Bad news: Your restaurant may not be as pretty as you think it is. Or, at least, it may not be as attractive to Instagram as you’d like. And that alone can be greatly hampering your visibility.It wasn’t that long ago that restaurants were attempting to ban cell phones from their establishments. Now, a brand can barely exist without them. While someone standing on their chair to get that perfect picture of their entrée may be the only thing that rivals a crying baby in annoyance at a restaurant, there’s no doubt the impact social media has made on the food and beverage industry. In fact, many brands are designing menu items, interior design, and even their entire brand on social sharability. Consider it “food porn”, but for every element of a restaurant: something that is irresistible to the eyes and demands to be captured. Unlike food porn, however, appealing to a social market can have some fairly significant and tangible impacts on your brand, the largest two being:
- Marketing. By far the benefit most entrepreneurs covet, social media can help your restaurant become part of the conversation in a way that traditional marketing cannot. In fact, if your brand has plenty of “Insta-worthy” elements, congratulations: you have just created a self-sustained, prominent, highly effective, and most attractively, inexpensive form of advertising. User-generated content has a power that other forms of marketing do not, one that you can utilize to promote a product, raise awareness, or simply drive people through your door.
- Feedback. No need for focus groups here. With social media, you have a direct line of communication to your consumers, allowing you to have a better and more complete understanding of what your guests want, what dishes they love, and most importantly, what could be improved upon. Having your fingers to the pulse of the general consensus of your brand allows you to adapt to consumer needs, changing what needs work and doubling down on what’s already working.
So Instagram is a doubtless boon to your brand, if done correctly. But that raises the question… how do you make your restaurant go viral? While certain restaurants are designed from the ground up to be as attractive to Instagram as possible, you don’t have to tear your building down brick by brick in order to be more photogenic. Simply keep these three elements in mind:
- Décor & Design. Keep in mind that this is different than an attractive restaurant, but one that is photo ready. The low-lit speakeasies of yesteryear may have exceptional vibes, but pictures come out grainy and not at all enticing. Elements that may have been overlooked such as lighting, art on the walls, and even the contrast between the table and dishes are paramount to the visual identity and appeal of your brand. Sufficient lighting, eye-catching spaces, and colors help your brand be appealing.
- Food. There’s a reason you don’t see Big Macs on your Instagram feed. Even if your food is amazingly tasty, if it’s not visually appealing, you lose on a massive opportunity. In fact, people who have never been to your establishment may stop in if they’ve seen buzz on social media; just ask Starbucks when they debuted their Unicorn Frappuccino. A captivating, curious, and colorful dish can literally drive people through your doors. Experiment with plating, ingredients and more to maximize visual appeal.
- Branding: Have you ever watched a hilarious commercial, then struggled to remember the product or company it was promoting? Likely, branding was the culprit. Just because your restaurant promotes irresistible photography doesn’t mean it will be associated with your name. Ensure that other elements of your restaurant, such as menus, signage, and even the food itself has your name on it in order to maximize recognition.
Want an easy test? Walk in through your restaurant’s front door, take out your phone, and look at everything through the lens of the camera. Art, food, even bathrooms… did you find a Kodak moment? If not, you have an area to improve. By adapting your restaurant to be more attractive to social media users and embracing recent trends, you can tap into a marketing channel that can bring for hungry consumers through your doors for months and years to come.