The restaurant industry is taking over Instagram

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These days, a picture of food is hotter than a male model on Instagram. The image-driven platform is the perfect hub for restaurateurs, no matter their specialties. That's why you should use Instagram to attract guests from near and far. 

It's free and fun
The No. 1 perk of Instagram is free promotion. At no cost at all, you can download the app and start using it to showcase your finest cocktails and impressive charcuterie. Scott Schroder, chef at American Sardine Bar and the South Philly Tap Room, explained his Insta-success to the National Restaurant Association. 

"It has a very direct effect on business," Schroder told the National Restaurant Association. "It gets a lot of attention – that part is very easy. It's free PR. It's amazing that with such little effort and zero cost I can get these kinds of results. I put a daily special up on Instagram and people come in for it that night."

"Be consistent, but above allget weird with Instagram.

According to Schroder, the more staff involved with the process, the better. Collaboration can lead to interesting ideas and reach wider audiences. Plus, once one person gets on board with an eatery's social media goals, other people will want to join in too. The fun initiative tends to have a domino effect, and even guests will want to join in. 

Keep it classy
Encourage employees and guests to use the geotag feature so that you can easily keep tabs on any photos involving your establishment. However, don't give the log-in information to everyone. Select a handful of people who have a handle on social media and more importantly, an affinity for food.

Don't be boring
Keeping a close-knit social media team reduces the chance of inappropriate posts. Someone might inadvertently upload personal photos to the account that was intended for his or her private Instagram account. All it takes is a slip of the finger and the information is out in the Web for good – even if you retract it.

Prevent mishaps by enlisting a social media supervisor who works for you and has a background in communications. This person shouldn't be hard to find with all the writers and media mavens waiting tables to supplement their incomes. In due time, you could even transform these responsibilities into a prestigious internship, leaving you with several good candidates to pick from. 

Once you start posting, be consistent, but above all – get weird with Instagram. Forbes pointed out, that 9 out of 10 restaurants in the nearly $700 billion industry are using social media. That's a lot of competition, which leaves no room for stale content. 

Reach far-flung guests by posting foodie pictures when you're on vacation. Reach far-flung guests by posting foodie pictures when you're on vacation.

A fun photo series is a great way to get people excited to promote your food on Instagram. For example, you can do a segment of food in motion or food on the road. Give a piece of restaurant memorabilia like a wing bucket to guests and have them take it along for a cross-country road trip. It's a small sacrifice that can yield big results. Entice participants with a comped meal or a gift card, and see how quickly the posts come in. 

Once you develop a good following, people will share your posts with their followers with the hashtag "regram." That's how you know you've made it. 

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