Social media influences consumer trends in every market. Those in the restaurant industry are perfectly poised to harness its power. Meals are a hot-ticket item on Instagram. Posting pictures of food and people enjoying a meal is a social trend that is not going away anytime soon. By taking a few proactive measure, restaurants will capitalize on this ready resource.
Own Your Hashtag
No, not literally. You can’t actually own a hashtag, but you can flood Instagram with images associated with your brand, all linked to a particular hashtag. Shake Shack is a prime example of a business that leveraged Instagram to explode their standing within the restaurant industry. When evaluating Shake Shack’s early success, Goldman Sachs attributed Shake Shack’s resonance with Millenials to their strong social media presence. Shake Shack’s Instagram feed strikes an attractive balance between staged and realistic images. Try to scroll through their feed without suddenly growing an appetite: it’s unlikely to happen.
Cultivate an Instagrammable Atmosphere
There are a few factors that contribute to a Instagrammable climate. Social proof is the social phenomenon in which people look to the behaviours of the people in their immediate environment to guide their own behaviour. Your guests are more likely to snap a picture of themselves or their meal if they see other patrons and staff taking pictures first. Make recognizing and encouraging photo opportunities a priority in your workflow. The most important factor to impress upon your staff is timing. Even though a freshly plated meal looks its best, it’s not a good idea to suggest that patrons pose for a picture when they first receive their meal, if they are hungry and anxious to eat. Your staff should focus on the two D’s: desert and dates. People are typically relaxed over desert and not mainly motivated by hunger. This is a good time to catch happy patrons. Dates, particularly first dates, are good opportunities for a picture because your guests are most likely more interested in their company, and appearing well, than their meal. These are two opportunities which your staff should be on the lookout for.
Other possibilities to consider are creating a space within the dining area that is particularly photogenic. If there is a pronounced theme to your decor, stage a quirky area with your branding and associated hashtags made clearly visible. Make it easy for patrons to tap into your network. Further, it almost goes without saying that the table settings should be immaculate. You don’t want patrons to be in a situation where they have to rearrange the table settings or crop something out because the tablecloth was stained or the flowers were wilting.
Plate Instagrammable Food
It might be tempting to overlook the obvious, but it is important that your staff be trained to plate well. No one is going to be inspired to post positively about their meal if it is piled up on their plate. This can be tricky to enforce, particularly if you run a busy restaurant, but there should be some safeguards in place to ensure that your staff takes plating food seriously. Consider incorporating a “Plating Artist” incentive program, where employees who demonstrate plating skill are recognized and rewarded on a monthly basis. The most important thing to impress upon your staff is to take personal pride in their work; punitive actions won’t encourage this. Reflect on the character and traits of your team and come up with a creative way to motivate them to create and arrange Instagrammable food.
Your social media presence is an opportunity for you to showcase your restaurant and highlight your patrons. Creativity and authenticity are strong currency in this area. Social media is inherently dynamic and ever evolving. Get your whole team on board to ensure you don’t let this opportunity slip away.
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