Instagram has recently made A LOT of changes - have you heard? They've been introducing new features left and right, and while it can seem overwhelming or pointless to use them, just remember that your audience is using them. Which means it isn't pointless. And you need to meet your audience where they are.
Feeling overwhelmed already? Don't fret, I've laid out a roundup of the newest Instagram features and how YOU, as a restaurant owner or manager, can use them as part of your social media strategy. The quicker you get comfortable diving in with these new features and the more you're using them as they come about, the less you'll feel overwhelmed or have to play "catch up" down the line.
So here's a rundown of the new Instagram features, along with some ideas on how you can use them in your restaurant.
The Stories feature isn’t brand new, but many restaurants aren’t using this feature yet, and there are so many opportunities to cultivate more interest around your brand! With the Stories feature, you can take photo or video that is available on your Story for only 24 hours, similar to Snapchat. It encourages people to tune into your brand consistently for fleeting content. We all know that a lot of things going on in the restaurant are not always “Instagram-worthy,” but they’re interesting to your followers or potential customers. Stories allow you to show people product, menu items, or behind-the-scenes shots without tarnishing or disrupting the polished look of your main Instagram profile. Your Stories should still be “on brand,” however; it’s not a free-for-all - unless that’s part of your identity.
Ideas for use: use Stories as a promotional tool and create “deals” that people would only know about by viewing your Story; showcase prepping process for unique menu items; exhibit the energy or atmosphere during peak service times (make the viewer wish they were there); take mouth-watering photos or videos of menu items or cocktails; use Stories to reiterate daily some of your unique selling points (health conscious, beachside, environmentally friendly, authentic recipes, grab-and-go options); use Stories to increase sales in a particular category by highlighting it consistently (happy hour, dessert, new specials)
The new LIVE video feature is new to Instagram Stories. Instead of just taking a photo or video to post to your Story, you can now broadcast live! There will be a “Live” indicator on your Story circle during your broadcast, so that your followers will be notified when you start a Live broadcast. Unlike Facebook’s Live feature, you won’t be able to save the broadcast when you finish, but it’s a fun and interactive feature you should try out! Let people know you’re going live at a certain time (and why) to increase viewership of the live Story.
Ideas for use: A live virtual tour of your restaurant; focus on the creation of a unique menu item and give viewers information on sourcing of product, recipe hints, or just a look at the creation process (think handmade tortillas, grinding spices, roasting of proteins or produce); encourage questions and engagement and be prepared to respond to comments and questions; broadcast a music performance or the energy surrounding the “big game.”
Have you ever taken screenshots of other people’s Instagram photos, only to lose them in the shuffle of your ever-growing camera photo album? Now you can Bookmark Instagram posts that you want to save for later viewing. The saved photos are private; they can only be seen by you, and they’re all collected in one easy-to-access tab on your Instagram profile page.
Ideas for use: save memes you want to repost; save photo styles or captions you want to emulate for your brand; recipes you’re interested in re-creating; save posts from influencers or accounts you want to interact with on a regular basis as a reminder to engage with them; encourage your followers to save YOUR post with valuable info on an upcoming event, promotion, or a recipe you’d like to share.
You now have the option of “liking” comments on your posts, and you should like EVERY single comment. Just click “View all comments” or click the comment button on your post and you’ll see a little white heart to the right of each comment. When you click the heart, it turns red which means you’ve “liked” the comment. I recommend doing this not only on your own posts, but also on the comments left under other people’s posts - if it makes sense. Don’t just spam “comment likes” for the heck of it. If you agree with someone’s comment on another post, go ahead and “like” it or even reply to it. This is part of the conversational aspect of social media. The SOCIAL aspect, if you will. The user will get a notification that you’ve liked their comment, and hopefully check out your page and follow you as well.
With the ever-changing world of social media, there's no time to waste in avoiding learning about the newest features. There's no wrong way to do it, you just have to start playing with them and use them in a way that provides value and entertainment for your audience. Pay attention to what they engage with most, and do more of that. And just have fun!