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 In Marketing

Social media is a vital marketing tool for today’s café owner.

Consider focusing on Instagram, the photo sharing app that has doubled its reach since 2013 and shows no sign of slowing.

Here’s how it can help grow your hospitality 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 Elsternwick, Mary-Jane Daffy, says Instagram has changed how cafes approach the creation of brunch dishes. She notes that their patrons don’t order from the menu but from Instagram, “they scroll through [the feed] and the photo that looks best, that’s what they order,” says Daffy.

Everyone’s on it

According to Social Media News, more than 20 per cent of the 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 your establishment’s 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 by sharing some enticing Instagram images that offer the opportunity to try (virtually) before you 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 – a simple exercise for increasing foot traffic is to give potential customers the chance to win a free coffee in exchange for them uploading a photo of your food plus your cafe’s hashtag.

Showcase your culture

As well as the food, customers are also looking for an experience to share with friends. Instagram enables you to engage with them more deeply by sharing the stories behind your business. Rather than just selling your venue as somewhere to eat, showcasing the day-to-day activities of your business can help bring it to life by revealing personality,

Mastered Marketing director Mitch Hills says using Instagram to share stories can increase customer loyalty. Introducing the barista who is responsible for turning out the coffee, and sharing images from staff events, can help customers feel more connected with your café and nurture repeat patronage.

Spruik your specials

Successful café owners know 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 strategy showcases the innovative side of the business, while a regular posting schedule helps to develop a strong relationship with followers.

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

Low cost advertising

The cost of traditional media advertising campaigns – like television and radio- can fast run into tens of thousands of dollars. It’s big budget stuff that’s well beyond the reach of most standalone café operators.

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

It’s a strategy which has worked well for Sarah Hendriks who owns the popular Porch and Parlour in North Bondi. Instagram is the venue’s main marketing tool and 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 that your competitors will probably be making the most of.

Harnessing the immediacy and appeal of Instagram makes sound sense for café owners. Boost your turnover by ensuring your venue is first choice for more customers, more often.

If you’d like to enjoy greater returns by bringing your venue up to social media speed, and need some funds to cover the costs, have a look at more info about Prospa’s small business loan or call our friendly team on 1300 882 867.



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