Instagram is widely known for creative photographers making our feeds a beautiful, never-ending gallery of landscapes, food photos, clothing, and puppies. If we look deeper into what value Instagram provides, we can find out that if we break down professions we will see that it helps every type of business in a different way.
Recently, with restaurants taking a heavy blow from COVID-19, a whole new wave of online content has appeared from creative culinary folks who are out of work, but have plenty of time on their hands to create and explore.
As part of 7shifts’ COVID-19 Resources for Restaurants initiative, we wanted to provide a few tips for chefs and cooks on how to effectively use Instagram to create and deliver high-quality content for those who are hungry for it—including cooking lessons, new cooking ideas, and food purchases directly through Instagram.
Let’s get started 🐶
Created a killer content is, unfortunately, is not enough to get your post in front of users, even if those users belong to the highly interested audience group. Here hashtags come into help. Take your time researching hashtags that are relevant to your profile, the particular post, and any other topic that can reach users that are potentially interested in the post you created.
Cover the basics
There are so many food-related hashtags on Instagram you can use to really boost the reach of your latest culinary creations. Whatever you post, make sure you cover the basics to reach your hungry audience with hashtags such as:
#homemadefood | #homemade | #foodstagram | #foodphotography | #homecooking | #chefmode | #cook or #chef | #cooking | #foodporn | #foodie | #instafood
Beyond the basics, you’ll want to customize your hashtags to whatever you’re posting.
For example, if you made spaghetti and meatballs dish, and included the recipe in your description or post, you should include a few hashtags that will attract the attention of pasta lovers.
Here are some examples of how you can reach different audiences with relevant hashtags:
#noodleworship | #spagettiandmeatballs | #pastalover | #pastamaking | #dinner | #dinnerideas | #dinnerrecipes
By combining the basics and the unique, you could end up with a post like this:
Take the time to find the hashtags that work for you—there are thousands of hashtags that will help your post reach hundreds of interested foodies.
2. Get your formatting down
There are four main formats you can use to create content on Instagram: stories, single-image posts, sliders, and videos.
Videos are likely the best kind of content to provide on your Instagram, so we highly recommend putting the effort in to create high-quality video content. Especially if you’re offering cooking lessons or demonstrating how to make recipes you provide. Videos get more attention than images as they’re more engaging to your hungry audience.
If you are hesitant about a particular cooking lesson or a recipe, you can always create a slider version of the content to test if your followers are interested before dedicating the time to create a video. If they comment a lot, ask questions, and ask for more information, you can take it further and work on the video version.
Another effective way of promoting your main content is to create stories linking to your post. The video you created may not stay on the followers’ feeds for a long time and taking advantage of the high view-through rate of Instagram stories can be very effective to bring followers back to the post. Plus, if you add a hashtag to the story like #homecooking or #chefmode, your story will be added to the story of that particular hashtag, and may reach a new audience.
Heres a great example 👇
3. Don't ignore the text content
Although it’s possible to include all of your information in the visuals of the post, it’s always a good idea to have the content description and recipe details in the caption. Firstly, it provides a good user experience to your followers, and secondly, it optimizes the post for search (which means Google, Instagram’s internal search and other search engines can link to your post).
Plus, we’ve found that photo-first content performs better on Instagram, so keeping the amount of text in your images low is a good practice.
A well-written caption can also help to use your storytelling skills and show your passion for food and cooking.
Nothing makes the tasty food even tastier than a good story behind the recipe, your unique cooking method, and the origins of the food. Practicing and applying storytelling will help make your content even more compelling—and help you stand out from the sea of chefs on Insta.
This is sometimes even more important than the content itself.
While browsing social media, we always come across creators who may not have the best photos, but always make sure to share a mindblowing story about their content. Usually, these kinds of accounts do not have a shortage of followers.
To get some good inspiration, look into Jose Andres’ (@chefjoseandres) account. Jose not only shares unlimited positive energy and tasty cooking recipes but also uses the caption area to tell a story that is worth looking into.
