Social media and its impact on our lives is a big subject – especially when it comes to catering. The Instagram effect on restaurants has been a hot topic for a few years, with many conflicting views on whether it’s good for business. We take a look at both sides of the argument and whether making your restaurant and food more ‘Insta-friendly’ is beneficial for business.

The Experience

It’s all about the experience. The biggest effect Instagram has on restaurants is the experience that can now be offered to diners. There are restaurants that cater for customers who want to escape technology and reconnect with their friends or families, who do so by following the ‘no tech‘ policies at the restaurant and leaving their phones in their bags. There are also restaurants who cater for those who want to share their dining experience with the world, these customers are encouraged to snap a picture by the jaw-dropping plate presentation, decoration or photographable features in the restaurant. Some establishments have also begun to train staff to take the perfect Instagram picture for diners.

Sketch is one of Londons most instagram friendly restaurants

Sketch London – one of the most Instgrammable restaurants in the city.

What do these two experiences have in common? They are spoken about and discussed at length between friends in person and on, you’ve guessed it, social media.

Creating a buzz around the unique experience a restaurant has to offer on a platform like Instagram can be beneficial for business. Some popup bars, restaurants and cafes have managed to spark interest and bring customers to their door with their very own elusive, private club posts on Instagram.

Broken & Repaired cocktail bar's instagram profile which is set to privateA cocktail with a biscuit floating on top

A secret, members-only cocktail bar in Portsmouth has been shared and publicised on Instagram with great success.

Others have concentrated on their Instagram worthy interior, spending time and money on creating the perfect picture spot where anyone who is anyone must have their photograph taken.

A word of caution though – some businesses have been so swept up in the Instagram effect that they have compromised the flavour of their dishes for presentation, which initially bought customers to the door, but did not see them returning for more.

A photograph of a burger

American Chef Alvin Cailas is done with Instagram dishes and compromising on flavour.

Free Publicity

The Instagram effect is an incredibly powerful tool for restaurants and catering businesses to reach new pools of customers without spending a penny. If the interior, exterior, food, bathroom or furniture in a restaurant is being photographed and posted to Instagram – people are talking about it. If those pictures are accompanied by a gushing caption about an amazing night out, they even have the power to bring new customers to the business.

It’s the digital equivalent of recommending a place to eat to a friend. Some restaurants are using the tool to reach out to Instagram Influencers and inviting them to dine for free in the hope that they will snap away and share the business with their followers.

A screen shot of The Body Coaches instagram account which shows the front of the restaurant UNA in Richmond

Recently, The Body Coach, Joe Wicks visited a restaurant and shared it on his Instagram account – the results for the business in Richmond have been incredible.

Restaurants can also help themselves reach new potential customers by running competitions on Instagram. It’s easily done at a very low cost, customers can win a free meal or percentage off their next meal by taking a picture and posting it to Instagram – the best picture wins the prize!

Again, a cautionary tale – social media can be the making and breaking of a business. It’s important that every aspect of your restaurant or catering business meets your customers expectations. Negative posts and pictures can be damaging and will also reach new pools of potential customers.

Learn About Customers

A business can learn a lot about it’s customers by using Instagram. From understanding what customers want from the experience of dining out, to what it is about their business that is specifically exciting to their current customer base. Instagram holds a lot of information that can be very helpful.

If a restaurant wants a successful and busy future, they need to think about the next generation of customer, who are tech savvy and will be researching the best places to eat on social media platforms. These new customers will ultimately be swayed to visit a business by the appearance of them on platforms such as Instagram.

Fun fact: 69% of millennial diners take a photo of their food before eating it.

In conclusion, using any tools you have to share information about your restaurant will be a benefit to business but, much like everything else in the world of catering – everything needs to be right. Concentrating too much on how you appear on Instagram and social media and letting other aspects of your business slip as a consequence can quickly turn the benefits into negatives.

If you want to talk to a member of our team about restaurant design, you can do so right here.