With Instagram continuing to roll out its test of removing public likes across the globe, follower numbers are becoming more important for brands on social media. As public likes disappear, the number of followers an account boasts will remain one of the only signs of social proof and credibility for a business. It has often been considered a struggle to build up a strong and loyal follower basis - resulting with some brands buying followers to kick-start their account credibility. Fake followers will not visit your website, will not engage with your account and they will not turn into paying customers.
It is so important to construct an organic follower list dominated with relevant followers who have an interest in your restaurant. By implementing a few changes into your social strategy, your restaurant can easily get authentic followers who will engage with your account. Relying on organic follower growth is slow. Luckily, there are so many things that your restaurant can be doing to grow your follower list and create a loyal community. Here, we will explain 7 proven ways your restaurant can get more Instagram followers!
1. Run Competitions
Social competitions are a great way to encourage new followers. You will find that a lot of users will follow your account and share your posts if there is a chance to win a prize. Construct a competition post with a caption that encourages new followers: ‘tag a friend & follow our account for a chance to win’. Make sure that you include tagging a friend in the entry requirements, since they may not know of your restaurant or your restaurant’s account. The more people enter, the further your post will reach, which will encourage more entries and more followers. Without having to do much else, your social competition will bring in a wave of new followers eager to win and keep tabs on your posts for future competitions.
2. Interactions to ethically ‘steal’ competitor’s followers
Daily or even weekly interactions are so important for any restaurant looking to gain followers. If your competitors have an impressive follower list, take advantage of this! Go through and interact with their followers. Whether this be by following them, liking their photos or commenting on their posts. This will make them more likely to follow you & engage back. Your competitor’s followers are exactly the audience that you want to target since they live in the right area, so, you can be sure that your new followers are relevant. With interactions, the more you put in the more you will get out - so spend as much time as you can researching and interacting with other people & accounts. Spending 20 minutes every other day on this activity will be enough to see benefits. Most importantly, this activity is totally free!
3. Influencer collaborations
Your restaurant should also consider teaming up with a local foodie influencer. In exchange for a free meal, influencers will be more than happy to post about your restaurant on their feed and encourage their foodie loving audience to also follow you. Reach out to any relevant influencers who have interacted with your account or are based in the same area. If you are a small restaurant, target the growing micro-influencer market. Micro-influencers may only boast 1-10k followers, but their followers are local and very trusting of their views about your restaurant. Simply ask the influencer to direct their post towards getting your account more followers. For the price of a meal, you have spread awareness about your account and restaurant to thousands of new potential followers/customers.
4. Use locations in feed & stories
Surprisingly, location tags are an underused tool by many brands looking to gain followers. Using locations in your feed and stories are a free and effective way to increase reach within the local area. Add geotags and location-based hashtags on your posts to attract local users who are searching for local content. These simple additions will enable your post to reach audiences beyond your follower list. Being consistent with geo targeting on posts will help you rank higher in these searches in the long-term. Consequently, your account will appear in more local searches and benefit from new followers based in the area.
5. Use User Generated Content
Posting UGC is known to be a successful social strategy. UGC posts naturally perform very well. When debating whether to visit your restaurant, Instagramers tend to trust the content posted by other users instead of your own. Indeed, 85% of consumers find visual UGC more persuasive than regular brand produced content. These posts offer an authentic look into your restaurant, free from any editing or staging. As a result, UGC invites a significant amount of engagement compared to other brand-created content. Importantly, people like to be featured, so they will likely share your featured post on their own feed. This increases the reach of the post even further to a new audience who are proven to be receptive to UGC. In turn, you will attract new followers to your account without any cost or effort!
6. Offer Follower-only discounts or events
In order to gain more followers, you need to show users why it is so good to be a follower. Most users will want to follow your account if they get access to some exclusive follower-only discounts or events.
Utilise more traditional marketing techniques to complement your digital strategy. For example, create in-store posters or use email marketing campaigns to offer a discount for anyone following your Instagram account. This will provide a great incentive for customers to follow your account or like your Facebook page.
If you’ve got a way of collecting your guest’s emails (through newsletters, Wi-Fi login etc...) you can also retarget them. Perhaps ask them to follow you in return for a discount on their next visit. This way, you know that you’re talking to people who like your brand.
7. Cross promote your Instagram Profile
If your restaurant is on multiple social media platforms, take advantage of this! Don’t keep your Facebook and Instagram presence separate - use them together to cross promote your Instagram account on Facebook. Encourage your Facebook fans to also follow you on Instagram by providing small incentives. Perhaps your Instagram page is more active, or offers more behind the scenes through your stories? Consider running an Instagram-exclusive competition and ask your Facebook fans to get involved.
Additionally, shout about your Instagram account in-store and through your email marketing. Use all your marketing techniques together to really promote your social media presence. Just remember, different platforms have different audiences, so try to get users involved on as many platforms as possible!
There are so many different strategies that your restaurant can implement to gain more authentic followers. If you are willing to spend some money on competition prizes and influencer meals, you will immediately see the benefits of new followers. On the other hand, there are still plenty of methods that you can utilise to gain followers that are free, simple and effective. If you want any help with getting more followers for your restaurant’s Instagram account, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!