Social media is becoming more and more important for the thriving hospitality industry. You may already have a Facebook account with thousands of fans, but unless you run – and regularly update – an Instagram account for your café, you could be missing out on a huge untapped resource. We reveal the four best ways to use Instagram to market your café and grow your brand.
- Find your style and stick to it
Just like your website and marketing material, your Instagram feed needs a definitive style that is unmistakably you. You wouldn’t have clashing styles inside your café, so treat your Instagram feed the same way.
Get your colours, image styles, graphics and typography in sync with what you’ve already created in your café and across your promotional material. Also make sure to narrow down the numerous Insta filters to just a few that suit your style – that way your images will always look familiar to your followers whenever they appear in their feeds.
Finally, invest in capturing great images. This might mean forking out for a good-quality camera, or maybe you know a budding photographer who just so happens to be part of your wait staff. You could publish their photos of what’s happening around the café in exchange for a free coffee and a direct ‘at’ (@) to their account.
- Embrace hashtags and geotagging
Love them or loathe them, there’s no doubt hashtags are extremely important on Instagram – especially for cafés that want to get noticed!
First, do a bit of research around the popular hashtags for the food industry, and be sure to note down any specialised tags that relate to particular dishes you serve. Also find out what other local businesses are tagging – for example, if you run a café in St Kilda in Melbourne, it’s worth using location-specific hashtags like #stkildafoodies so people nearby know where you are and that you’re proud of being a local.
Geotagging is also very helpful and is as simple as hitting ‘Add location’ when you’re about to share a post. It means when users are searching for cafés nearby, yours will show up in their lists – which won’t happen unless you deliberately share your location. Think of it as an untapped audience that is actively seeking your business (i.e. a place to eat!).
- Interact with your fan base
Instagram is a hugely popular social media platform for good reason – it’s all about being social. So don’t be afraid to draw back the curtain and interact directly with your fans.
It takes time to build an engaged audience – and it’s definitely not advisable to pay for bots to grow your follower numbers, as it’s a superficial tactic and can actually hurt your business in the long run.
Even if you only have a few dozen followers, treat them like your best friends. Whenever someone comments on a post, make an effort to reply to them directly – or at the very least ‘like’ their comment. Instagram should be treated as a customer service channel, so it’s no different to interacting face-to-face with a patron in your café.
- Reward your loyal followers and nurture newcomers
This leads into the fact that there’s an opportunity to grow your customer base through engaging conversations on Insta.
Rather than just posting pictures of the food you make, use Instagram to interact with followers and newcomers, and encourage their participation through rewards systems. This may include asking for customers’ opinions on what your café’s daily special should be, or holding photo contests for the best images from inside your place of business.
Alternatively, you can reward customer shares with free meals. Maybe people with a good follower count who share your photos can get a free coffee next time they’re nearby. While you might only have a handful of followers yourself, your customers may have thousands of friends and fans who can sing your praises and get your café’s Insta feed directly to their phones.
Use everything you can to drive growth
Technology is a wonderful thing for small businesses, but it’s not all just about social media and marketing tactics. For the time-strapped business owner or café manager, streamlining intensive tasks – like employee rostering calendars and approving timesheets – through online solutions could give you back an extra few hours that you can spend learning and mastering Instagram.