5 Tips on How to Use Instagram for Restaurants

Chris Rumpf

Founder and CEO, 15+ Years of Restaurant Technology Innovation

5 Tips on How to Use Instagram for Restaurants

Author and business executive Seth Godin said, “People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.” No social media platform embodies this concept better than Instagram, which has effectively cornered the market for people’s desire to see and share the places they go and the products they consume.

With such a powerful tool on hand, restaurants are better positioned than ever to take advantage of social media to market their unique brand and products.

So what best practices can you implement in order to leverage Instagram for your restaurant’s marketing? The key is to tell your story—both through the people you interact with and the products you sell.

Here are five actions you can take right now to get a jump start on Instagram marketing for your restaurant.

1. Instagram Marketing 101: Visual Storytelling

Instagram’s popularity proves that images and videos work. This provides a unique opportunity to capture your restaurant’s signatures—the food, the drinks, the atmosphere and style, the character—and transform them into a visual story that inspires customers to follow you and share your story. Your visual content should be:

  • Compelling: Utilize in-the-moment stories to keep your audience engaged.
  • Creative: Customize your stories with text and polls.
  • Authentic: Share goals and objectives. Allow your personality to show through.

2. Make Your Restaurant Identifiable on Instagram

What does your brand look like? Identify the feeling, atmosphere, and emotion of your restaurant and communicate that through images and video. Customers begin to recognize your brand through images that are:

  • Visually appealing: Use editing apps like VSCO, TouchRetouch, and Wave.video to create beautiful content.
  • Eye-catching: Capture the essence of your favorite menu items with clarity and close-ups.
  • Memorable: Incorporate behind-the-scenes content, such as food preparation, customer testimonials, and live events.

3. Be a Destination On and Off the Web

More and more people are using Instagram to interact with a destination or brand, similar to Yelp. You can take advantage of this trend by actively positioning your brand and designing customer interactions.

  • First impressions: Is your website mobile friendly, is there a current online menu, what are people saying about your restaurant, and does the food look any good? People start building impressions before they even walk in your door, so make sure you’re sending the right message.
  • Consistency: Post often and regularly to ensure your content is current and relevant to would-be customers.
  • Community: Engage with your community through posts and stories, and call out other local spots that you love.

4. Tell Your Brand and Product Story

Who you are and what you represent is as important as what you sell, so make sure your story includes both.

  • Whereas well as what: Use the people and places around you to promote your location, your staff, and your community, as well as your products.
  • Have a plan: Curate your brand by having an overarching plan that ties it all together.
  • Be spontaneous: Break up curated content with unscripted and quirky images your audience will love. Have fun and don’t be too picky about every post.

5. Find Your Influencers

Getting others to talk about your brand is still one of the most effective ways to build brand awareness. Your customers are your best resource, and if you’re telling a compelling and authentic story, they’re going to want to share it.

  • Word-of-mouth: Identify people in your community speaking on your behalf—get them in your stories and on your feed.
  • Build relationships: Engage with followers and comments, ideally within the first hour. Let them know you’re paying attention and appreciate their engagement.
  • Give permission: Encourage the sharing of content and brand hashtags, as well as social sharing of your dishes and drinks.


As with any marketing tool, it’s important to do your research, be consistent, and always revisit your social media plan to make sure you’re getting the most out of time and resources spent. But if you get started now with these five tips, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of Instagram marketing for restaurants.