The Influence of Instagram on the Restaurant Industry Part 2: Preparing Your Restaurant for Food Photography

When we last left off, we were discussing the rise of influencers on Instagram, and how they are using their accounts to showcase restaurants in their preferred niches through paid and unpaid partnerships. We went over the importance of zeroing in on your niche (eg. foodie, coffee shop, or health-based) so you know the specific crowd you’d like to attract when designing or adjusting your restaurant to attract more customer-generated content. Whether you’re running an established restaurant or just getting started,  there are small aesthetic things you can do to your restaurant interiors and food-fare that will get customers Instagramming their time with you. Then, you can draw them in as followers, and eventually grab your followers’ audience as well. As you think through these tips, constantly return to the central question, “What would make someone want to take a picture of this?”

Restaurant Interiors

Restaurant interiors provide a beautiful backdrop for food photography in all niches, but can also stand alone as an engaging picture without food in the foreground.  While it is not always possible to have a restaurant bursting with natural sunlight, taking advantage of the light and windows you do have is a huge plus. Many food photography enthusiasts will often search for the best lit table to photograph their food and natural light can do wonders for opening up a room. Consider places tables as close to your windows as possible. If you don’t have natural light,  or only operate in the evening, you can use candles and lamps to boost the light on your tables.

Coffee shops, especially, should consider tabletop composition for photography, as many people will take photos of their coffee and pastries from overhead. Marble tops and wood textures are popular backdrops for these types of photos (hint: if you don’t own tables with these textures, you can purchase sticky paper that looks almost like the real thing, and press it on to a table lightly to see how you like it). One last thing to consider for your interiors is plants, plants, and more plants. If one thing is for certain about the Instagram community, it’s that the people love their plants.

Food Styling

Food styling, or the way your food is plated when it is served to a customer, is especially important for the health-influencer crowd, but food photographers of all sorts will appreciate well-plated food. When it comes to dishes such as creative salads, and inventive food bowls, foodies will be looking to showcase all of the different healthful ingredients a dish has to offer. To take advantage of this, consider arranging a bowl or plate by separating the ingredients into sections, like these bowls from Jugos Supremo, and by CHLOE., two brands that have mastered their food styling. Feature all of the colors and ingredients in your food by sectioning them off in an aesthetically pleasing manner (fill your bowl with bright greens and plate all of the tomatoes together, the carrots together, etc. on top) and your patrons will be inclined to show off their meals on their Instagram accounts.

instagram, LevelUp, Customer data, CRM, Mobile Ordering, Order Ahead

Unique Fare

instagram, LevelUp, Customer data, CRM, Mobile Ordering, Order AheadWhat makes your fare stand out from the rest? Do you offer a playful or unique dish that can only be purchased at your location? If so, market and promote this dish heavily in your restaurant (in the form of menu imagery, or by mentioning the dish to your patrons when they are seated) to encourage others to purchase it. Unique food dishes, much like the aesthetically-pleasing entrees mentioned above, are a huge motivator for the foodie-crowd to visit your location and share the food on their social media. Double Chin in Boston has a cubed french toast dessert (below) that is completely unique to their restaurant.

Tourists and locals alike will venture out to visit Double Chin, get the wildly original dessert, and share it on their Instagram accounts. It is the perfect dish to share with their followers in that it is not only delicious-looking but original to the restaurant and topped with bright and colorful candies that make the dish appear playful. If you don’t have a dish like this, or the time to create a new menu item, add some flair to your existing items. It can be as simple as adding food coloring to your bakery items, or taking your avocado toast dish to the next level. Keep up with popular food trends by reading foodie publications such as Delish (or subscribing to our blog here!) and figure out ways you can implement these trends in your menu offerings.

(photo courtesy of @doublechinBos on Instagram)

Small adjustments in your restaurant interiors, and adding a little pizazz to a few dishes can go a long way when you are looking to attract foodies who will want to share their experience on their social media channels. When these patrons share their experiences, they will attract their followers to your location, who will hopefully repeat the cycle. Before you know it, you will have a network of customers who heard of your restaurant from none other than Instagram itself. That said, what if you want to take it one step further, and arrange a formal partnership with a professional Instagram influencer in your area? Stay tuned for our third and final part in our Influence of Instagram on the Restaurant Industry series to learn how to develop an influencer partnership, and why it’s beneficial to your brand.

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Jenna Calderara

Jenna Calderara

Jenna Calderara is the Social Media and Community Manager on the Marketing Team at LevelUp. She is also a big fan of soup. When she’s not at work she enjoys cooking, blogging, and trying new Boston-area restaurants. If you’re interested in seeing pictures of breakfast, follow her on Instagram @jennacalderara or on Twitter @jenrara for daily musings.

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