Make sure you include a relevant call to action in every post you make. If you are selling the food you made independently, or through the restaurant pickup/delivery, mention it in the caption and let everyone know how they can buy it. Here is an inspirational story of a chef who created a huge client base through his account and sells food through Instagram.
4. Master your posting cadence
Post consistency and frequency is a big factor in your reach and success on Instagram. Being consistent helps not only with the engagement, but also with your social media content creation schedule. It can also keep you motivated as you will know that hundreds of followers are waiting for your Friday dinner recipe.
Consistency is key to making your account interesting. Followers like to be informed about upcoming posts. After having successfully used a consistent schedule for some time, you can include a little teaser or information beforehand to help the followers to prepare for the recipe. They may need the same ingredients to cook at the same time they consume your new content.
Frequency is important to keep the audience warm and engaged. If the account is too passive, people will forget about the account and they won’t look forward to the content the account creates. Having busy feeds each of us can direct their attention to the limited information on social media. This makes the competition quite difficult.
Here is an example of an active Instagram account that posts good content and keeps a high frequency—@jennifer.e.crawford. Jennifer is a MasterChef Canada. They are a very creative chef with strong storytelling skills and consistency and their Instagram account is just a piece of inspiration.
5. Switch to a creator profile
The creator profile on Instagram unlocks various new features that are not available for the personal account. Some of the most important features are insights and ads.
Communicating with bigger than normal audiences you will need to analyze their behaviour and preference to be able to optimize your content for the right kind of demand. Instagram for Creators gives you the tools to look into such data.
Also, if you created a video which did really well compared to all other content pieces, you may want to boost it with some budget to reach a bigger audience, beyond your follower base. This feature is also available if you switch to a creator account.
Here is how you can convert to a creator account:
Nothing makes followers happier than seeing a response to their comments from someone they follow and admire. Keeping the comment area active signals the cooking enthusiasts that there is a passionate two-way communication and any questions and suggestions will be welcome. Unfortunately, not all creators and influencers are active when it comes to comments. However, this creates the opportunity for the ones who are willing to put a little bit more effort into follower relationships.
You can use call-to-action in the video or the caption encouraging everyone to leave feedback on the recent meal recipe, ask questions about equipment or ingredients, and suggest recipes for the future.
7. Improve the quality of photos and videos
You don’t need to be a professional photographer or a videographer to create inspiring high-quality content on Instagram. All you need to do is to watch a couple of video tutorials on lighting, food photography, video setup and filters.
It requires a little bit of extra time and effort, but it makes a huge difference in engagement rates. Instagram is all about the aesthetics and visual storytelling. If the visuals are not good it will be difficult to compete in the explore and feed areas of the app.
For inspiration, follow Rob Gentile (@rob_gentile), a very creative chef with an outstanding talent for presenting the amazing food he makes.
8. Go live
If you are comfortable with your setup, going live is a great way to attract a big audience. Another advantage of going live is that you can publish the video and keep it as an IGTV video that can be accessed anytime your followers want.
When you go live your followers receive notifications and can immediately join the cooking class. It is also worth mentioning that live videos gives you the unique opportunity to answer all the questions real time and make the content even more useful and exciting.
What you need to consider before going live?
- Choose a good looking but less busy background
- Test the sound quality
- Make sure there is enough light in the kitchen. Natural light is the best, so consider being next to the window if possible
- Keep extra battery on the phone and keep it charged
- Promote the upcoming live video beforehand
If you are having technical or time difficulties to follow any of the recommendations don’t get discouraged. Mastering social media is something that comes with experience. The key is to be active and put the amazing recipes and content you create frequently and keep the interaction going with the followers and clients. If you need more marketing tips, checkout our post How to Market & Talk to Your Customers During COVID-19.
Also, consider following other chefs on social media to learn from others’ experience. That is the best way to stay sharp and improve your social media performance.
Follow 7shifts on Instagram for more tips!
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Hello! I am Vahag, Content Marketing Manager at 7shifts. I am writing about content marketing, marketing trends, tips on restaurant marketing and more.