Selfies, hashtags, and mentions all make the social media world go round. And your restaurant can take advantage of this world and all its benefits. But Instagram success doesn’t happen on its own. That’s why we wanted to share some expert Instagram tips for restaurants that will help you succeed in making your space truly Instagrammable.

In this article, we will discuss why Instagram is important, how to make your restaurant more Instagrammable, and some real-life examples of these Instagram tips for restaurants in action.

What does it mean to be Instagrammable? This is a subtle way to encourage customers to post about your restaurant on Instagram. It could be something about your drinks, meals, décor, or even a cheeky sign that makes people laugh.

Whatever it is, it makes people take out their phones for a photo opportunity.

But, before we get into how to do this, let’s talk about why you want people to do this in the first place.

Why You Should Think About Creating an Instagrammable Atmosphere

A few years ago, it was considered bad manners to pull out your phone and take pictures during a meal. It may have even annoyed you.

But now, it’s much more mainstream — and, it actually works in your favor.


Whenever customers Instagram about your restaurant, it’s essentially free advertising.

And this type of advertising is one of the most powerful tactics you could hope to employ.

Think about it…

When someone posts about your restaurant on Instagram, their followers are more likely to stop and view their post than a sponsored post that you paid to promote. After all, they can be 100% confident that their friend’s post is honest and sincere.

Related Content: Instagram for Restaurants: 8 Tips to Boost Your Strategy

And if the person uses hashtags in their post, it has the potential to reach many more outside of their immediate network.

This basic concept is not new. It is referred to as word-of-mouth marketing — using your customers to spread the word about your brand.

And this works whether someone has 200 followers or 2,000!

So now that we understand why this works for your restaurant, let’s consider 5 expert tips that can help you to create the perfect, Instagrammable atmosphere.

10 Instagram Tips for Restaurants That Will Help You Attract More Attention

1. Make Your Dishes Pop

Since the beginning of Instagram, food photos have been a mainstay of the network. People love to post pictures of food that they enjoy, especially if it stands out in some way. This might be because of the presentation, the color, or some other whimsical detail.

Related Content: Food Photography Tips: How to Take Better Photos for Your Restaurant

What can you do to make sure your dishes fit this bill? Here are a few things to keep in mind…

  • Use colors that pop.
  • Don’t overload your plates.
  • Make sure your plates are pristine.
  • Use contrasting colors in your dishes.
  • Create dishes and cocktails that reflect seasonal themes, such as red for Valentine’s Day or pumpkin for fall.

2. Consider Your Lighting

Your lighting can really make or break an Instagram photo.

If your lighting is inadequate, selfies and photos of your food could come out looking drab and boring. The right lighting, on the other hand, has the power to enhance any photo. And the better the photos, the more likely they’ll end up on the Gram!

Here are a few keys to bringing your lighting game up to par…

  • Use as much natural light as possible — there really is no substitute!
  • Distribute your light evenly so as not to cast a shadow.
  • Install lights with a dimmer switch or another way to control the brightness — this gives you ultimate control, no matter the time of day.
  • Test your lighting by taking pictures from all angles.

3. Include Instagrammable Features Throughout

Besides the food itself, you can include Instagram-worthy features throughout your restaurant.

For example, some eateries have installed special features like an indoor water fountain, indoor swings, couches, and more. Such features make their space unique and worthy of a selfie.

Other places have outdoor features, such as murals, grazing animals, and picturesque patios that also make for great Instagram shots.

Think about what features, both inside and outside, could offer a nice and unique touch to your space.

4. Commit to a Theme

A theme can add that extra layer of complexity to your restaurant.

And it doesn’t have to be complicated. But landing on a simple theme can help you make crucial decisions about your restaurant décor.

Some themes could include…

  • Romantic
  • Quirky
  • Cheeky
  • Fun / Party

You might even pick a more specific theme based on people’s interests. And your restaurant’s location could also affect this. For example, many restaurants around Disney World play on that theme. Those around Niagara Falls will often include subtle nods to that natural landmark.

Once you land on a theme, you can weave it throughout your restaurant décor and dish creation.

5. Hold Hashtag Contests

This tip is a little less subtle but still effective.

First, create a unique, branded hashtag. This could be something like #SippingMyAccousticJava or #TastingATonysTaco.

Set up a certain time period in which to hold the contest, perhaps a week or a month.

Encourage people to post with your branded hashtag and even tag your restaurant in their post.

Create a specific goal for what you want people to post. It could be an interesting, bold, or funny post… Whatever it is, give people an incentive to be creative. Andromote it in your restaurant and even a post on Instagram itself.

At the end of the set time period, review all the posts and pick a winner. And make sure there’s an exciting prize waiting for them, such as a free meal, free drinks, or a sizable discount on their next bill.

This is a great way to encourage your patrons to engage with your brand. And every photo that people share exposes their audience to your restaurant.

Let’s See These Instagram Tips in Action…

1. Pho 99

Take a look at this post of a warm, comforting bowl of pho — and notice that the user tagged the restaurant’s location, letting others know where they could find similar Vietnamese delights.

2. The Boynton

This tasty and attractive pumpkin pie martini earned this restaurant a tag from a very happy customer.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Fe Medeiros (@baddie_hussle)

3. The Friendly Toast

Not only does this eclectic cafe have photogenic food — just check out some of the mouthwatering pics people have taken! — but they also have unique decor, with playful signs, whimsical paintings, and colorful walls that make a perfect Instagram backdrop.

Instagram Tips for Restaurants: Concluding Thoughts

Now that you have these tips, the ball is in your court. With these Instagram tips for restaurants, you can create subtle changes that enhance the dining experience and beg to be Instagrammed.

So, the question remains…

Is your restaurant Instagram-ready yet? If not, now’s the time to do it.

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