Instagram has always been something I don’t really like very much. Praised by Social Media experts worldwide, and with a huge following, Instagram has been a powerhouse in the Social Media world for a long time.
Despite the fact it’s not a bad thing to have for a business, I have personally just never found it to get the results that I would expect, considering how highly some Social Media marketers praise it. Bear in mind that this is just the opinion of someone who has run Social Media successfully for a huge range of different restaurants. As an opinion, it does not mean I am correct, rather I have just noticed a consistent pattern in which Instagram has performed very poorly, mainly compared to Facebook, my area of expertise.
Instagram has two areas that I believe it excels in, modelling and art. People who are capable of creating amazing images or getting fantastic photographs can do really well out of it. Restaurants can get a fantastic amount of public approval on Instagram with many likes and reactions, especially compared to a site like Facebook, with which the reactions tend to be on a much smaller scale, so what’s the problem?
Instagram is a place where people go to look at photographs and images. They scroll through, liking what they like, and ignoring the things they don’t. They might like a picture of your food, you might get a thousand likes on that picture, but if none of it results in paying customers, then what are the likes really worth? It just means people liked the image you put up. As with many Social Media platforms, it doesn’t even mean they’re local. You could have 1000 Australians loving your food pictures every day, but they’re the other side of the Earth and unlikely to pop in for dinner.
I have run campaigns and tests on Instagram for a fair few restaurants using a variety of different offers, techniques and following recommendations from some of the best in the business. The accounts I have managed have been of all different sizes, and one thing remains the same. If I put out an Instagram only offer, it’s never had anyone claim it. I have run some fantastic Instagram only offers, offers a person would have to be insane to not want to go with, combined with some fairly decent photography on my part. Still no results. Facebook on the other hand has been hugely successful, with people coming in even if they don’t react to the post.
So maybe I’m not an Instagram master with every post resulting in thousands of pounds going to the business, customers being turned away at the door due to the restaurant being packed. It could be possible that somewhere out there there is someone who has this level of skill, but for all the marketers I have spoken to, I have yet to find someone who has had positive results for restaurants with Instagram. There have been people with thousands of likes on their posts, but no real financial results from the platform.
The thing is, as business owners, we have to be smart about the places we dedicate ourselves to, and put our time and money into. Good Instagram posts and photos may help your business look good – if people look you up on Instagram. If people are on your site and they want to see your work, they’ll check out your gallery and possibly your Instagram to see the food you make. That’s good, and it might result in a potential customer, so it’s a good thing to have because of its potential. But if you don’t have Instagram and you have a website, you will most likely have a gallery, and photos up on Google My Business, TripAdvisor and Facebook for when people look you up.
Practically, putting out a deal or a special offer on Instagram does not seem to have a positive effect. The majority of business owners tend to put the same offer up across the board, so a deal will go out on every single platform. Try running a jaw dropping offer on Instagram and see how well it does if you want an example of it’s effectiveness. If the platform is useful, you will see results, and it’s the best way to find out if it’s helping you.
You may find that actually Instagram does work for you, and these are just the thoughts of someone who has never had success with the platform. If that’s the case, please contact me. I’d be interested in seeing how it’s helped your restaurant or takeaway. My personal thoughts are: If you have to put something out, I’ve never gone wrong with Facebook. The best thing you can do to test it’s effectiveness is put out an offer people can’t refuse only on Instagram, and see if someone comes in to claim it.
I hope this is useful to you. Despite working with restaurants for years providing Social Media services, it is possible that I may be wrong about Instagram. My advice is to focus on Facebook as it is my experience that you will get the best results on that platform.
I’m a social media marketing specialist based in Wivenhoe, the CEO of Fantasoft and wannabe space adventurer.