1. Pretty Plates ‘n Cups
The first trick to let your customers photograph your food or drinks, is all in your own hands. Easier said than done but a key pillar in digital word-of-mouth marketing: your plates, your coffees or your cocktails have to look pretty. But how do you do this?
- The food needs to be fresh. Use good quality ingredients and serve directly. It’s hard to make brown lettuce or an overcooked steak look appetizing.
- Your plates, cups and glasses need to be clean. Stainless, really.
- Provide your customers with a nice background. Your tables may have a pretty marble or wooden top. If not, why not use some table mats? There are so many variations out there. You could even spice it up and buy different table mats so that most of the pictures you get from your customers look different. These distinct looks will definitely come in handy.
- Decoration and props! A big and bold candle, some flowers, a well designed menu, fancy napkins. Think of elements you can add to the table which will create color and variety in your customer’s pictures. Make sure the elements fit your brand. If you are very retro, get some quirky vintage props. If you’re a fancy restaurant, an ironed white napkin is better. Or put a ribbon around your cutlery. Don’t make it into a big deal, but do think about it.
2. Hi There Daylight
Nothing screws up a picture more than bad lighting. Too dark, too bright, too yellow or blue… If your customer needs to use the flash on his or her phone to snap a pic of their food, you’ve lost. Those pictures will never turn out great – they’ll look similar to the ones on the outdoor menus of cheap and shabby snackbars. I promise you, those are the last photos you want to go up on TripAdvisor or Instagram. So be smart and provide your visitors with good lighting. Allow as much daylight into your place as possible. I can’t tell you what kind of lamps to buy but if you are open at night and you want people still to photograph your meals, you might consider an extra source of light on the tables.
3. Get Those Pictures
So you have followed all the steps and you can see your customers taking pictures. What’s next? Getting access to those pictures. People love to share and they are probably putting the pictures up on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook but that doesn’t mean they’ll get to you. Their profiles may be private or they might not (hash)tag you. This is why you should actively ask your customers to share their photos with you. Provide them with a #hashtag or @yourname to use by giving them a business card. Create flyers promoting your social media platforms and handles. And even better: put those somewhere on your tables so people will see it while they are making and posting the pictures.
Another trick would be to put the #yourhashtag or @yourname on your wall, on a chalkboard, in a mural or something like that. Inform you waitresses and bartenders too: if they see someone snap a picture, they should ask that person to use the hashtag or tag you if they post it on social media. You could also set up a promo (like the example on the right below). This would make it even easier for your staff to inform people about your social media, because it will be beneficial for both parties.
4. Make them share
Don’t just use your physical space and printed promotions. The restaurants of NENI are winning at this. By actively motivating their customers to share their pictures on social media they are receiving tons of ‘earned content’. There are 3 types of media: owned, earned and paid. Owned media is media you’ve created yourself, paid media is media you paid for but is created by someone else and earned media is content created by your customers or audience (and therefore completely free). This last type of content is often the most powerful kind. Why? Because it’s word-of-mouth media. If you post a picture today of the delicious pasta you just had at an Italian place, your friends will be interested. They will probably trust you if you tell them – even if it’s just through the caption – that your pasta was really good and they should go visit the place. It’s basically micro-influencer marketing.
Also, as you can see in the little image gallery I put together below (all photos come from the @neni_food Instagram account), NENI makes it really easy for their guests to snap gorgeous food pics. See those props, those decorations? The clean plates? The natural soft light? Yep, it’s all there.
By handing out flyers and small business cards asking people to share their prettiest photos on social media with @neni_food and #nenifood, NENI is getting lots of content, all the time. Besides promoting this action, they make sure their food looks Instagram-worthy, or, as we say nowadays, ‘Instagramable’. Every week they pick a ‘winner’ out of the @neni_food and #nenifood photos posted on social media. The winner is treated to a free lunch or dinner at one of their restaurants. The winning picture is featured on the @neni_food account. It’s a win-win. It doesn’t cost the restaurant much, yet they are being promoted all the time. The ROI is huge. The pictures are pretty. It works.
Did you enjoy this post?
Then please let me know in the comments. Feel free to share your thoughts and if you come across any inspiring social media examples from restaurants, please do share.
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