The restaurant industry has become an increasingly social media-driven world. Yelp reviews, tweets, and Instagram posts can help create buzz and promote a restaurant’s success. To really invest in the success of your restaurant, it’s important to have a robust showing in various social media channels.

Instagram in particular is a useful tool for restaurants, as it is a visual medium which allows you to showcase your restaurant theme, concept, culture, and of course, your cuisine in an engaging and easy-to-follow format. To the Instagram-uninitiated, or those who might need a refresher course, these 10 tips for Instagram success are specifically geared to restaurants, with the goal of representing your business in the best way possible on Instagram. Ranging from photography tips to faux pas to avoid, bookmark this guide so that you can keep on seeking social media success.

What is Instagram? Before we dig into the tips, let’s talk for a moment about what Instagram is, exactly. Instagram is a social media platform made for sharing photos and videos from a smartphone. Like Facebook or Twitter, you have an account and a news feed; when you post something, it is displayed on your profile and in the feed of your followers. Likewise, you’ll see the photos or videos in your feed from people who you follow.

10 Tips for Promoting Your Restaurant on Instagram. Now that you have an idea of what Instagram is, let’s talk about some ways to use it to promote your restaurant effectively.

Post only delicious-looking food

Only post food photos that show your offerings in a flattering way. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it really is worth taking the time to explain.
For instance, say your roast chicken is the most delicious dish on this side of the Mississippi, and everyone says so. If that roast chicken was photographed in low, unflattering light, it’s not going to look enticing on your Instagram feed. We eat with our eyes first, and people are really only interested in seeing objects of food beauty on Instagram. Be sure to use natural light whenever possible, and take photos that show the most flattering side of a food: the sheen on a freshly applied chocolate ganache, the gooeyness of the cheese as you lift a slice of pizza off of the plate.


Yes, all caps–as well as a separate entry–are required for this tip. Dessert pictures help sell your restaurant. Interestingly, even people who “don’t like sweets” love pretty pictures of pies, cakes, or plated desserts. Dessert pictures are seemingly as trend-proof as the sweet stuff itself, and rate among the most “liked” and shared photos out there. Take advantage of this by posting unique and delicious-looking desserts on your feed. You just might drive sales this way, too!

Embrace the Regram and connect with customers

This is not only a way to connect with customers but also to boost your photography if your own skills are not up to snuff: use a regramming (or reposting) application. There are various apps out there which work hand in hand with Instagram, from which you can repost content from others (a function which is not directly built in to Instagram).
With the ability to repost other members’ photos, you can feature some of the tastiest-looking images that customers have taken. This not only delights customers and makes them feel appreciated, but allows you to showcase your cuisine and establishment in the most flattering way.

Promote specials

Use your Instagram feed to show off special dishes, drinks, or promotions to customers. Promoting limited edition items visually can be far more effective than a news update with no photos, as it gives the potential customer a sneak peek of what is in store if they come to your establishment. If something looks really unique or enticing, customers will come to check it out! Of course, be smart about your timing in posting limited-edition specials: don’t post a photo at 9pm if your establishment closes at 10pm. Give customers some time to react!

Consider your timing

The last tip leads in very well to this one: carefully consider the timing of your Instagram shots. In general, it’s going to be most helpful to post photos either before you open or during opening hours. Posting on the early side can be helpful in promoting items or specials that you want to showcase on that day, and it gives customers a chance to see it and consider what their dinner plans are.

During opening hours, posting around meal times is particularly effective for a restaurant, as it will catch customers at their hungriest (and most willing to consider you for their next meal). Posting late at night or five minutes before you close might not be the best use of your social media time. If you find that it’s too hectic to post during your open hours, schedule your posts so that they can go out while you’re hard at work. Apps such as Hootsuite can help you schedule your posts so that they go out at specific times.

Feature key ingredients or suppliers

In promoting your restaurant’s culture, be sure to showcase the ingredients or suppliers who contribute to your cuisine. For instance, if you use berries from a local farm, be sure to give a shout-out and either regram photos from that farm, or take photos of your latest delivery of mouthwatering produce. People love knowing where their food comes from, and this provides your customers with a unique insight and “story” for your cuisine.

Post behind the scenes pictures

Take photos of your staff hard at work, or any behind the scenes shots that might be interesting to your customers. They rarely get a glimpse behind the kitchen doors, so it may be very interesting to see a photo of the pastry chef in their apron applying whipped cream to tarts, or a video of a seasoned chef chopping vegetables at lightning speed. Capturing these behind the scenes moments can make your restaurant more interesting to your customers.

Hashtag it

A hashtag is word or phrase preceded with a “hash” sign (#) which is used to identify messages (or on Instagram, images) featuring specific content. Hashtags are helpful in letting you connect with people who might be interested in the content you are posting. For instance, you could be quite literal, with #pizza as a hashtag for, well, pizza. But you can also use it to promote your restaurant or region, for instance, if you are located in Atlanta, tags such as #atlantafood or #ATLeats can help identify you as an eatery in the region.

Follow food holidays

People love food holidays! If you have any doubt about it, just look at hashtags such as #nationaldonutday. Get in on the social media sensation by posting relevant foods on such holidays. This is not only fun for you, but engaging content for your customers, and it provides them an incentive to eat at your restaurant–while also performing their civic duty!

Post consistently

You don’t have to post nonstop, but be consistent. Find how many posts per day or week feels good to you, and maintain a schedule. Don’t get overzealous and post six photos one day and then not post for the next three days. Consistency will help you reap the rewards of social media, and will increase consumer awareness of who you are and what you do.


Instagram can be an effective and fun way to visually promote your restaurant. By taking a few minutes to review these tips for instagram success, you’ll be well on your way to promoting your restaurant and engaging via this unique social media tool.