I’ve had the pleasure of working with many cafés and food establishments since starting Follow Me Media. I’ll be a little bit bias and say they’re my favourite industry to work with because … FOOD! Food is like a universal language that just brings people together. When we see delicious looking food it stirs the same emotions from everyone … usually hunger!

Because of this, most business owners in the food industry assume they would easily gain followers on their social platforms, but are surprised when they’re not getting the same amount of followers as their competitors.

Firstly, just to clarify, metrics like followers, isn’t a true representation of how successful a business is. Having 10K followers on Instagram is great, but making 10K a day in sales is far more impressive and should be the end goal.

However, since having a lot of followers helps businesses communicate themselves to people. And followers sharing their experience with your business helps you get noticed by people who may not already know about your business, followers are the currency on social platforms.

So I thought I’d share some tips on how cafés and restaurants can start to gain more real followers with a few small tweaks.

1. Post Quality Images

stranded deli cafeWe eat with our eyes. Tempt people who discover your business on social media with quality images of your food so they will want to follow you.

That’s how food bloggers gain so many followers. You’ll notice they’re posting quality images and videos of food that when you see it you instantly think, “yum!”

Invest in a photographer who knows how to take styled food photographs. They should take a lot of styled images of your menu items, your establishment, your regular staff, and the owners.

Sure, smart phones do take great images but edit your photos to make sure it’s clear. Before you press the post or publish button ask yourself, “Does this photo proudly represent my business?”

(Image credit @strandeddelicafe)

2. Let Your Customers Know You’re on Social Media

When your customers are at your establishment, they will most likely get on their phones at some point.

Give them your social media details so they can visit your accounts. Put your social handles on your menu, your establishment’s front door, business cards, on coasters, on your wall – any place your customer’s eyes will wonder off to.

Encourage them to follow your social platforms. Ask them to check in, tag your business in the photos they’re sharing with their friends, and ask customers to give your establishment a review when they pay their bill.

If customers just had a positive experience at your café, they’re more likely to follow your social platforms.

3. Get on Instagram

There’s no denying businesses in the food industry need to be on Instagram. This platform is where your target market is exchanging and communicating the most.

Statistically, people are more willing to follow a business account on Instagram than they are on Facebook, so there are more opportunities on this platform.

If you are on Instagram, think about the accounts you follow. You probably follow more brands or businesses like hair dressers, beauticians or online influencers on Instagram than you do on your personal Facebook account.

Use local and complimentary hashtags for your industry like #goldcoastfoodie or #BreakfastinSydney to help your establishment get discovered.

Extra tip: Don’t know what hashtags are popular? Find a post by a local foodie and see and copy relevant hashtags they’re using.

4. Collaborations

Just starting out, or business is a little slow? Why not host an event and invite local foodies or food bloggers to your establishment to sample your favourite or popular dishes or next season’s upcoming menu? Make it special so they’ll want to share the event on their socials allowing you to reach their followers. The great part about inviting online influencers is they’re creating content you could reuse (with their permission of course) on your social platforms.

Collaborate with who you know. Today it’s not just accounts who have a large following you should focus on. Look for accounts who have engaged followers. I had a client who mentioned her young 20 something year old niece had 4K Instagram followers and one of her posts, (usually a selfie) usually gets 100+ likes. I suggested inviting their niece to the café and asking her to post a photo which included an image of their food and tagging their establishment on her Instagram account. Their niece’s post helped new people discover the café and generated several new followers for the café’s Instagram account.

Who in your network of friends could you ask a shout out from?

5. Be Consistent

post frequently on instagramA big part of nailing or growing on social media when you’re in the food industry is being online regularly. Of course you won’t generate followers if your last post was in September 2016. Or if you’re just posting and not interacting with other accounts.

Engage with those who you follow and follow you. Like and comment authentically. Ask open ended questions and don’t be shy to invite them to your establishment. I like to comment with, “when are we going to get a visit?” or “have you tried our waffles?” when I’m logged into my client’s Instagram account and see local users posting images of establishments or menu items similar to my clients.

6. Why Should They Follow You?

With so many cafés and restaurants out there, ask yourself why should people follow your social platforms?

Why do you follow certain businesses? Is it the information they share, the beautiful images they post, specials they offer? Answer those questions and try to replicate them for your business. Get creative and mix things up so it’s not all “business”.

Are you located in an interesting part of your suburb? Is there history about the food you want to share? Include this along side your business content.

Friends of mine who named their café after their two children, frequently post cute photographs of their kids. Not only are the images adorable, but it breaks their feed so it’s not all “salesy” and it gives people insight into the café owners making them more relatable.

carter and g's(Image credit Carter and G’s)

These tips are going to take time before you reap the results and social media is a long slog. Posting ok content here and there and hoping for the best doesn’t cut it anymore. These social platforms and their funny algorithm favour frequent engaging content.

I encourage you to start putting some real thought into your business’ social media presence. Social media isn’t going anywhere and in the food industry it can be a useful tool in growing your business. Ask yourself, what makes me different from my competitors? How can I leverage these social platforms to drive more people to my establishment? and how can I attract more of my target market?

Have you ever mapped out a plan to tackle your business’ social media presence? Need some help? I’m an email away and happy to answer any questions you may have. I read and respond to every email so send your question to camielle@followmemedia.com.au