Generally, millennials won’t go to a place if it’s not Instagrammable. That’s not just my opinion – it’s a confirmed fact. A study conducted by home insurance provider Schofields reveals that more than 40% of its millennial respondents cited Instagrammability as the main criterion for choosing their travel destinations. I’m willing to bet that it has a lot to do with where they choose to eat too. If you eat out and don’t post it on social media, did it really happen?

A big part of why we eat out is so we can rub it in our followers’ faces. If your restaurant isn’t social media-friendly, you’re at a massive disadvantage. But not to worry, the code for thriving on social media has been cracked. With these restaurant marketing tips, you can turn your establishment into a social media magnet.

Create a stir


Instagrammability is about more than just plating dishes that are photo-ready. It starts with the overall look and feel of your restaurant. First, you have to ensure that your restaurant is generously lit. There’s nothing worse than having to use your phone’s flash when taking pictures at a restaurant during the day. The best lighting is natural light from giant windows, skylights and floor-to-ceiling glass doors.

Once you have good lighting, you can focus on adding interesting elements of décor that are worth snapping. Try adding something that will have the same effect as the famous Maboneng sign that almost everyone who has visited the precinct has taken a picture under. Beleef in Franschhoek in the Western Cape does this beautifully with plush velveteen couches that wrap around the room and hug the towering windows which bring in plenty of flattering outdoor light.

Get a little weird


Your restaurant’s branding is an excellent opportunity to make yourself memorable. While there’s a certain timelessness to keeping your branding simple, a little quirkiness certainly grabs the attention of your patrons. Take something like your restaurant’s food philosophy (farm to table, raw alkaline cuisine, superfood macro bowls or whatever it is) and blow it slightly out of proportion.

Try giving your restaurant a funny persona online, dress up your staff in zany uniforms or deliberately misspell everything on your menu. The weirder your branding, the greater the chances that you’ll pique curiosity on social media. Pablo Eggs-Go-Bar in Melville, Johannesburg, is a restaurant so obsessed with breakfast food that it’s in the establishment’s name. That’s the kind of commitment to weirdness I’m talking about.

Start a craze


It’s difficult to reverse-engineer virality. Some things become viral sensations for seemingly no reason at all (ahem, like Baby Shark). But I think you stand a better chance of gaining your 15 minutes of Insta-fame with an intriguing signature menu item. Nothing packs a promotional punch quite like a dish your patrons can’t order anywhere else. It’s even better if it’s seasonal – rarity is a reliable catalyst for high demand.

Craft in Parkhurst, Johannesburg, has a whole section on its menu dedicated to special shakes – and special is an understatement. It’s a short list of over-the-top milkshakes that are the size of a toddler’s head and drip with decadence.

The J’Something (pictured), which is named after the lead singer of Mi Casa who conceived it, is a Nutella and banana shake topped with an unconscionable amount of peanut butter fudge. But the patrons love it and so does social media. So perhaps practicality isn’t even important for your signature menu item – but the drama is essential.

For more restaurant marketing tips that will boost your restaurant’s followers, download, The definitive 21st-century restaurant playbook.

Author : Rudi Badenhorst