NOTE: this article was originally published at Food-PR.com, where I am part of a consortium/agency of food public relations and communications pros across the United States. You can find a host of current and helpful articles there, written by expert team members and guest contributors, at www.food-pr.com/blog
Wouldn’t it be great if customers placed ads on behalf of your business? Can you even imagine? Well, in some respects, they already are via their social media channels. Are you seeing them? Responding to them? Making the most of them?
If not, now is the time to make the most of these potentially missed opportunities.
Step One – Get Social on the Insta
If you’re in the food business and you aren’t already on Instagram, you’re missing out.
We’re focusing specifically on Instagram because 1) we don’t see a lot of food brands and food service providers who don’t have a Facebook presence, but we still see many who aren’t on Instagram yet or aren’t utilizing their account much and 2) for the majority of brands in the world of food and beverage, Instagram is the place to be …
Step Two – Monitor and Engage
Your Instagram channel isn’t just a place to tell your story and make people drool over your food or beverages; it’s a place to directly engage with your target audience and build relationships.
Ideally, you’re already monitoring and engaging with comments on your Instagram’s posts. But are you monitoring and engaging with customers when they post their photos of your business on their Instagram feeds and stories?
Doing it Right
Businesses doing it right have someone on their team (either internal or outsourced) who understands their brand, has strong communication skills, has the authority to engage on their brand’s behalf and is charged with monitoring their Instagram regularly.
They’re monitoring when:
- Your brand is directly tagged in an Instagram feed or Instagram story
- Hashtags specific to your brand are used in a post or story
- You receive a direct message
- Your establishment is geo-tagged (if you have a brick and mortar)
They’re responding by:
- Commenting publicly on feed posts
- Commenting directly to Instagram stories
- Commenting directly to direct messages
As a food blogger/influencer, I encounter many brands who do it right and, unfortunately, more who don’t. One “doing it right” example that stands out is Blatt Beer & Table, owned by Flagship Restaurant Group. Last year, I posted a photo of their chicken and waffles on my Instagram and tagged them.
The same day, they commented on my post and, lucky for me, I was entered to win a $10 gift card … and was selected. They not only mailed me the gift card quickly, but they sent me a hand-written thank you note, penned by the same person who had reached out to me (impressive). Additionally, when they reposted my photos, they tagged me and gave me credit (step three below).
Guess what I did with that? I returned to the restaurant, spent considerably more than the $10, took and posted a photo of another delicious dish on my Instagram and tagged them. Once again, they quickly commented on my post, asked for permission to use my photo and gave me photo credit when they did (no, I didn’t win another gift card – ha).
Why does all this matter so much?
Because without an Instagram that’s managed well, when customers tag a food or beverage company on Instagram, the company often has no idea. They’ve lost a valuable opportunity to continue a conversation their customer started.
Don’t pass up your opportunities to build engagement and loyalty with customers via this channel. Instead, embrace and invest in an ongoing Instagram management strategy.
Step Three – Repost
Instagram is a photo-hungry social media channel, and when your customers post a beautiful photo of your food, beverage or building and tag you, they are gifting you with an opportunity to repost it on your Instagram! More importantly, they’re giving you an opportunity to interact with them again and become top of mind. If you’re top of mind, they’re much more likely to buy your product again or return to your establishment again (and bring friends and family).
Use this gift WISELY.
Instagram Reposting Best Practice Dos and Don’ts
- DO direct message each user to thank them and, if they took a beautiful photo you want to repost, tell them you love their picture and ask if you can use it on your page with photo credit
- Do use a repost app if possible (it makes it clear it is not your photo); always give photo credit
- DO always give photo credit, whether you use a repost app or not; give photo credit in the post text AND tag them in the photo itself (note: tagging them in the photo is not enough to give photo credit – you must do it in your post text too)
- DO put it on your social calendar to reuse the photo again later in the year, as appropriate (and tag and give photo credit AGAIN)
- DON’T repost another’s Instagram photo without giving them credit
An exception to the permission rule above is Instagram stories. If a diner, for example, posts a photo they took of a dish at your restaurant and tags you in their story, not only can you comment on it, but you can also share it to your brand’s story as long as you tag the diner.
For additional Instagram help and resources, read these articles at Food PR & Communications:
- Instagram + Food Brands: A Match Made in Heaven
- Feast Your Eyes: How to Improve Your Food Business with Better Photos
- Show Off Your Business on Instagram
- Food Photos: Improving Others’ Photos of Your Food on Their Social Channels