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Orange and red photos get the most engagement Barbecue carrots at Publican
<p>Orange and red photos get the most engagement. Barbecue carrots at Publican.</p>

The do’s and don’ts of using Instagram for restaurants

This is part of NRN&rsquo;s special coverage of the 2015 NRA Show, being held in Chicago, May 16-19. Visit for the latest coverage from the show, plus follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Are you promoting your restaurant with Instagram? If not, you could be missing a big opportunity.

Instagram has gained millions of followers in the past couple years, and it’s the social media platform of choice for many of your potential customers.

But how do you do it right? Katrina Padron, president of Chicago-based Padron Social Marketing, shared Instagram best practices, from getting ideas to getting likes to getting people engaged with your brand:

Do take quality photos. “That’s a differentiator between Instagram accounts that do really well and those that don’t,” Padron said. Photo editing apps like Afterlight help edit colors and shadows to perfection.

Don’t get stuck with “the blahs.” That’s what Padron referred to as a type of Instagram writer’s block. She has compiled a list of idea prompts, like, “To me, there’s nothing better than…” or “There are no rules when it comes to…”

Do post on Instagram every day, but don’t overload your feed: one photo at a time. If you have trouble finding the time to post, try an app like Latergram to schedule a few posts throughout the week.

Don’t shoot too much of the color blue. Analytics show that photos with red and orange colors get more engagement than predominately blue photos. Bring on the pizza, tomato soup, red velvet cake and tandoori chicken.

Do use classic photography rules like “the rule of thirds.” That means the subject of your photo should take up about a third of the frame.

Do shoot from above. It is great for plates of food, but don’t be afraid to try some lower, from-the-side angles on plates.

Do use the Ludwig and Amaro filters. They get the most likes and comments on Instagram. But use your judgment on what works best for each photo.

• For product shots, don’t use a white background. People engage more with “lifestyle shots,” with everyday objects in the background.

Do use #hashtags. This is how Instagram categorizes content. For example, people searching for #restaurants in #Chicago will find you more easily if you use a hashtag.

• Don’t use cute hashtags like #cantbelieveitsalreadyMonday. They’re just not effective at putting you out there.

Do use #hashtags like #tbt for Throwback Thursday, for fun, old photos. Those are proven to get lots of engagement. Other hashtags that do well: #instagood and #instamood. Hashtag things your community cares about.

Do tag non-competing businesses in your area. If you run a restaurant near a yoga studio, be in conversation with the yogis on a regular basis.

Don’t post at the wrong time. Research shows early morning and mid-evening work well, but you must figure out when your target audience is checking their phones.

TAGS: Marketing
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