Through the Cooking Glass: Why your Restaurant needs to be Online

October 19, 2016

Which came first, the Blogger Chick or the Poached egg?

It’s the age old question that’s been wondered for generations – well, at least it is for Melbourne foodies. Once upon a time it was enough for a Melbourne cafe to post a mildly aesthetic photo of a dish, scattered in edible flowers and bright colours, to gain what can only described as a cult following (@TopPaddock and those hotcakes, I’m looking at you). Even a simple Google search reveals several blog posts that rave about the notable dish, but more so the ‘Instagram-worthiness’ of its floral embellishments and dusted sugar. The same can be said for Naughty Boy cafe’s Instashakes, one of the first cafes that drove the Melbourne #freakshake trend of 2015 – the trend that single handedly massacred thousands of summer diets.

Naughty Boy cafe's Instashake that dominated Instagram newsfeeds
(Credit: @Melbxrn)

But would these trends have been created without the backing of likes, comments and regrams from their Instagram followers? In short, no – probably not. With Instagram boasting the highest rate of brand engagement at 4.21% per follower, this statistic is put further into perspective considering Twitter and Facebook are less than 0.1%. For Australian users, the food industry itself is the fourth highest followed interest, with 36% of Australia’s 3.5 million user base being active engagers. Although other factors come into play, it’s a no-brainer to consider that a platform heavily reliant on images and aesthetics is a sure fire way to drive customers through your doors, wielding smartphone in hand asking ‘omg what dish is THIS?’.

So what should your cafe/restaurant do to capitalise on this? 

1. Focus on Quality posts, don’t post for the sake of posting

This isn’t a rule specific to cafe’s, but all business’ Instagram accounts. The ultimate rationale behind each post is to provide value to your audience. This could be an informative post promoting a new menu item, asking customers what flavours they want to see more of, or generally giving greater insight into your eatery – allowing the customer to feel more included (meet the staff, behind the scenes, kitchen snaps).

2. Encourage @Mentions in the comments

Never forget that Instagram is called a social network for a reason. It’s a way for friends/acquaintances/people-you’ve-spoken-to-like-twice-but-they-follow-you-anyways to engage with one another. Asking your audience to tag a friend in the comments can have an exponential impact on your follower count.

3. Don’t underestimate the impact of captions
This may seem basic, but always be clear and purposeful with your captions. Instagram is primarily used by smartphone holders, meaning browsing is largely done during commutes or whilst engaged in other activities (like a sneaky scroll during the Bachelorette commercials #guilty). Again it boils down to adding value to the reader.
Remember Instagram captions aren’t designed to redirect off-site, so refrain from posting URL’s in the caption.

Credit: @LtOsteria
(Credit: @LtOsteria)

4. The ‘Business Profile’ function and inputting a location
Business Profiles are the newest function Instagram implemented in recognition of the popularised use of the platform by brands. Business Profiles provide those few extra functions including ‘Contact’ – encompassing direction information’s, phone number and email. Instagram will also provide an ‘Insights’ page that details the no. of impressions, reach from your posts, no. of website clicks etc. Furthermore it can detail the characteristics of your followers from age, location, and gender. For your eatery, this may be useful to see if your audience is desirable (those actually located in Melbourne), and tailor your marketing tactics to alter or maintain this segment.

For many Melbourne restaurants and cafes whose concealed locations actually add to it’s novelty, providing a location will prove valuable.

5. Some more interesting stats to consider:

  • According to Sprout Social, blue toned images generate 24% more likes than those that are predominantly red

  • Audiences engage more readily with images with a greater proportion of background, and aren’t too cluttered (aka. It’s time to start flexing those negative space plating skills)

  • Branded hashtags are the most popularly used, so consider creating a personalised hashtag for your business

  • Utilise your users and fans. Dedicated followers generate their own content, taking photos of their favourite dishes from your restaurant and may post testimonies. Repost these, quote their experience, and thank them for dining with you. Not only do user-generated photos have 4.5% higher chance of conversion, these followers act as ambassadors, and shouldn’t be overlooked
The gang at Milkbar Digital love working with Melbourne restaurants and cafes on their Instagram and Facebook pages. If you need help with your social media marketing strategies and execution, be sure to get in touch today.
Valerie Duong is the social media coordinator at Milkbar Digital. She has a particular interest in standing-up-for-food-flatlays, obscure coffee orders and Instagram captioning pop-culture references nobody gets.

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