This article originally appeared on 60 Second Social.

So you you are in the restaurant business and you are starting to look at social media as a way to explore new channels and as an opportunity to create more interest in your business and drive new customers. One of the big social media channels restaurants should be taking advantage of? Instagram.

Instagram is one of those platforms that can be somewhat unique, it doesn’t fit the mould for every kind of company out there. When it comes to restaurants, it is a must have. Amateur food photography is sparking controversy these days (people either love the idea of it and others hate it), some people go to the lengths of standing up on their chair in a restaurant to snap a perfect arial shot of their meal before eating it (yes I have seen this happen more than once now – it does seem to be a ‘thing’).

Instagram can be a powerful tool when handled correctly, Instagram and “food porn” can be a restaurants best friend! Here are some do’s and don’ts along with some great examples of how you can use Instagram to bolster your restaurants profile on the social media scene.

Do:

  • Take good quality photos – Nothing is worse than a quick snap that is blurred and looks shoddy. Especially when you are putting it up on a business account. Instagram has tons of editing tools and options to help you refine your photos. Explore them, have a look at how you can edit photos and explore different filters before putting a photo live. It has to look appealing in a way that people will want to come in and eat from your establishment.
  • Post at least once per day – Don’t overload your feed with a constant stream of photos. Post frequently and in moderation, make use of Instagram’s ‘Layout’ app to make some great looking collages
  • Shoot red objects! – Analytics shows that red and orange predominantly get more engagement than blue photos on Instagram, the red stands out more and catches the attention of users. Pizza, curry, ketchup…whatever it is, if you can keep it more to the side of red you may get better engagement.
  • Shoot from multiple angles – You want to keep it predominantly from above, the arial shot is the best way to go on Instagram when it comes to food. However, mix it up a bit, don’t be afraid to shoot low angles and shoot plates from the side. Combine low angle shots and arial shots together in the Layout app to share multiple shots in the one post.
  • Use Ludwig and Amaro filters – There is a huge range of filters to choose from, mix it up and try out as many as possible for different effects. Ludwig and Amaro filters get the most likes and comments on Instagram according to analytics. Use different ones to make your photo stand out in the best way possible but keep in mind how powerful these two filters are at the same time.

Don’t:

  • Use a white background – People engage better with ‘lifestyle shots’ as opposed to the product shots with a white background. Keep as much life in the entire photo as you possibly can and have an interesting background that will appeal to people but not take away from the shot itself.
  • Keep using the same filter – You need to utilise multiple filters to keep followers interested, filters will produce a range of effects so it is important to explore all of them. If you keep using the same filter over and over again then your feed will becoming boring and followers may slip away.
  • Use hashtags that are not relevant – Hashtags are great on Instagram, the more of them you use the better as it will help people see and discover your photo. However this can lead to a problem of going overboard and adding a lot of hashtags. Feel free to add as many as you like but keep them relevant to your content.
  • Post Instagram links on Twitter – I can’t stand this, while you can link your Instagram to share your photo on Twitter it will only share the link and not embed the photo on the Twitter timeline. Thankfully there is a solution, you can use an IFTTT recipe which will automatically embed the photo in your Twitter feed when you post it on Instagram. Alternatively, when you post on Instagram the photo is saved in your camera roll. Don’t use the share to Twitter option in the Instagram app, instead simply upload the Instagram shot to Twitter from the camera roll.

Some examples of businesses that nailed Instagram on the head:

With these tips in mind, lets have a look at some businesses that nailed Instagram when it comes to using photo sharing to try bolster your customer base and attract new customers.

  1. Coyoacan Auténtica Comida MexicanaIts a bit of a mouthful (the restaurant name that is, not the delicious looking food) however this is a Mexican restaurant in Spain which invited customers to take any kind of photo they wanted within the walls of the building. Food, interior, bathroom, family enjoying the meal, whatever you wanted and tag it with #restaurantecoyoacanpalma. This would allow customers to be eligible to win free appetisers or a dinner for two.
  2. Brent’s DeliBrent’s Deli is an establishment in LA which set out to produce a crowdsourced picture menu on Instagram using the hashtag #BrentsMenu. Customers took photos of dishes they ordered and uploaded them to Instagram. It is a unique approach to using Instagram and creates a fun and memorable link to the brand. Plus if you are going there you can check out Instagram and see what the dishes look like before ordering yourself!
  3. California Pizza KitchenCalifornia Pizza Kitchen is a refreshing approach by a restaurant on Instagram, they feature backstage passes to life in the restaurant business with photos from the kitchen and they also post exclusive photos of new dishes yet to go on the menu. They run promotions on holiday seasons and feature photos from users who post with their featured hashtag at the time. It builds up a sense of community and enhances the brand far beyond the ordinary photos of dishes of menu items. (Probably one of my favourite Instagram restaurant accounts)

Closer to home, restaurants in Ireland seem to be glossing over the value of Instagram as a social media platform. I have been searching high and low and can’t seem to find any real big stand outs on the scene. That being said, if you run a restaurant in Ireland and are thinking, “what the hell? Our Instagram account is great!” then please let us know because there is a chance we simply missed you and if your restaurant has a great Instagram account in Ireland then we want to cover it!

However, while the restaurants are not standing out to me, shoutout to some of my favourite Irish foodies on the scene at the moment, there are plenty great Irish food accounts on Instagram and here are my top three Irish foodie accounts that I love seeing.

3. Irish Food Porn

An Irish girl with a passion for making and seeing people enjoy her food. Believe me, it looks delicious, all of it!

2. Lilly Higgins

Lilly is a food writer for the Irish times, she regularly uploads fantastic photos of food she is trying out or writing about. Again the hunger pains strike me!

Amazing @cloudmallows at #litfest15 #ballymaloe ??? #marshmallows

A photo posted by Lilly Higgins (@lilly_higgins_) on

1.  Donal Skehan

Finally we have Donal who is a cook, food writer & photographer, TV presented and food blogger. His photos speak for themselves.

Today's #Recipeoftheday is brought you by eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes and mushrooms, oh and the letter F…

A photo posted by Donal Skehan (@donalskehan) on

Instagram and food is clearly becoming a fast rising trend on social media. If you are a restaurant and are thinking of using Instagram for your business, now is the time to give it a go.


About The Author

Mark is the founder of 60 Second Social media where he provides social media news and digital marketing analysis. He has an Advanced Diploma in Psychology and a Diploma in Digital Marketing And Social Media. You can follow him on Twitter here. You can also follow 60 Second Social on Twitter here. Or you can drop Mark an email at, [email protected]