How to Make Your Menu Instagram Worthy
As a restaurant owner or chef, your goal is to create dishes and drinks worthy of being snapped – and shared. After all, nearly three-quarters of millennial and Gen Z customers take photos of the food they order at restaurants. To get your menu items ready for their closeup, put these nine Instagram marketing strategies into play.
9 Pro Tips for Making Your Menu Instagram Worthy:
1. Instagram Marketing for Menus 101
It’s so obvious, you might overlook it…To make your menu Instagram-worthy, first let patrons know you want them taking photos of your food and drinks!
It could be as simple as adding this Instagram marketing language on your menu, along with the Instagram logo: “Show us your #foodpics.” Don’t forget to include your Instagram handle signified with the “@” symbol. You could even put the Instagram icon right next to menu items that are popular with Instagramers.
2. Garnish for the Gram
When it comes to marketing your menu on Instagram, little details make all the difference in whether your dish gets photographed or not. Use these garnish tricks to transform existing items on your menu:
- Add pops of green to liven up meat-based dishes. Top a basket of chicken wings with thinly sliced scallions or cilantro, like this.
- Beautiful garnishes can take your cocktails to the next level. Instead of a basic orange wedge, opt for a stunning blood orange.
- While an old-school sprig of parsley won’t win you any Instagram marketing favors, garnishing with any of these 42 edible flowers is a sure bet.
- Use small cookie cutters to turn vegetables and fruits into notice-me shapes from hearts to stars.
- Another menu-focused Instagram marketing trick? Fill sauces into a squeeze bottle to create intriguing crisscross or swirl patterns on the plate. If you want to ensure a patron puts your dessert on the ‘Gram, spell out their name in chocolate sauce on a dish.
3. Dish it Out
Speaking of dishes, they can be your secret weapons in Instagram marketing. White plates and bowls always provide a great blank canvas. However, many restaurants are leveling up to appeal to Instagram users. Some popular serving vessels include gray slate slabs, rustic cutting boards, and hand-made pottery. Vintage dishware turns an otherwise average dessert into a fashion statement. And colorful dishes – think classic Fiestaware – command attention, like this photo of waffles on a golden yellow plate. Don’t stop at dishware! Cool glassware, like retro Tiki tumblers, can give that rum punch an “it” factor.
4. Go Over the Rainbow
It all started a few years back with the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino. It was Instagram marketing gold (well, pink and purple). You couldn’t log onto social media without seeing someone “bragging” through photos that they tried the colorful concoction. Give your own menu the unicorn treatment with rainbow-hued foods just made for Instagram marketing. Try an ice cream sampler with 5-6 small scoops served in rainbow order. Or, use colorful heirloom potatoes and carrots in purples, pinks, and yellows, to create an unexpected rainbow of color.
5. Status Symbol
A brag-worthy menu item is another Instagram marketing strategy worth trying. For Cinco de Mayo 2018, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida offered a $100 Prime Margarita served in a Baccarat highball glass that the guest could take home. Customers were snapping pics left and right of their luxury purchase and (not-so-humble) bragging on Instagram.
As you plan your menu based on Instagram marketing, keep watch on emerging food and drink trends on Instagram. How? By doing a photo search using the top 10 trending foodie hashtags for 2019. Visit Instagram and then search by one of these hashtags. You will see both the most recent and most popular photos for that particular hashtag.
For example, in late January 2019 photos of ombre pancakes were trending based on hashtag research using #foodie and #forkyeah. Using varying amounts of blueberries or strawberries in each pancake, the results look like a work of art.
7. You Go First
So far, the focus of these Instagram marketing tips has been getting customers to photograph your food. However, you need to do the same! A recent study shows that when deciding where to dine, many millennials first assess the “Instagram-ability” of a restaurant’s food.
Look at your Instagram page. Do your food and drink photos look appetizing? Alluring? Intriguing? Have you put your best plate forward? If not, get out your camera. And yes, your smartphone can do wonderful things.
Get creative, take pics from all angles: from the “overhead” shot (also known as flatlay) to a side view of a perfectly sliced burger. Use these 11 expert Instagram marketing tips for taking awesome food photos. Almost every professional in Instagram marketing recommends you take photos in natural light, without the flash.
8. Set the Scene
Once you’ve mastered your menu with these Instagram marketing tips, turn to your restaurant’s interior – and even exterior. Many foodies love holding up a drink or sandwich against an interesting backdrop. From funky wallpaper to vibrant paint colors and even neon signs, what’s in the background matters to Instagram users! Start outdoors. Could you enlist a local artist to paint a mural? Indoors, could you add plants like the trendy potted palms or ferns? Your restaurant’s décor should be an extension of your brand. For example, in NYC, everyone wants to get a photo of cereal milk ice cream at Milk Bar – shot against the iconic pink background.
9. Enlist Influencers
It’s time to call in the influencers: one the hottest trends in Instagram marketing. Basically, you pay someone with a large social media following to take photos and promote your restaurant. The first step is to identify the influencers in your area using a tool like www.BuzzSumo.com. Then, invite them in and let them explore your menu. Don’t do this until you’ve implemented some of these menu-focused Instagram marketing tips. You want your dishes and drinks to look picture perfect when the influencer starts sharing them with their followers.
Of course, great tasting food matters. But if you want more customers to experience love at first bite, use these Instagram marketing tips to create a menu that has them falling in love…at first sight.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.