Using this social network can help you reach many guests and drive more visits.

With 600 million ‘grammers and counting, Instagram is a restaurant marketing platform that simply can’t be ignored. If you think this social media outlet is just a platform for pretty images, think again. Between newly unveiled features like Instagram stories, Instagram slideshows, and promoted posts, there’s a whole new world of possibilities opening up.

Here we’ll cover a couple of these new features, plus some tried and true ideas, like sharing user-generated content and restaurant updates to help successful restaurateurs effectively market their eateries.

Show (and Tell) a Customer’s Story

With this year’s addition of the Instagram story, the social media site took a cue from Snapchat’s success and incorporated a new way for users to share and view moments throughout the day. According to IG, the feature allows you to, “share multiple photos and videos [that] appear together in a slideshow format: your story.” Include as many posts as you like, then add text and drawing tools to spice up your message. Use it to showcase your specials, show a customer’s reaction to tasting something new, or invite followers backstage.

Take Guests Behind the Scenes

Unless your restaurant has an open concept, most guests are unlikely to see the inside of your kitchen. Show them where the magic happens in a short video or post. Highlight your star chef making her signature dish or snap a beautiful shot of all the colorful produce you receive on shipment days.

Share GIFs and Memes

By some estimates, Americans share more than 23 million GIFs across the Internet each day. Why? This highly entertaining visual content is quick to ingest and easily conveys emotion. You can easily find thousands of GIFs using online libraries, like

Repost Their Content

Sharing user-generated content is a wonderful way to engage your followers and show them some love. Re-posting that amazing shot guests took of your dessert tower not only organically builds a relationship, the 15-minutes of fame is sure to have them smiling. Just make sure to credit them appropriately by tagging the user and thanking them in the copy.

Make Them Laugh

More than anything, Instagram is a welcomed escape from the daily grind. Where Facebook can be saturated with politics and articles, IG is home to cute kitties, sunny selfies and fantastic food. Give your customers a nice chuckle and incorporate some feel-good content in advance of their next meal.

Talk About Restaurant Changes

Be it an update about your holiday hours or descriptions of a menu change, IG is a great opportunity to keep guests informed.

Promote your Content

No matter what amount of money you have in your ad spend budget, there’s an Instagram promotion for you. Set whatever duration and dollar amount you want to promote your photos, videos, or a carousel of images to your target audience. For less than $50 you can reach up to 9,000 to 25,000 followers over the course of seven days. Learn more about advertising your business on IG.

Not on Instagram? Now is the time to set up your account. Plus, can you really afford not to market to more than half a billion people? 

Expert Takes, Feature