The world of social media is constantly growing, changing, and evolving. New platforms emerge, and more senior platforms add new features to stay competitive with the newcomers.
When it comes to representing a hospitality industry business on social media, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok are generally the most-used social media trio of the current day. Across these three platforms, you are bound to reach various demographics of your target audience using each one. If your restaurant, hotel, unique venue, or catering company is not on these platforms, it is time to begin.
The platform we will specifically talk about in this article is Instagram. Instagram has continued to show its ability to evolve to stay the most relevant in the competitive environment of social platforms.
In June of 2021, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, took the digital marketing world by surprise when he announced that Instagram is no longer a photo-sharing app but is a video app. Instagram is not just about photos on the grid, and frankly, it has not been for a while now.
Since that announcement, Instagram has rolled out various features to compete with its biggest video app competitor: TikTok. The most apparent release being Instagram Reels. Like TikTok videos, Reels can vary in length, with a video as short as 15 seconds or as long as 90 seconds. TikTok has introduced the longer form 3-minute Reel, similar to Instagram’s current video feature. Video is having a moment right now, and the accounts that take advantage of features that Instagram wants are rewarded with extra favorability by Instagram’s algorithm. This is just one example of Instagram evolving and using new features to do so.
So, where should you begin with Instagram, and how will you stand out among the other businesses posting on social media while keeping up with all of the updates from the platform itself? We were hoping you would ask. We have some tips for optimizing your account on Instagram and growing your presence.
Tip 1: Start simple and analyze your niche
As a restaurant, hotel, unique venue, or catering company in the hospitality industry, your niche will be your business. This niche will guide the type of content you post to your page to attract the right followers.
When posting anything on social media, you always want to think about what will be valuable content for your target audience. This is one way you will stand out among the crowd because your content will be exactly what your followers want to see. In the case of the hospitality industry and depending on your exact venue type, that will be showing food and drink content, venue tours, social media contests, behind-the-scenes looks at your team, and special event experiences.
Since your venue is located in a specific geographical area, it is important to incorporate elements of the local community into your content because that will be relevant to your niche. For example, as a restaurant in Boston, businesses need to stay in tune with local happenings, like the countless professional sports celebrations and how they can get involved in the excitement. As you look for diners, event planners, and locals interested in visiting your restaurant, be sure to put yourself in the position to be found by those groups based on creating relevant content.
Tip 2: Clean up your Instagram bio basics
The next step to standing out on Instagram is to optimize your basics: the bio. The Instagram bio is the first impression someone has when visiting your profile. It may seem simple, but many accounts skip out on completing a full bio, hurting their chances of impressing a profile visitor.
What elements make up an Instagram bio?
- Account name: This should be your business name.
- Profile photo: This should be your business logo.
- Category: This is your business type — restaurant, caterer, hotel, or event venue.
- Bio: Business description and piece of credibility
- The first part of the bio is a description of your business
- The second part of the bio is a piece of credibility about your business that could also help you stand out. Any piece of success could be added here; think “Best Ranked Restaurant by X Magazine.”
- Link: Every Instagram account is given the option to put one link in the bio, so choose carefully. This should be your website to start, but further down the line, you could use a link in bio tool, which is a landing page that hosts multiple links where you could include your website, Tripleseat lead form, menus, and so on. There are a lot of link in bio tools available; one of our favorites is Linktree.
- Address: This should be your business address.
Tip 3: Post creatively, purposefully, and consistently
Now that you understand the niche behind your account and have mastered your first impression with a cleaned-up Instagram bio, it is time to post. By following a consistent posting strategy, your account will get found, receive increased engagement, and grow, leading to the overall result of standing out on Instagram.
Theoretically, restaurants could post similar types of content because everyone wants to show off their new menus, most popular drinks, and outdoor spaces. The way to stand out is to tap into what is “in” on Instagram and execute it more creatively than the rest.
As mentioned at the start of this article, video is really hot right now across all social media platforms. Reels are the video feature you should be trying when it comes to Instagram. Instead of taking a still photo of your space, switch it up with a 30-second Reel touring around your private event room. Go beyond a photo of your dish and create a Reel of your chef describing how the special sauce is made and where the fresh ingredients originated. If you have any sort of food experience on your menu, like a torched cocktail or a dish that is served table-side, film a quick video of that experience. When you get specific by showing what’s unique about your restaurants, your content will stand out for being different from your competitors.
Scroll through the Reels page on Instagram, and you will also see what sounds and actions are trending at any moment. By recreating those trends with your own restaurant’s personality shining through, viewers will recognize your restaurant as one that keeps up with the current times. When recreating a trend, think about how it could be entertaining, informative, and relatable to your target audience.
While Reels are most important for engagement on Instagram right now, photos are still important. According to Instagram experts, carousel posts receive more engagement than single photo posts. Try posting a series of photos together to your feed, perhaps showing off the eight different dishes you serve in your eight-course dining experience. This could also work to show off the various cocktails that were recently added to your menu or a series of shots from setting up for an event. Grab your camera and get creative shooting a series of continuous photos.
When other accounts engage with your profile and content, those actions let Instagram know that people are highly interested in what you’re posting. Instagram will then favor your account and put your posts in front of more eyes. To increase engagement on your profile so that Instagram favors your account, you can purposefully post to promote intentional engagement.
Engagement can come in many different forms: likes, comments, shares, direct messages, saves, views, story interactions, and more. Let’s look at how we could promote intentional engagement in three of these areas.
Comments: Post a photo carousel of your new summer drink menu followed by some cocktail shots with the caption: “Summer is here, and so is our brand new seasonal cocktail list! Which drink are you most excited to enjoy on our patio this summer? Let us know with a comment below.” By instructing the viewer to interact with the post in the form of a comment, you create intentional engagement for them to interact with your account.
Shares: Run a social media contest for the month, with the grand prize being a $100 gift card to your restaurant. To compete, followers must share a Reel you posted on your feed about the contest to their own stories and tag you in the story. Share engagements are the most important form of engagement. They show interaction with your restaurant’s content. Plus, sharing exposes your content to the followers of the people who shared your posts, further expanding your reach.
Story interactions: There are various ways that you can create intentional engagement with the elements already in Instagram Stories. Try using the poll feature that lets a viewer vote between two options. This could be a “this or that” series where you show two cocktails, two appe- tizers, and two desserts from your menu and ask your followers to pick a favorite. The questions feature lets you propose a question to your followers that they can interact with your account to answer. The quiz feature is another good one that lets you add a multiple choice question with four possible responses. Simply posting great content on Stories will also promote intentional engagement from viewers using the default emojis listed when you swipe up on an account’s Instagram Story.
When you post purposefully to create intentional engagement, Instagram will reward you and put you at the top of the feed of the accounts that interact with you and other accounts that may like you. As you continue to land at the top of someone’s feed and lineup of Instagram Stories, you will make an impression and stand out to your audience.
Now that you have creative content that you are posting purposefully, it is important to be posting consistently. Do not bite off more than you can chew when creating a posting schedule. It is OK to start smaller if the posts are consistent and then grow to a larger number of posts that also stay consistent. There is no perfectly confirmed number of times to post on Instagram, but anywhere from daily to three times a week to multiple times per day based on your ability to stay consistent could work for your account.
Use these tips to stay in Instagram’s spotlight
In conclusion, standing out on Instagram comes from following Instagram’s own algorithm and showing your business’ unique personality creatively. By following these tips, you can recruit your target audience and turn them into loyal fans of your business.