Marketing Food on Instagram in 2023

Food and Instagram seem like a match made in social media marketing heaven.

After all, images of food have been proven to stimulate the appetite.

If you own a cafe, a restaurant or the like, promoting your wares on Instagram can be a powerful way to entice customers through the door.

However, there is more to it than slapping up a few photos. Here are some tips to help promote your food business on Instagram.

Use Instagram as a bridge between offline interactions

My entire approach to social media is about using it as a bridge between online and offline interactions. Provide customers with amazing dining experiences when they are in store. Encourage them to follow you on Instagram and to share their experiences.

Use Instagram to keep customers connected with your business and top-of-mind in between visits. Lure them back quickly with posts promoting your delectable dishes.

Provide visually attractive (but genuine) content

The food businesses that kill it on Instagram post beautifully composed photographs of their food. The image itself is a work of art and demonstrates the delicious creations on offer.

While the images are visually attractive, they must be a realistic depiction of what punters will receive when ordering the same dish in person. There’s nothing more disappointing than discovering that a product shot does not live up to the actual product, particularly when it comes to food.

While it’s important to post visually beautiful images, avoid styling your food so much that it no longer resembles reality.

Social media makes it very easy for customers to share their experiences, amazing and disappointing, so be real.

Don’t Be Shy

Be sure to include you and your staff in some of the images too, so that you become a friendly familiar face to your followers and customers when they come into the store.

Followers also love to meet the culinary genius behind the delectable fare being posted online, so don’t be shy.

Build relationships with local Instagram users

Locals are your bread and butter (pardon the pun), so make the effort to engage with them on Instagram.

Follow your existing customers. Find local people through relevant hashtags and follow them too. Social media is a long term strategy based on building relationships, so interact with local people by liking and commenting on their posts as well.

If you show local Instagrammers love, they will reciprocate with their custom.

Timing is everything

Post regularly, but be strategic about the time of day and the type of images that you post. Be relevant and accessible.

For example, posting an image of an amazing breakfast on a Saturday morning is an excellent idea if you’re going to be open.

Posting the same image at at 2pm on a day when you are closed is not very strategic.

Your aim is to use Instagram to make your followers crave your food so much that they drop everything to have it, and it needs to be available when they arrive.

Avoid the hard sell

The hard sell doesn’t work very well on social media. It’s OK to post about promotions every now and then, but this should only make up a small percentage of your content.

Instead, subtle calls-to-action are more appropriate. For example, captioning a post ‘Have you tried our (insert amazing dish here)’ is still enticing people into the store without using blatant above-the-line marketing tactics.

Hungry Hashtags

Hashtags are a great way to increase the exposure of your posts, but be strategic and avoid overusing them.

Use hashtags relevant to your local area (e.g. #sunshinecoast). Create your own specific to your business and encourage customers to use them when they post about your awesome food.

Using popular hashtags such as #food and #foodporn are fine too. They will attract likes, but if your goal is to get people through the door, be more targeted by using hashtags popular to the local area.

However, the aim is to build a large and loyal customer base of followers so that using hashtags becomes unnecessary.

Monitor what works and keep doing that

Keep a close eye on the types of posts that not only receive the most engagement in likes and comments, but those that bring people into the store.

The number of likes and comments are top-level metrics. While it’s great to be popular on Instagram, it all comes to naught if your popularity does not convert into customers.

Take note if you sell more of a particular dish after you have posted about it on Instagram and don’t be afraid to ask your customers what brought them in.

Keep enhancing and evolving your Instagram presence in line with your customers’ preferences and needs.

After all, it’s all about the customer experience, both in-store and online.

Put them first and they’ll do the same for you and your business.

Do you have any tips or questions about marketing food on Instagram?

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  1. Great article and….totally concur – they are three of the places I love…all have amazing presentation which delivers.Thank you.

    1. It’s a pleasure. It’s so easy to write about food and Instagram. Two of my favourite things. 🙂

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