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Instagram Strategies for Bars and Restaurants

In today’s food and beverage landscape, social media is simply no longer considered “optional.” After all — there’s a reason there are so many Instagram influencers that focus on alcoholic c beverages today. Social media is one of the most important marketing tools for restaurants and bars. Properly utilizing social media channels allows your business to interact with patrons even when they aren’t at your establishment — growing brand awareness and guest loyalty. 

Social media marketing is also one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies available, provided you can properly execute your social media strategy. In this article, we will be sharing some tips and tricks on how your bar or restaurant can make the most of its Instagram account.

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Stay On Brand

Your restaurant’s Instagram page is an extension of the restaurant itself. It is important to remember this and keep it in mind while creating Instagram content. Make sure that your content is on-brand and accurately reflects the creative vision behind your establishment. 

Social media can be an opportunity to reinforce and strengthen your brand with the public. It is important to take advantage of this opportunity. If you have worked with a creative agency on your restaurant in the past, make sure to get them involved as you develop your Instagram account.

Don’t Only Show Photos of Food!

Everyone loves a great food picture but you have to remember that your restaurant isn’t just the food that you serve. If you own a cocktail bar, the same can be said for your drinks. 

We suggest regularly publishing pictures of your establishment’s ambiance, décor, or even back-of-house areas. This will help showcase the entire experience of your restaurant to potential patrons. It would be going too far to say never post pictures of food, but make sure your content is diverse and reflective of your entire establishment.


Create a Restaurant Hashtag

Hashtags are an efficient way to index similar content from many different users. By creating a hashtag for your restaurant or bar, you are creating an interactive space for your customers. If you want to drill down to specific drinks, you can even make alcohol or cocktail hashtags. 

Customers can then create content with your hashtag and explore other users’ experiences in your restaurant. Potential patrons can also view your hashtag to get a glimpse of your restaurant. Keep in mind, however, that this could be a double-edged sword. If anything goes wrong at your restaurant, it could be shared under your hashtag! 

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Be Consistent

Consistency is key with many things—social media included. Posting sparingly or randomly is generally considered to be detrimental to your social media success. High-quality social media channels feature new content several times a week if not every day. It is important to regularly appear on your subscribers’ feeds. Additionally, most social media algorithms value consistent posting over a long period of time. Instagram specifically recommends its users post 3 to 7 times per week.

Know Your Audience

Consistency is key... but so is knowing your audience. When you discover who your audience is, you can focus your social media posts to reach them. Categories like age, gender, interests, spending power and patterns, are key data points to consider. Once you understand this, you can start creating social posts that will provide value for your audience.  

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Engage with Your Customers

Instagram is not simply a place to show off. It also is a platform designed for interacting with your audience. To stay relevant in the minds of your viewers, be sure to regularly interact with comments and posts. This helps to integrate you into the local community while also building a personal relationship with your customers. If you see your establishment featured in a post, make a comment or leave a like. This is great brand-building and can even help with overall brand awareness.

Plan Ahead

The holiday season is always a busy time and that goes for social media as well! Social media traffic spikes up to 73% during the holidays. Whether people are looking for events to attend, holiday sales or inspiration for a holiday cocktail, don't miss reaching your target audience. Get ahead of the hustle and bustle by creating and scheduling out your social media posts in advance.


Create Contests and Campaigns

Contests and campaigns offer great opportunities for user interaction. As we mentioned above, Instagram is a place to do just that: interact. Instagram-based giveaways are an excellent way to boost user interaction and brand loyalty. An average of more than 34% of new customers are acquired through contests. Consider giving away gift cards or merchandise via your social media channels. We also suggest posting content that prompts user response, such as a picture that features a question to be answered.  

Show Your Audience Behind the Scenes

Instagram is a great opportunity for giving customers an inside scoop. Not only can you show your front-of-house operations, but you can also show your subscribers how it all gets done. This will be authentically interesting to loyal customers and potential new visitors alike. It can also help build a personal connection to your establishment. In today’s world, people love transparency. Utilize Instagram to provide subscribers with this type of behind-the-scenes content. 

Show Pride in Your Community

Being an active member of your community is always a good thing. Restaurants are no exception to this rule. We suggest participating in local events and fairs as a way to integrate your establishment into the local community. This builds the long-term brand loyalty that so many of us are after. As you do these things, do not be shy about them on social media. This will allow people who aren’t at the events to appreciate what your restaurant is contributing to their community. 


Feature Employees

This next tip is a win-win Instagram strategy. Featuring interviews or brief bios of your employees allows users to form a personal connection with your establishment. It can also help employees feel appreciated for the work that they do. We suggest featuring high-performing employees along with a few brief questions about themselves. Customers love transparency and employees love feeling seen. Consider this strategy alongside other performance-based incentives for your workers. 

Invest in Good Photos

Last, but certainly not least, your Instagram content needs to be high quality. Your photographs should be well-lit and well-composed. Ideally, there is an employee on your team who knows how to make this happen. If not, we strongly suggest hiring a social media manager. This person can create top-quality Instagram content and publish it in a way that maximizes your Instagram presence. Social media marketing is a serious tool in the restaurant playbook, and in some cases, it may require a bit of investment. Spending those extra couple of dollars will ultimately come back to your restaurant in the form of publicity, public relations, and brand awareness. 

There was a time when social media was not considered a serious tool. Those days have come and gone. Today, social media is simply vital for the success of any business. It is critical to properly execute your social media strategy. Use these tips and tricks to take your restaurant or bar’s social media game to the next level.

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Maddy Darby


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