How Online Ordering Can Revolutionize Your Small Town Restaurant Takeout

By ChowNowMar 10th, 2022

How to create trending content for your restaurant on social media

When your daily grind is running a restaurant, there’s a lot on your plate–from managing staff to taking orders to keeping diners happy. Social media may seem more fit for the back burner, but investing a bit of time and attention into your online platforms is one of the best ways to boost your brand and sales.

Make your social media efforts count by getting more reach on every post, the easy way. When you use trending content elements like audio or hashtags, you boost viewership and engagement, which in turn grows your loyal fanbase and your sales.

Here are some shortcuts to finding and creating content that will get you trending in no time.

1. Browse Instagram’s Discover Page

Scroll through the Discover page of Instagram’s app to research what the currently trending content looks like.  You don’t have to follow the crowd, but it helps to know what your diners are already seeing from other food accounts on social media. Choose to fit in–or stand out.

How To: On Instagram’s search page, look up “foodie,” or your restaurant’s cuisine. Click “See all results.” Borrow ideas for plating, photography or video from the top posts that you find.

2. Use TikTok to Forecast Trending Content

Want to be ahead of the curve? An increasing portion of video on Instagram actually comes from TikTok first, so keeping an eye on the Discover page here can be an early warning sign for the next big thing.

How To: Just like using the Instagram discover page, typing in general food-related search terms will give you a quick sampling of successful content.

Not on TikTok? You don’t have to be at this time. However, as the platform gains more marketing significance, restaurants may consider claiming their TikTok usernames now for use sometime in the future.

The Discover pages of Instagram and TikTok can help busy restaurateurs research trending content.

3. Strategically Select a Few Hashtags

When you add relevant hashtags to a post, the post is grouped with similar content so that new viewers can easily find accounts or topics they might be interested in. Smart use of hashtags can enhance your reach within your target audiences and boost awareness for your restaurant. Chicago’s ingrained has built a large health food and vegan community on Instagram by regularly tagging their posts with #chicagovegan and #eatmoreplants.

In the past, it was best practice to max out Instagram’s limit of 30 hashtags per post. But now, the data suggests that a handful of well-selected hashtags perform better than long lists. It’s less clutter for your viewers and less likely to get flagged as spam.

How To: On the Instagram Discover page, type in a search term, like “coffee,” for example. Look at the suggested terms such as “#coffeelover” (24 million uses) and “#coffeebreak” (8 million) to choose popular hashtags that will support your post.

Or, plug your word or phrase into a site like Hashtag Generator or For Display Purposes. You’ll get a list of the most popular related hashtags that you can copy and paste into your caption.

Overall, aim for a curated selection of hashtags that describe your food, location, and brand. For example, a cafe in Santa Monica might use the hashtags: #latteart #santamonicacafe #coffeelovers

Chicago's ingrained uses popular hashtags to reach wider audiences online

ingrained is a Chicago snack bar that uses Instagram daily for marketing.

4. Create More Video Content, Especially Using Trending Songs

On Instagram, Reels and video get more engagement than photo posts–around 38% more. When they include a song or audio clip that the platform deems “trending,” videos get 30% more views than they would have without that audio. International Grub, a food truck in Austin, uses Reels like this one to give diners a taste of what they can expect when visiting.

The best thing about social media videos is that they can be as polished or produced as you want them to be. Whether it’s a one-take shot, like this one of Homestate’s fresh tortillas, or a fully styled video like Wanderlust Ice Cream’s flavor reveals–you can’t go wrong.

How To: Keep your phone handy and film throughout the day as interesting moments happen. When you post them as Reels, your audio options will show “suggested” ones that have been recently used or are gaining popularity. These are the best options to pull from, as your video will continue the momentum and be served to more viewers.

Finally, make sure that your followers always have a clear path for action, such as placing an order or viewing your menu. Adding your commission-free ordering link as an Instagram button or sticker ensures that once you reach hungry diners, they can immediately check out.  

With just a bit of prep, your consistent social media activity can build a reliable channel for new diners and increased sales.

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