What’s the value of #foodstagram for restaurants?

17 October 2018

Written by: Stephanie Smarrelli

Restaurant and café owners are being forced to think about social media and how it can impact their businesses.

Every 28 seconds in Australia a hospitality business is tagged on Instagram.

298 million Instagram posts have been hashtagged with the word food, so is it surprising that restaurant and café owners are turning to Instagram to advertise their food?

Every business is different, but with many social media savvy people out there it’s not hard to find someone who knows how to use it to their advantage.

Sartoria café owner Adriana Agricola has employed Instagram coach Nikolina Christopoulou to manage her café’s social accounts.

Christopoulou believes the growth of a café depends on social media.

“Social media can build a loyal customer base, build a café’s reputation [and] help a business grow,” she told upstart.

Christopoulou believes using social media is the most effective way for restaurants and cafés to advertise their company as it has become a key promoting tool for businesses to reach hundreds and thousands of people.

“Businesses can target their ideal customer according to their food preferences [vegan, fodmap, vegetarian, gluten free etc], geographic locations and smartly re-target a competitor’s audience,” she said.

For the Preston café, photo app Instagram has played a major part in growing the business.

“[In] the last two years we have seen a growth in the business coming from social media. We check with our [customers] where they hear about Sartoria and the most common answer is ‘I follow you on Instagram’,” Christopoulou said.

One worry is that often Instagram-able food ends up being a one trick pony as they can lack good taste. However, Christopoulou insists every Sartoria meal is made with the ingredients at the forefront.

“We mainly care about our ingredients. We source everything locally and ethically,” she said.

She also admits some thought goes into ensuring their food is made to look photogenic.

“Our dishes are plated in an artistic way so our customers can share their Sartoria experience on their social media,” she said.

Christopoulou stressed her advice for businesses looking to use social media to grow their following is to post daily and share their content.

“Create beautiful content, interact with followers. Followers are real people that love your café or restaurant and they want to be updated on your new dishes and the team behind the business,” she said.

While Sartoria has someone specifically for social media, Northcote restaurant Pizza Meine Liebe does not. Owner Elena Bonnici has needed to adapt to embrace social media as she runs it all herself.

“I’m in my early 50s [so] I had to relearn what was going on. It’s different to what was happening in my first 10 years of business,” she told upstart.

Bonnici said she originally had trouble with forming an online presence for Pizza Meine Liebe but soon realised her business needed social media in order to stay open.

“It’s a huge learning curve. My first instinct was to give up because it’s not something that I really understand or wanted to understand but you can’t ignore it. You’ve got to be in it otherwise you’re gone. It’s that crucial to your business,” she said.

Bonnici has noticed her use of the restaurant’s social media has had an impact on how many customers walk through the door of Pizza Meine Liebe.

“If I’m not on social media, I lose customers [and] my sales go down,” she said.

Bonnici believes if she hired someone to run Pizza Meine Liebe’s social media, it would be a more effective way to gain more business.

“… I think it could be heaps more effective if I actually paid someone [to run the restaurant’s social media] because they get real followers as opposed to robot followers”, she said.

The overall consensus seems to be that social media is becoming almost as important as cutlery in restaurants and cafés.

Stephanie Smarrelli is a third year Bachelor of Media and Communications (Journalism) student at La Trobe University. You can follow her on Twitter @steph_smarrelli

Photo by author.