives, everyday people trying to imitate the bloggers and food lovers who just want to share.

Some people are even turning to platforms like Instagram to find new restaurants. They might be checking out recommendations from people they follow and trust, but they’re probably going to check out the restaurant’s page before they actually go. That’s why Instagram for restaurants is such an important tool to have in your marketing plan. Here are seven ways you can improve your presence on the app and dominate a competitive niche.

Take Advantage Of Video Marketing

Video is all the rage right now, and Instagram offers five ways to add video to the app: feed posts, Stories, IGTV, Instagram Live and Reels. No matter which way feels most comfortable to you, by adding video marketing to your Instagram strategy, you’ll be creating great content that people are eager to consume. If you don’t know what you’d video, here are a few great ideas to get you started.

Go behind the scenes in your kitchen. People love to see any kind of behind-the-scenes action. It makes them feel like they’re special, since they know the secrets. Film a few Instagram Stories in the kitchen, showcasing your specials of the day, and then encourage people to make a reservation for that evening. Or, do an Instagram Live where you can answer questions about your restaurant with the bustle of the kitchen behind you.

Cooking tutorials are incredibly popular on social media right now, so consider filming a few of those. Make sure you test to see what’s resonating with your audience and what they really like to see. Finally, you can also create videos that showcase your staff. People love seeing other people, so by introducing your team, you can create a real connection with Instagram users.

@eitan instagram post about quesadillas

Decor Is Everything

When people choose where they want to eat, the atmosphere is a huge factor. You can have the best food in the world, but if the atmosphere isn’t great, you’re probably not going to pull in new clients through social media. If someone eats at a restaurant with fun decor, you had better believe they will post it to Instagram. People won’t go out of their way to promote your restaurant, so it’s up to you to make it easy for them.

Make sure the decor of your restaurant is unique and stands out from the crowd. If you do, that will be reason enough for people to visit! You might even bring in new customers who don’t care as much about the food because they just want to see your unique atmosphere. Morning Glory, shown here, has a very unique look that makes people want to post about it.

Instagram post from @pancakelordssd

Use An Instagram Growth Service

This is probably the easiest way to grow your following, because it doesn’t take much work on your end. The beauty of Instagram is that there are many different tools and platforms that exist to help you automate tasks that take a long time so you can optimize your impact. By outsourcing your follower growth, you can still generate real, organic followers who want to see your content without spending hours a day engaging with people on Instagram.

An Instagram growth service like Kicksta can help you find real followers, so you won’t have to worry about bots, fake followers or wasting your time finding real followers. The advanced program finds the best followers for your account based on target profiles you give them. They’ll then like a few posts from the people you want to have following you, and those people will make the decision to follow you or not.

This can be helpful for restaurants looking to grow on Instagram in a number of ways. First of all, you can provide specific targets so they’re getting your restaurant’s name in front of the right people. You’ll provide them with a few profiles whose followers you’d like to have following you. So, try finding profiles of food bloggers in your area, other businesses or restaurants in your area, or even bloggers who talk about traveling for food, as they may have a wide-reaching audience.

Stats about a food bloggers' Instagram account

Have A Photo Spot

Speaking of making it easy for customers to take pictures and promote your restaurant, you can really go the extra mile and suggest that they do so by having a spot at your restaurant that’s especially meant for photos. This will encourage your customers to want to take a picture and share it on Instagram.

You could add a glowing sign or create a “photo booth” type area, especially if you have some outdoor space. Better yet, have your restaurant’s name shown in a decorative way. This way people will not only want to share their location by taking a picture, but your business name will already be on display. Another popular aesthetic on Instagram right now is a large quote wall that shows a statement. It doesn’t have to be anything overly meaningful, but it should look attractive.

Instagram post from @communalcoffee

Get Creative With Your Presentation

If decor isn't your strong suit or you don't have room for a wall specifically made for photos, that’s okay. After all, most people do come to a restaurant for the food. If that’s where you’d rather focus, go for it. You can just as easily encourage an Instagram post with your presentation.

Use plates that stand out, or create a crazy-looking drink that’s just begging to be posted to social media. Remember, for many people what they post online is somewhat of a status symbol. They want to share the really cool, impressive-looking things they’ve done or experienced with their friends and followers.

Instagram post from @beechwooddoughnuts

Creating unique presentations and beautiful dishes is not only great content for Instagram for your restaurant, but it will also encourage your customers to share their food or drink on the platform for you. Chances are they’ll tag your restaurant in your post, and their followers will be dying to try what they had.

Create A Branded Hashtag For Your Restaurant

Believe it or not, branded hashtags can be great for your restaurant in multiple ways. First of all, they encourage your patrons to post on social media for your restaurant. This kind of social proof and word-of-mouth marketing is the best you could ask for it seems. But, it also gives you the chance to generate user-generated content (UGC) that you could re-post later with permission from the customer.

Create a hashtag and post it in various locations around the restaurant. This will remind your customers to post and add the hashtag when they do. You could add it to your menu, incorporate it into the decor, or add it to the wall of your photo spot. Put it anywhere customers might see it and be compelled to post. Better Buzz, a coffee shop in San Diego, uses #lifesbetterbuzzed, and they have a glowing neon sign to remind people of their slogan.

Instagram post from @betterbuzz

Once your audience creates posts on your behalf, you can reach out to them and ask if you can share it to your restaurant’s page. This helps your audience feel more confident in your marketing, since someone else created this post talking about how great you are. And, it also helps save you time on content creation, since your audience is doing that for you.

Think Outside The Box

It’s obvious to create beautiful dishes and a designated photo spot, but think about other ways you can get creative and inspire people to share photos of your restaurant. You could decorate your storefront seasonally and make a big production out of it so people are excited to see what it looks like for the next season. Or put a new daily quote on a chalkboard that people look forward to reading.

Instagram post from @breakfastrepublic

Additionally, you can think of the bathrooms. Yes, it sounds weird, but if you can get people to want to post a bathroom to Instagram, you’re winning the game. Sketch, located in London, has such a unique bathroom that they posted about it to Instagram and got nearly 3,000 likes for it. That’s certainly impressive!

Instagram post from @sketchlondon

Dominating Instagram For Restaurants

There are many restaurants on Instagram, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming trying to compete with them. So don’t focus on the others that are there, and instead work to make your restaurant as Instagrammable as possible. Create beautiful dishes, design a photo spot and make your customers truly want to mention your restaurant on their Instagram pages.

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Rafaella Aguiar
Rafaella Aguiar

Rafaella Aguiar is the Marketing Manager at Kicksta. She specializes in content marketing. You can find more daily marketing tips from her at