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Instagram’s new feed algorithm favors posts with high engagement, meaning that the more likes and comments your post receives, the more other people will see it in their feed.

That means that now more than ever, your restaurant needs to get your followers to engage with your content. You’ve taken a good photo, the lighting is perfect, but now you need to put extra effort into a good caption to get a conversation started with your followers.

Instagram allows up to 2,200 characters for a caption, which is great, but there’s no special formula for what is perfect. Good captions can be long or short, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s encouraging engagement with your particular audience. Every feed is different, and so is every image, so tailor the captions for the image that you’re posting.

Need a little inspiration? Here are 7 Tips for Using your Restaurant’s Instagram

Provide Context

Provide your followers with information about your image. Through words, give the image context so that viewers know exactly what you mean and hope to achieve with this image.

Show Your Personality

Captions are also the best place to input your personality. Be a little sassy, a little funny, or contemplative, whatever your personality is and you want to reflect in that image, include it. Just remember to always stay on brand, this is your business feed, not your personal one.

View this post on Instagram

@altonbrown and his crew (along with the @eater video team) in #providence #rhodeisland #ABRoadEats https://youtu.be/UW38GPl9bxE

A post shared by Olneyville New York System (@olneyvillenysystem) on

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Post quality content

Think of your Instagram account as a magazine for your business. You wouldn’t let a blurry photo go to print, likewise, it shouldn’t be in your feed. Every photo should be clear, well lit and nicely composed. It doesn’t stop there though, your captions should also be in a consistent voice that is in line with your brand’s restaurant mission statement and should aim to engage, not just broadcast.

Create a Call to Action

Directly encourage your followers to do something with a clear call to action. In other marketing areas, such as a blog post, you may end with a call to action, but in Instagram you should keep it toward the beginning of your post, since longer captions get cut off in a feed. Ask your followers a question and specifically tell them to answer in the comments, send them to your blog for a longer article, or encourage them to buy something or make a reservation.

Mention other Users

The more you can include other users, the more you’re spreading a conversation around and inviting people to join in. Those users you mention will hopefully start commenting, encourage others to comment and possibly share your image.

Use Hashtags

Hashtags receive an average of 12.6% more engagement than posts without any. Research the hashtags that are most appropriate for you and your business and incorporate them into your captions. If you have a lot, consider adding them as the first comment to keep the caption clutter-free. Also, figure out a hashtag for your brand that you can use, and encourage others to use.

Respond

Remember to always keep the social in social media. If you’re asking your followers to answer a question in the comments, make sure you’re paying attention to the responses coming in. You don’t need to respond to all of them, but respond to enough that people know you’re reading them and engaging with them.

Interacting with your guests directly is a lot of fun and can go a long way in building customer loyalty. Investing a bit of time each day to be thoughtful in your social media will pay off down the road with increased business.

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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.