edibleinstagramAs an amateur photographer, I love Instagram. It is a great place to find inspiration and show off my favorite photos of animals, flowers, interesting architecture, and, of course, food. Of all the social media platforms, Instagram is the place to go if you are looking for glorious images of food.

Now there is mixed research on whether all this food porn makes us happier or sadder, but regardless of the impact, food photos are a national obsession. This is especially true among Millennials, where according to Maru/Matchbox, 69% took and shared a photo of food at least once this month as they were about to eat.

So, if you are in the food business, (restaurant, food manufacturer, or professional food blogger), Instagram is the place to be. So how do you get started? Here’s a simple list of your ingredients and instructions for a tasty Instagram account.

High-Quality Photos and Videos

This is a photography site. If you want to get noticed in the feed your images need to be high quality, no blurry images or bad cropping. Do it right or don’t bother. In general, the images should speak for themselves. Sure a clever caption may increase interaction, but if the image is not dramatic, colorful or engaging, no one will stop long enough to look at your image.

If your food doesn’t look delicious in the pictures no one is going to want to come to your restaurant to try it or buy the ingredients to make the dish at home. To get the perfect image don’t just snap and go. Take multiple images, from different angles. Do a few close-ups and some wider angles, so you have some white space around the images. Then pick your best image.

We worked with Danielle Oron, a food blogger, to develop the recipe below. You can see more of the images she took of this dish on her blog. The one she shared on Instagram definitely struck the right balance.

Instagram example post

Hashtags in Balance

Like Twitter, hashtags on Instagram give users an easy way to search for and discover content. The right hashtag can help increase your reach, encourage more engagement, and even attract new followers. But there can also be too much of a good thing. When you use too many hashtags in your caption, it distracts from the image in the news feed.

In the example above, Danielle found a way around the problem of too many hashtags by keeping the caption simple and then placing the hashtags in the comments. That way the post looks good in the feed and is still searchable. Wherever you place your hashtags, make sure they are relevant to the images you are sharing.

Interact! Instagram is Social

Instagram is not a broadcast medium, it is a social platform. If someone takes the time to comment on your content, it is appropriate to respond. Use Instagram to connect with other foodies, restaurants, food bloggers, and more. Remember that social media is about ego, people share content hoping to be noticed. If you take the time to like their posts, comment and interact, they will be more likely to interact with you.

You can even reach out and request an S4S (shout out for shout out) post exchange. This works best when you find someone with about the same number of followers in a similar market who is willing to share your content and give you a shout out to their community in exchange for you doing the same on your account.

Brand Your Content

Sure you can simply post any image which comes along, or you can be more strategic. Look for images with similar colors, styles or even add your logo to the image so when someone sees content in the timeline, they immediately know it is yours.

The Sunkissed Kitchen is a great example of subtle branding. Before posting she adjusts the color of all her image to make them brighter, more vibrant, even a little bit surreal. The distinctive color styling makes her images stand out in the timeline, and they are recognizable as hers.

Instagram example

Solicit User Generated Content

You can only create and share so much content from your account before people start to feel like you are overwhelming them. That’s where your fans come in. Ask them to share their favorite recipes and photos and tag you. Create a hashtag so you can track their submissions and even consider offering a prize to encourage more engagement. Collect the content and repost the very best, being sure to tag and credit users for their submissions.

Encourage people to talk about you. For the food industry,y especially, reviews and testimonials are critical to giving new potential customers a level of comfort to try out your product or restaurant.

Video is Visual Too!

Static images are great, but we are definitely seeing a shift to video on Instagram. Don’t be left behind. Don’t just show a video of the finished product, use video to show off how something is made. There is a reason those accelerated Tasty videos are so popular, people love food, but they want it to seem easy to make.

Balance is Key

As with any social media platform, the key to success is a balance. It is fine to have some product-focused and even promotional content in your feed as long as it is interspersed alongside the more entertaining, informational and simply beautiful images as well.

Looking for more tips on promoting food on social media? Check out Social Food – A Delicious Guide to Social Media Marketing

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