Instagram Marketing for the Food and Beverage Industry

by Ruben Licera September 21, 2017
Instagram Marketing

Since its launch in 2010 – more than 700 million users around the globe have already signed up, more than 16 billion photos have been shared, and an average of 55 million of photos uploaded each day – Instagram is certainly one of the fastest growing apps today. That’s a lot of selfies one might say, but in fact, when you open your Instagram feed you will be greeted with not only by smiling faces but with blissful sceneries, trendy clothes, and most especially mouthwatering food that are surely a gastronomical treat.

Most of us nowadays post pictures of the food we eat even before we took a bite or a taste of it. The food we order are not merely delicacies for our hungry stomachs but also for the eyes. We take tons of pictures of a single plate, choose the best angle, adjust the brightness and saturation, crop it, caption it with right hashtags, and there you have a perfect Instagram worthy post.

It is almost impossible to scroll down on your feed without seeing something food related post every now and then. Those maple syrup drizzled waffles, mirror-like glazed donuts, pizza overflowing with toppings, burgers oozing with all that cheesy goodness, variety of fruit shakes, and other #foodporn photos we see on our feeds amass large number of interactions from users and give light to new food trends of their own. These Instagram worthy foods have incredibly change the way we eat. Our used to be not so photogenic bread toast or cereal have been replaced by the perky hues of avocado toast and creamy smoothies. The plain looking French breads we used to know are being replaced by rainbow bagels, and the milkshake we used to love have evolved to milkshakes topped with all the imaginable sweets you can put in a glass. With all these inclinations going on, it’s safe to bet that you can actually find a trend for any food item you have tasted.

Instagram and the Success of Food Businesses

Image Source: www.draemedia.com

With a large number of possible audience, more and more restaurants, food and beverage brands realize that social networking sites are the best source of marketing for their growth. Restaurants are uploading greater number of photos of their food items online, this way, customers can have a better idea of what they can be savoring once they dine in. The different food trends also inspires local and even well-established international chefs to be more imaginative in the way they plate their food and with how their foods taste. It also paved way for the utilization of unusual ingredients that are meant to make a dish more unique and stand out among others.

Social media offers an avenue for word of mouth marketing, with instant photo sharing apps like Instagram and quick reviews of restaurants online. This simply means that every dish that is being served have the possibility to give restaurants and brands more customers or lose them some. It’s clear that people today doesn’t only go to a place because of good food, sometimes it’s the ambiance and design of the place that pulls them to come. The more elegant or aesthetic the place is the more Instagram-worthy it is.  That would mean a better chance for the restaurant to be noticed online. One good post about a place could potentially bring in dozens of new customers.

According to a 2014 research of the research firm L2, Instagram had the highest number of engagements and conversion of browsers to shoppers. It was reported that 92% of the brands who post updates an average of 5.5 times per week were able to increase their customer base.

Throughout the years, most brands partnered with individual influencers after all a successful Instagram page is not as easy as it seems though. It’s not something like taking tons of photos of your food products and posting them all at one time and bombarding the feeds of your followers with your posts, there is even a greater chance that you will lose following if you do such. A social media manager can be of great help in things like planning what to post at that certain time and what to post again after a specified time. Someone with the expertise of marketing is vital to the goal of having that feed goals Instagram food page.

How to Have Instagram Success

Image Source: www.tentacleinbound.com

Social media is a very powerful marketing tool, the only thing you need is to find the right medium and determine your target market. Instagram in this case is one of the safe choice when it comes to targeting the food or beverage industry. With its eye candy visuals and easy to navigate interface Instagram can be the perfect avenue. More than 170 million posts for #food and more than 76 million posts for #foodporn have already been posted on Instagram as you read this article and it quickly grows by the minute you finished this one. With all the promising outcomes for businesses that utilize Instagram as a marketing tool, below some of the guidelines to maximize the chances of your restaurant or brand to grow a larger following and bring in more customers.

