using instagram in a restaurant

You’ve been posting to Instagram and growing your audience, now how can you use that audience to turn their engagement into actual results?

Host a Restaurant Photo Contest on Instagram

First things first, before you plan your contest, think about the end result that you’re looking for. Do you want more followers, more guests in the door?

Figuring out your goal will help you decide how to run your contest. Think about these different types of contests to see what works for you and your goals.

Partnering Up

Partnering with another business gives you exposure to their entire audience and can build community.

This is a great idea for restaurants in a neighborhood that is a destination in its own.

  • Is there a nearby shop you could work with to help each other get more exposure?
  • What about a neighborhood association?
  • Don’t limit yourself to only businesses, think of the influencers in your area. Is there a local food, booze, or lifestyle blogger with a lot of followers?

Make the rules to the contest such that all entrants need to follow both your businesses, so that you both get a benefit from the contest. If you’re in an up and coming neighborhood, this can be a great way to draw people to your part of town.


Gaining Followers

If your goal is to purely get more followers, think of a contest with a straightforward, super easy call to action to follow you and get other people to do the same.

For example, winners will be chosen from all people who follow you and comment on your post by tagging a friend who will follow you also. This can get you a lot more followers quickly. You could also chose a winner based on who reposts your original post, so that you know your post will come up in other people’s feed. This type of contest gets your followers to actively get more people to your page.

Posting Photos

A photo contest is perfect for Instagram and can be a lot of fun.

Choose a specific hashtag to use for this contest and encourage your followers to post their own photos. Be clear in the rules about what they have to post (a selfie at the bar, their favorite entree, their favorite friend to go out with) and have them tag their photo with a hashtag that you can search. This helps you gain exposure to your followers’ followers, as well as supplies you with shareable content that you can use in your own feed.

Remember: Whatever type of contest you decide to run, keep the contest short and sweet.

Keep the rules simple, and the duration of the contest short enough so that your followers are engaged, but you don’t bore them. A contest that drags on for too long you can end up losing followers because your feed bores them and it seems too transactional. A quick contest with a specific end goal is more effective and a lot of fun.

Instagram has changed the restaurant industry, don't be left behind. Get your strategy in place.

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Kristin lives on the West Side of Providence with her wine blogger husband. When she's not co-hosting their monthly wine tastings, she's planning her next travel adventure and daydreaming about Spanish jamón. She can often be found pouring over travel guides at her favorite neighborhood spot, Nick's on Broadway.