What You Need To Know: A Restaurant’s Guide To Instagram

These days, when opening a restaurant, concept is everything. Where once concept was reflected in brick and mortar appearance — an amalgamation of menu design, decor, storefront and cuisine — now, a restaurant’s brand is communicated via its online presence. And this happens before a diner even enters the eatery.

With so many platforms disseminating information about your restaurant, how can you control what a diner will expect upon arrival? Get on Instagram — the center of food porn and the social media network most widely associated with the culinary industry. Take advantage of the platform as a key marketing tool, and if you use it right, you will have guests lining up for tables at your establishment. (Just ask Boba Guys.)

The Set Up

Set Up Your Profile

Your entire profile should be thoughtfully designed. Make sure you are easily discoverable by including your business’s name in your handle — if that is not available, try adding your market at the end. Next, add a profile picture. This will become your restaurant’s icon, so consider featuring your logo, a popular dish or your chef.

Instagram also gives you 200 characters to describe your organization. Use this space to share your restaurant’s story. And, definitely include a website. Linking to your site lets users easily view your menu or make a reservation after discovering your page.

The Content

Pick A Dish

Diners get really excited when a restaurant has a speciality dish, something that the establishment is known for and that diner’s can’t get anywhere else. Feature your house favorite prominently on Instagram, and use the caption to share the story behind the dish. This will leave diners intrigued and eager to experience your food.

From The Kitchen

Everyone knows that the kitchen is where the real magic takes place, so show diners what is going on behind the scenes and who is in the back of house preparing their delicious meals. Videos of a dish from start to finish always perform well on social media.

The Post

Quality Is Everything

In order to effectively communicate your restaurant’s story, you need to use quality photos. iPhone photography can be great, when executed properly, but consider hiring a professional photographer to document your restaurant at the beginning. Then, you’ll have a library of beautiful photos that you can constantly publish to your Instagram feed.


Make sure you geotag all of your posts with your restaurant! People often search for restaurants by their geotag, without going to restaurant-specific profiles. Capitalize on this, and make sure that all of your content appears here.


Hashtagging your content is a great way to get it in front of potential new customers. Each market and cuisine has its own set of hashtags that perform the best; however, one important thing to note is that you should never post these hashtags in the caption. Rather, comment on your own picture, after your caption, and populate all of the hashtags there. This will make your posts seem less aggressive and more authentic. (Pro tip: Some of the best hashtags across the restaurant industry are: #food, #foodporn, #foodie, #healthy and #nom.)

The Strategy

Get There Early

Once you are all set up, start posting. Immediately. Diners will be Instagramming your restaurant from the day that it opens, so you need to get to the platform early. Before launch, populate your page with pictures of the dishes you plan to serve and with snapshots of the dining room. Not only will this help you control what the public knows about your restaurant before they come, but it will also create some buzz leading up to opening day.

Engage With Consumers

When people mention you on social media, by tagging or geotagging your restaurant, engage with them! Comment back thanking them for the picture, or repost their content. This will encourage more people to post beautiful photos of your food and foster connections between you and your guests.

Think About The Flow

It all has to work together. So, when posting, think about each photograph as it relates to the others near it. Use your Instagram flow to bring diner’s in. It’s a holistic tool for you to communicate with them what you want them to know about your kitchen.