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Instagram: The essential social media platform for cafes

Social media is a vital marketing tool for today’s café owner, and in particular Instagram. Here’s why and how Instagram can help grow your hospitality small business.

Instagram-the essential social media platform for cafes

Social media is a vital marketing tool for today’s café owner, and in particular Instagram.

This photo sharing app has doubled its reach since 2013 and shows no sign of slowing. Here’s why and how Instagram can help grow your business.

It’s visual

A picture tells a thousand words, and Instagram is a global community built on the power of visual storytelling. Looking at beautiful pictures of delicious food can influence customers to try somewhere new, or keep them coming back.

People eat with their eyes as well as their mouths. Social Media Examiner hails Instagram as a key way “for driving foot traffic to your business.” A sumptuous image on Instagram is a great way of making your customers hungry.

Co-owner of Glover’s Station in Melbourne’s Elsternwick, Mary-Jane Daffy, says that their patrons don’t order from the menu but from Instagram, “they scroll through [the feed] and the photo that looks best, and that’s what they order,” says Daffy.

Everyone’s on it

According to Social Media News, more than 20 per cent of Australia’s population are spending their time on Instagram. They reported five million active users as of January 2016 – a pool of potential patrons that’s essential to engage with – and far too large to ignore.

If you’ve been slow to embrace the platform, you may find yourself having to play catch up with more socially savvy competitors. According to the latest Sensis Social Media Report, Instagram is used by 60 per cent of hospitality businesses. If you don’t have an active Instagram profile, you may be losing out on potential business to your competition.

It entices new consumers

For a growing number of Australian customers, being able to look at a venue on Instagram before they set foot in the door will determine whether or not they choose to visit a particular café.

Increase your chance of being their first choice. Share some enticing Instagram images which offer them the opportunity to try (virtually) before they buy. It also pays to add the location of your café to your images. Along with hashtag search, geolocation is one of the top ways Instagram users search for images across the platform. Tagging your suburb will ensure your business is noticed by potential customers searching the location tag.

Instagram competitions are also an easy way to entice new customers and ensure repeat business. Keep it simple. Giving potential customers the chance to win a free coffee in exchange for them uploading a photo with your cafe’s hashtag is a simple exercise for increasing foot traffic.

Showcase your culture

As well as the food, customers are looking for an experience to share with friends. Don’t just sell your venue as somewhere to eat. Mastered Marketing director Mitch Hills says using Instagram to share stories can increase customer loyalty. Introduce the barista. Share images from staff events. Showcase the day-to-day activities of your business and bring it to life. This will help customers feel more connected with your café and nurture repeat patronage.

Spruik your specials

Offering the right blend of old and new dishes helps keep all types of patrons coming back. Instagram is a fast and effective way to show your regulars that it’s time to swing by and sample something new.

Village on Cloey, in Sydney’s Clovelly, uses Instagram to let its followers know what’s on the specials menu each week. This showcases the innovative side of the business, while regular posting helps to develop a strong relationship with followers.

Village’s co-owner, Diogo Ferreira, says running Instagram promotions and specials boosts business and provides more opportunities to engage with clients.

Low cost advertising

The cost of traditional media advertising campaigns – like television and radio- can be very expensive. It’s big budget stuff that’s beyond the reach of most standalone café operators.

Collect a crowd of hungry followers on Instagram and they’ll do the advertising for you, minus the price tag. Make it easy for patrons to tag you in their latest foodie posts by incorporating your Instagram handle in menus and signage.

This strategy has worked well for Sarah Hendriks, owner of popular Porch and Parlour in North Bondi. Instagram is the venue’s main marketing tool. It is used to post photos of patrons and local scenery, as well as dishes from the menu.

Sharing beautiful images has helped the café collect 28,000 followers, many of whom have become regular customers.

Lessons to note

Instagram has become a huge part of the ‘foodie’ culture in Australia and overseas. If you’re not on the platform, you’re missing out on a marketing opportunity which your competitors may be making the most of.

Take advantage of Instagram to boost your turnover by ensuring your venue is first choice for more customers, more often.

If you’d like to enjoy greater returns by investing in social media and need some funds to cover the costs, contact Prospa about a small business loan.

The information in this post is provided for general information only and does not take into account your personal situation. Nothing contained in this post constitutes advice or an endorsement or recommendation of any kind by Prospa. Any links to third party websites are strictly for informational purposes only. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from financial, legal and taxation advisors. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information as at the date of publication, Prospa, its officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded), for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information for any reason, including due to the passage of time, or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.