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Marketing on Instagram, especially for businesses that can be driven by pretty photos, has become a huge way to gain exposure for your brand. One of the most popular things that Instagram users post photos of their food. You may not even realize it, but you're getting free advertising every time someone checks in at your restaurant or mentions their meal in a photo. The first step into the world of Instagram marketing has already been taken for you; now it's your turn to begin to grow your reach beyond posting photos of food.

Getting Started

The best way to do this is to set up an account for your restaurant. Make the handle visible, post it in your restaurant on a sign or maybe in the menu. People will be more than likely to start tagging you in their photos, especially if you encourage it and interact with them when they do!

Come up with a unique hashtag for people to use as well so you can see the pool of photos your followers and fans post about your restaurant. If you plan to repost their images, just make sure you give credit to the original account to avoid upsetting them.

When filling out your bio, don't forget to include a link to the web page of your restaurant, or the yelp page if you haven't created one yet. Mention the kind of food you serve, and throw in your location, too. Another useful way to start gaining local business is to geotag your posts. That way, if someone searches your area around dinner time, they'll see your restaurant on their feed!

Beginning to Post

The posts you create for your Instagram should be focused on your restaurant, but that doesn't mean everything has to be just snapshots of your food. Include images of your employees, a food stall that your brand has at festivals and fairs, and your customers if they're alright with being featured! Fun videos, stories and interactive posts is a great way to engage with your customers, too.

Take the time to edit your images before posting to fix any lighting errors and make sure they look beautiful. High-quality images get the best reaction when it comes to likes and comments. Play with filters or download an editing app.

Go The Extra Mile

If you really want to make your restaurant stand out on Instagram, offer contests and giveaways! Free meal coupons or discounts make great prizes. Ask your customers to share pictures of themselves and their food at your restaurant using a special tag and choose one randomly.

For example, once you’ve created a new post for your contest or competition, it might be worth buying some real Instagram likes to the post for that added layer of trust. Additionally, a photo that receives a high number of Instagram likes in a short space of time can reach the explore feed, which means your contest will now be seen by hundreds and potentially even thousands of more users.

Make sure you're keeping your posts friendly and interactive, and go to Instagram for announcing new menu additions or seasonal items first. Offer your followers questions to answer like what their favorite flavor of pie you offer is, or which specialty summer drink they are most excited for.

There really is no written-in-stone way to advertise your restaurant on Instagram, so find what works best for you and your brand and run with it!