How Instagram Marketing Changed the Restaurant Industry

From decorative interiors to food, learn how Instagram has impacted how restaurants market themselves to consumers and other businesses.

Published on 29 August, 2017 | Last modified on 1 November, 2022
Restaurant marketing through instagram 1

Thousands of established restaurants, pop-ups, and newly launched bistros are turning to Instagram to flaunt their decorative wares. From the decorative interiors to the food itself, Instagram has a massive impact on how the restaurant industry markets itself to consumers and other businesses.

Instagram has filtered (see what we did there?) its way into our lives and made our images more beautiful and accessible. Over 40 million photos are uploaded daily, the majority of which are from those under 30. And since Instagram was founded in 2010, 208 million posts have been shared and tagged with the hashtag “food.”

Here’s how the restaurant scene has had to respond:

Interior Design

Spend your weekend here ⬆️

A post shared by TAO Downtown (@taodowntown) on

In the old days, a restaurant could easily rely on simple foot traffic from a carefully placed location to drive sales. These days, even the big hitters that have been around for years need to have an impressive, modern, and inventive interior design in order to compete with the rest.

When your design aspects are truly breathtaking, you’re leaving customers no choice but to take a snap and share it. In short, Instagram has amplified ‘word of mouth’ marketing traditionally used by restaurants. Impress your customers, and it’s a guaranteed win for you both.

How to do it:

Massive, ornate and intricate light fixtures seem to be a sure-fire way that restaurants are impressing on social media.

Creating similarly specific “Instagram-worthy” moments with a well-executed design that aches to be photographed is another method. Other successful features include detailed floor tiles, chandeliers, unique wallpaper, whiteboard menus or even ridiculously decorative cutlery.

One Paris restaurant even went as far as to import tables from Burgundy, clay plates from Peru, and lighting fixtures from Germany. Media Noche, a Cuban restaurant in San Francisco, installed beautiful pink and green floral designed tiles for the venue which serve as a visual anchor for the entire space.

Dish Presentation

Do it for the GRAM #blacktapthat #foodie #eeeeeats #burgers #wings #crazyshake @blacktapdubai

A post shared by Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer (@blacktapnyc) on

Although interior design has become increasingly important, that certainly is no excuse to neglect the food itself; plating is growing in importance as well.

A single image of a dish taken by an influencer reaches tens of thousands in seconds, which means every single customer you serve is an opportunity to get noticed.

How to do it:

Start investing in chic table and glassware or incorporate interesting colors and designs – anything that’s eye catching and noteworthy.

In 2016, the milkshake from Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer in New York hit social media and was truly a masterpiece of color, design, and architecture – making it perfect for social media sharing.

Drinks can equally be dressed up. Mission Chinese Food and The Lucky Bee both impress by using whole coconuts, light bulbs, and brass pineapples in place of glasses.

Fast-food spots are also reaping the benefits, like Chili’s – who changed their serving dishes to stainless steel and opted for a more visually appealing burger bun with impressive results.

Brand Strategy and Recognition

Solid ice game

A post shared by Dante NYC (@dantenewyorkcity) on

While interior design and food presentation are tangible, branding is a somewhat more elusive task to tackle.

First, you have to be clear about what your company’s brand is before you start promoting it. And, it’s difficult to encapsulate everything your brand represents, from how it makes customers feel to your logo, within an Instagram post.

But many restaurants are rising to the challenge. Each dining experience is an opportunity to depict a clear, concise, and potent message about your brand.

How to do it:

Restaurants are increasingly creating bespoke ‘moments’ for their customers to experience when consuming their food, whether it’s specialized cocktails with custom ice carving out the restaurant’s name, like Dante in New York, or Mexican chain Barburrito, which prints its brand logo in silver burrito foil.

Just thought we’d let you know… we can be #Vegan-friendly too by @the_vegan_mermaid #Mexican #Burrito

A post shared by Barburrito (@barburritouk) on

Make something memorable and resonant so that the next time you see your customers taking excessive pictures of their food before they eat, you won’t worry, but celebrate instead.

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Mimeo Marketing Team

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