Over one billion people use Instagram every month, and as a restaurant, you know this powerful social media platform is essential for attracting new customers and keeping your seats full.  Plus, 80% of all Instagram users follow businesses, making it an effective way to control how your brand is showcased and keep your restaurant top-of-mind to connect with consumers as well as industry talent. To help maximize your insta-success, Kellee Khalil, Partner at Engage Media Group and Founder/CEO of Loverly, covers the basics and offers up her expert tips. 

How should Instagram be incorporated with your total branding strategy? 
Instagram is a critical part of your brand and marketing strategy. It is the megaphone for your business and a way you can generate excitement and buzz around new initiatives. Instagram is often the FIRST place your customers will go to decide if they want to come in for a meal or where potential employees head to learn more about your company culture.

Pro-Tip: Leverage location tags for your restaurant and hashtags can dramatically increase your distribution on Instagram and attract new customers.


What should you focus on when setting up a profile for a restaurant/bar? 
First and foremost, make sure all of the profile handles on all of your social channels are the same. It is confusing for people to look up your restaurant when there are different names. Also, ensure that the messaging on all the profiles is clear and distinct. 

Pro-Tip:  Describe the type of cuisine, hours of operation, locations, reservation options, and contact info. 

Should your Instagram account be set up as a business account? 
Absolutely! With a business account, you can unlock many features, such as setting up a phone number and getting access to insights and analytics. This data is essential for understanding what type of content will perform the best.

What makes good content?
Good content is engaging, uses multiple formats (carousels, videos, live stream, boomerangs, etc.), is brand consistent, and leverages the insights you find within your analytics data. Pay attention to what your competitors post and also what is happening in the industry. Knowing what is happening around you will help guide you on the types of content to post. 

Pro-Tip: When posting images of food, it is essential that the dishes look appealing! A beautiful plate of untouched food will perform better than a re-gram of a customers half eaten meal. When it comes to restaurants, having high-quality images of food is critical.

How do you attract new followers? 
To attract new followers, you have to give them things they want to see. Photos and videos of the innovative dishes you are creating, new menu items, or scenes from your local farm-to-table purveyor are all examples of engaging content. You don’t necessarily want to see the same dish posted over and over again.  

Pro-Tip: Your content also doesn’t always have to be about the food; posting images of a unique restaurant guest, chef profile, or a picture of the inspiration for a dish adds a personal touch! 

How often should a restaurant/bar post? 
It’s all about consistency! If you have the bandwidth posting multiple times every day is best, potential customers are expecting an active account. If that level of engagement isn’t feasible, stick to a consistent schedule (4-5 times a week). 

Pro-Tip: With Instagram’s algorithm, you’re only as good as your last post, so if you don’t have anything good to post, don’t post anything at all! It’s better to slow down posting rather than to lower your standards. Posting something that will not perform well can hurt your overall engagement. 

What are some best practices for Instagram? 
Pay close attention to your Insights and data as it will help drive your creative decisions.  Also, engage with your audience and stay active. Like and comment on images and accounts that are similar to yours. Follow other restaurants and chefs--be strategic about who you associate with on social media. 

Pro-Tip: Following random accounts to increase followers is not helpful, remember quality over quantity.

What are your go-to tips for creating good stories? 
Stories are an increasingly important part of Instagram and reposting a story where you’re tagged is a must. Make sure to utilize all of Instagram’s new features (polls, music, stickers, etc.) -- the key is to make it fun! 

Pro-Tip: Instagram stories are also a great place to utilize Regrams so that your feed stays consistent! For instance, if a Celebrity Chef or food blogger came to your restaurant and snapped a pic --regram it on your story and tag everyone involved.

How do you connect with influencers and larger accounts? 
Comment and show them love on their photos, but make sure that the influencers and larger accounts are in the same industry as you. If you’re commenting below a beauty influencer’s page - it will not make sense nor be on brand. 

Pro-Tip: Make sure that you are attracting the right people and accounts -- this makes you more discoverable and increases your chances of gaining quality followers.

What tools/platforms/apps do you recommend for managing your Instagram account and its posts?  
I love to use scheduling tools like Later or Planoly. These tools, can isolate specific variables to help you gain insights, such as: what time is the best time to post, what is the demographic of our followers, what types of posts do they like, what hashtags are getting the most engagement, etc.


About Kellee Khalil

Kellee Khalil is a serial entrepreneur, author, and founder of Loverly, the digital destination for modern couples planning their weddings. She has been profiled personally and professionally as the go-to on-air wedding and business expert in a myriad of global and national media outlets. She is the author of the best-selling book, Loverly Wedding Planner: The Modern Couple’s Guide to Simplified Wedding Planning. In 2018, Kellee launched Engage Media Group, a brand development agency and digital content studio with offices in New York and Los Angeles. She works with startups and Fortune 500 companies to produce head-turning content that inspires and converts.