  • Determine your forte. Instagram users are noticeably passionate, but they are only passionate if you have a noticeably defined interest. In choosing your niche, you may want to avoid general ones like food or drinks. Instead, choose a more specific one. Since you are in the food industry you may want to pick up trends like vegan, healthy snacks, finger foods, street foods, etc. And if you are in the beverage industry, niches like liquors, coffee, fruit shakes, or wines can be your choice. Having a defined niche will give a sense of organization and coherence to the viewers, increasing their possibility of becoming your real world customers.
  • Make Use of Hashtags. When posting items online, your goal is for it to reach the maximum number of audience even those who doesn’t follow your page. Hashtags are created for this reason, users search photos using hashtags, they find out about certain items they can’t normally see in their timelines. Hashtags are like your identification card, people can identify your brand with certain hashtags. Hashtags also increases your accounts exposure and the possibility of growing your following, they can also be used to keep track of the new emerging trends on Instagram about your certain market.
  • Plan Time for Posts. An attractive picture of a good food on Instagram is not a guarantee that you could penetrate the market and grow a massive number of following for the brand. Just like anything else, good timing is an important factor. Posting breakfast items late in the afternoon may not be helpful at all, the same when you post dinner items at breakfast, or uploading 5 consecutive photos in one posting. Taking note of the day is also important when planning for posts, uploading photos before 9 a.m on weekdays right before most people check their phones while on the way to work will surely give you more interactions than that of an item posted past midnight when most people are already sound asleep.
  • Post Regularly. Posting regularly at least once or twice a day could make a huge impact on the number of followers a company needs. This also shows that you are always active and ready to answer possible customer queries. You might be asking “but how about if I run out of budget to finance my product shoot for the day?” You don’t actually need to post live pictures only, you can take multiple shots from today and you can upload it at different times of the weak.
  • Collaborate with Influencers Influencers are Instagram users who have amassed large number of following, their posts are usually the ones that normal Instagram users imitate or take inspirations of, in other words they are the trendsetters. They can make those not so known products and brands famous with their posts or video blogs. Using them as a leverage can get you ahead in the game, send them samples to try, suggest them your restaurant in the comment section when they post food items, or interact with them when they notice your brand. A good example of this is the skincare company Dermache Labs who saw an immediate jump of 50% in their sales after teaming up with popular lifestyle blogs.
  • Keep your posts interesting and timely When people visit your Instagram page, the first thing they will see is your six most recent photos that would sometimes determine if they will keep scrolling or press the back button. Have a variety when posting photos to keep the visitors interested and stay on you page.
  • Have a motif This is very popular on Instagram right now. People have certain motifs for their feeds and it surely is an eye catching trend. Follow suit by having your own motif, you could go for the black and white one for that edgy nostalgic feel or you could have pastel colors for that quirky vibe. You can also make use of the popular trends like flatlaying your food or beverage items. You could also divide a single photo into 3 or 6 to 9 parts and upload them in an organize manner for that grid effect. The good this is you could change your theme every 9 or more grids for a fresher look, just make sure that the transition between themes will be seamless.
  • Post Videos Videos does really good in terms of marketing. Instagram reported that user’s video consumption increased 40% in the past year and it continues to grow as the site extended the video limit from 15 seconds to 1 minute. You can posts videos on how to create you favorite drink using one of your products, or some cooking tutorial on how to cook one of your recipes. You could also post snippets of video reviews about your brand and leave a link to the full video on your caption.
  • Feature your Customers Admit it or not but it does really feel good to be noticed even just on social media, that goes the same for your followers. Take time to notice users who have visited your restaurant or someone who bought your product and posted it on Instagram. Once in a while you can post screenshots of their posts and thank them for it, or posting ‘’thank you’’ comments in their photos also makes a different and could earn you a number loyal customers.
  • Host Giveaways, Contests and Projects Everybody loves free items, and hosting giveaways and photo contest is one great way of increasing your social media visibility. You can offer a restaurant gift certificate to the user who will have the most creative photo featuring one of your products. You can also make use of hashtags like the #30DayChallenge or #BareSelfie and dare users to try your products and share their experience using the hashtags. A recent research by Olapic about Instagram statistics found that Lancome’s #BareSelfie campaign led to more than 50% increase in the sales of their newly launched product line.

Responding to Negative Comments

Image Source: decographic.net

Most of the time, unsatisfied customers will vent out their frustrations on social media. They will come furiously at your page waving their “customers are always right” banner. But most often than not their complaints are unjustified and out of place. Below are tips on how to handle customers like these.

  • Respond Kindly No matter how unjustified a customer’s complaint is, you still need to keep your cool and respond nicely. After all, responding in an arrogant or aggressive manner will only exacerbate the situation, and you are on social media so your reply is not only seen by the complaining customer but also by other users.  Reply in a calm and nice way, ask them to further explain their complaint and if they have a proof for it as you try to investigate the problem.
  • Apologize More importantly, apologize in a sincere and genuine way. Apologize even if the problem is your fault or not. It is also important to explain the company’s side for them to know and understand that sometimes mistakes are committed but you will learn from them and will take it as a lesson to better improve your service.

Take your Brand to the Top

Image Source: www.rafichowdhury.com

Given with all these information and the endless possibility of opportunities brought by social media more specifically Instagram, you are just a few snaps and post away from making your restaurant as the go to of food enthusiasts. Your brand is just a few double taps away from becoming the next top brand.

Social Shares
Ruben Licera

ESTRAT X's Chief ESTRATegy Officer (CEO) Ruben Licera Jr empowers businesses by providing them actionable digital marketing strategies. Know more about him via his personal website or here.

Related Articles