Instagram is notoriously the brunt of jokes about selfies and food pics. A few years ago, you would have been on the receiving end of a host of judgmental looks for taking a picture of your food before you ate it. Now, instead of judgmental looks, food pictures are receiving likes and jealous comments from your friends and followers. Some people have entire profiles dedicated to the food they eat, and some are even making careers of snapping pictures of their meals (@chicagofoodauthority). This new trend creates an opening for culinary experts to improve on their historically (and generally) minimal marketing efforts in an inexpensive and engaging way. Recently, we had the opportunity to work with an up-and-coming food truck, Cordwood BBQ, in developing their social media strategy. We picked up a few tips (and maybe a few pounds) along the way.
Instagram is primarily a visual medium. While creative captions are important, the old adage “a picture is worth a 1000 words” holds especially true on the social media platform. Instagram is no place for blurry or unfocused pictures. Taking a moment to think about the composition of a photo or what interesting scene you could capture makes all the difference between likes, new followers and new customers, and just another social media account to manage.
Play with your food
In the name of being artsy, don’t be afraid to play with your food. Any restaurateur knows that presentation is everything; the same applies for a photo of the food as well. Move your plate around to find the perfect lighting, push that carrot over to create a perfectly symmetrical plate and perfectly position your drink next to your meal.
Be a fan of filters
When you’re creating the perfect image, use the magic of filters. As an eatery, there may be a specific filter that really communicates your brand, so use it! If you’re a retro-diner, use an old-school filter with a high grain and sepia tones. If you’re a modern sushi establishment, use filters that make your colors pop and keep everything clean with high contrast. Start with the filters in the platform and you can expand your horizons to include filters from other apps like VSCO Cam. If you’re feeling really advanced, you can use the different tools to change the levels yourself.
Play with your words
While photos are important, image isn’t everything. Clever captions can take a fantastic image to the next level. As a primarily artistic medium, wordplay is highly encouraged. Keep your captions relatively short, but work in poetry, rhyme, alliteration or a funny pun.
Hashtags are probably the best way to boost the effectiveness and the reach of your image. Do some research to discover which hashtags are popular for your area or your type of food. I am a big fan of using location-based hashtags paired with hashtags that are specific to the image that’s being posted. In food, I also found the following to be fan favorites: #foodie, #nom, and our location-specific #eatdrinkmi.
Don’t forget to engage!
Your customers are engaging with you; it’s simple logic that you should do the same. Create contests that challenge your customers to take the most tantalizing photo and re-gram them. Encourage conversation in the comments section of your photos. If you talk to them, they’ll talk back, and they’ll likely become more loyal customers in the future.
Tag your friends…
…and locations…and businesses…and anything else you can tag. This is another great way to engage with your potential customers. This also gives you a greater reach and access to the networks of whomever you may be tagging—which means more eyes will see your delicious food!
Instagram is one of the greatest ways to showcase your creations, whether they be food-related or otherwise. If you haven’t taken advantage of this great (and free!) platform, consider making the jump. But before you do, think about your strategy in doing so. If you need help ironing out the details of an Instagram strategy, we’re here for you (especially if you bring food).
Follow us on Instagram @movecomm_a2 for more tips!