Last spring, Facebook purchased a little photo sharing application called Instagram for the impressive sum of one billion dollars. Why did they spend so much? Because more and more smartphone users are choosing to share their experiences via photo-sharing apps. For example, taking Instagram pictures of meals has become a huge part of the restaurant experience for many millennials. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. What will pictures of your restaurant say?
Instagram is an online photo, video, and social networking service. Consumers use it to post media they’ve created with their smartphone cameras and edited with special digital filters. Like Twitter, Instagram is a great way for friends to share information, such as recent meals, in a concise and easy-to-digest manner. What does that mean for your restaurant? Imagine running a promotion where you give a discount to anyone that “Instagrams” a shot of one of the new desserts on your menu. A potential guest could be flooded with appetizing pictures of creams, cakes, and pies, all singing the praises of your menu. It’s the best marketing money can’t buy – personalized recommendations from the friends your guests trust.
In short, consumers have taken to Instagram in droves. How can you as a restaurant marketer leverage this consumer activity? One of Fishbowl’s SM3 Social Media and Email Specialists, Casey Manning, has come up with the following pieces of advice for newbies:
1. Discover Your Audience. Search Instagram regularly to see if your restaurant has been mentioned. You’ll see what appeals to your guests quickly – after all, they wouldn’t want to share unless they have something to say!
2. Promote the Positive. When you find someone posting a picture of your restaurant with a positive comment, it’s always a good idea to share those good feelings on your social media. Link the post on your Facebook or Twitter. Potential guests love to see a spontaneous display of enthusiasm. Take advantage of the free marketing!
3. Encourage with Contests and Prizes. Use Instagram for brand promotion by creating contests and rewards. Consider Instagram the digital, visual cousin of the essay contest – offer a free meal or a discount to the one person who can capture the “essence” of your restaurant in an Instagram picture. Come up with scavenger hunts that encourage guests to explore your restaurant and your menu. The possibilities are endless – and you can use the resulting pictures to promote yourself!