If you've read our previous blog on reaching your customer audience through social media, you're already aware of the importance of Instagram and Facebook in expanding your business. Now that you've created your Instagram (or Facebook) page, it's time to start posting. But how do you navigate all the different features of these platforms and use the right tools to expand your Instagram audience?
This article will present you with the best tips on how to create, share, and use Instagram stories to your business’s advantage.
What are Instagram stories?
Instagram introduced stories a little over two years ago, and since then, they have dominated the digital space with all types of content. Instagram stories can act as an excellent point of interaction with your customers. Instagram Stories are a feature that allows users to share short, temporary videos or photos with their followers. These stories appear at the top of users' Instagram feeds and are available for 24 hours before disappearing.
With stories, you can achieve things such as getting feedback, fundraise, by adding a donation sticker to your story, research your audience through their insights, and most importantly, maintaining a connection with your customers so they choose you over a restaurant without a strong Instagram presence.
One of the most useful features of Instagram stories is highlights. They are a relatively new feature and serve as an archive of a story you have created. You can sort them into categories, allowing you to create a holistic brand presentation for new arrivals to your Instagram page. To create a highlight, tap the "New" button under your profile, select the stories you want to include, and choose a cover image. For example, if your restaurant has a social media campaign to engage customers with your menu, you can create separate highlights that tell the story of that campaign. This is important because if a potential customer stumbles upon your restaurant, they can go to that highlight and be convinced that you are delivering on your mission of collaboration, which is something your customers find important.
Let’s look at an example of a restaurant business successfully using highlights to inform and engage its audience.
Piadaitalianstreetfood is doing highlights in a great way because they are arranging all of their activities (read stories) into categories and if a person, interested in Italian street food was to visit their account, they can go through the different offerings and make their choice.
Polls, quizzes, and organic feedback collection that strengthens your relationship with your tribe
A customer in the digital realm (especially the food influencer) has a lot of opinions and can also be a valuable asset, allowing you to collect information that can help you improve your service. This brings us to another set of tools you can find while creating your stories.
The poll option, will allow you to collect information from your audience for example, “what kind of specials would you like to see on the menu next?” You can also pose questions that relate to your restaurant’s mission statement (if you have sustainability at your heart you might want to ask your audience if they feel your business is doing a good job in sustainability).
Another great little tool worth mentioning is LinkTree, a social media reference landing page tool. Linktree allows you to have a little gallery that can signpost your customers to different links on your website. For example, if your restaurant has a special event or offer that is only accessible through a third-party website, like Eventbrite, you can attach the link to Linktree and add it to your bio for your customer to browse. That can additionally give them an insight into the rest of your offers, granting you a returning customer.
What content should I produce and how often should I post?
Now that we have looked at the different features a useful tip will be to look at a couple of accounts that have a successful following and see how you can engage your audience in a similar way.
You know your business best and this is the level you want to keep your audience at as well, meaning keeping them informed on important milestones for the business, including all news that is worthwhile sharing. According to Wix, one should share from 15-30 stories per day.
This is strictly personal of course and will depend on the size and nature of your restaurant. Our recommendation would be to plan stories thematically, according to what you would like to present.
- Planning your story
Creating a scheduling plan can be the best solution for your business. Just planning what you would like to show your audience will give you an advantage over businesses that rely on pure quantity over quality approach. But spontaneous sharing of shared moments between team members and clients for example can be just as useful as this allows for people to get behind the scenes but also strengthen and personalise the relationship with your audience.
- Create a hashtag campaign
Do you think any of your regulars would be happy to share a picture of their meal?
It might be quite a useful idea for your audience engagement, and this is how. If you create a hashtag, say #GelatoSundays, and announce a giveaway for your customers, they can share a picture of their meal tagging your restaurant with the same hashtag. This way you are getting more exposure and under that same hashtag, you can find all the posts, allowing you to choose a winner of the giveaway but also learn more about potential customers and gain new followers.
- Geotagging and hashtag research
Lastly, use the power of customers tagging you in their posts, but also do your hashtag research so you can place your restaurant on the digital realm map as well. Let’s look at an example of what that means, #newyorkmeals will be a less popular hashtag but will be targeted at people who eat out in New York, making it easier for people to find your profile and perhaps try your restaurant out because they are in the area.
And finally, do not overthink posting too much, just explore what options you have, have a play around and soon stories will be a natural part of your business’s online presence.
We've explored the potential of Instagram stories for expanding your business's audience. By using highlights to create a comprehensive brand presentation, polls and quizzes to engage with your audience, and Linktree to signpost your customers to different parts of your website, you can strengthen your social media strategy. We've also discussed the importance of planning your stories thematically, creating hashtag campaigns, and using geotagging and hashtag research to help place your restaurant on the digital realm map. Remember to not overthink posting and explore your options.
We have a range of other blogs that offer important insights into social media marketing and management, as well as tips and tricks for improving your social media presence and making money as a nano-influencer.
Don't forget to check out our free web-app, ttagz, if you're looking to capture more user-generated content, increase engagement, and drive brand awareness.