It’s no secret that if your restaurant’s marketing strategy doesn’t include social media, it’s incomplete. Millions of people turn to social media to learn about restaurants and determine what to add to their “must-visit” lists. Instagram, especially.
Instagram is a visually rich platform perfect for restaurants touting stunning images, videos, and other visuals showcasing their food, establishments, employees, and more.
The visuals you use, the captions you write, and how you engage with customers are all essential to how well you do on Instagram. But one of the most overlooked contributors to success is hashtags.
Hashtags can take your Instagram marketing strategy to the next level. This post will explore how. But first, let’s briefly cover what Instagram hashtags are.
What Are Instagram Hashtags?
Generally, a hashtag is any combination of letters, words, numbers, or emojis with the pound (#) sign before it (e.g., #bestrestaurantintown). Instagram hashtags are simply those used on the platform.
Note that there can’t be any spaces in your hashtag for it to turn into a clickable hyperlink on Instagram. You also can’t use any special characters in your hashtag.
How Can They Boost a Restaurant’s Marketing Game?
Instagram hashtags can boost your marketing strategy in a couple of ways.
One, hashtags can give your restaurant more visibility on Instagram. The right hashtags can inspire more engagement under your posts, prompting Instagram’s algorithm to make your posts appear in users' feeds more often.
In addition, you can create branded hashtags on Instagram, hashtags specific to your brand. This makes it easier for existing customers to find and engage with your restaurant on the platform. Your brand’s reputation and recognition grow too.
As far as your overall social media marketing strategy, you can use Instagram hashtags to support specific campaigns.
So, for instance, let’s say you’re running a marketing campaign that spans all your digital marketing channels. You can categorize content specific to that campaign on Instagram with unique hashtags.
You can then connect that content to specific links in your bio that drive traffic to your other digital marketing channels. The goal is to connect the content on your Instagram to the rest of the campaign’s content on varying channels.
Considerations to Make When Choosing Your Hashtags
If you’re ready to use hashtags more effectively on Instagram, there are a few considerations to make before choosing the ones you’ll use.
The perfect amount of hashtags
You can use up to 30 hashtags on a single Instagram post. However, most experts are opposed to using all 30. Instead, they’ve found that a good starting point is 11 hashtags. But most posts only have between 3 to 5 and are still garnering engagement.
Consider this when choosing hashtags for each post, as you want to ensure you’re using the ones that will be most impactful for the post.
Most popular for restaurants
You can come up with your own hashtags. However, hashtags are already in play on Instagram that are specific to the restaurant industry. You’ll want to consider using a few of these on each post to help you reach the audience looking for restaurant content.
However, beware that people upload content constantly using the most popular hashtags for restaurants, and yours might get buried underneath it all. So, supplement these hashtags with those with fewer associated posts.
When you search for a hashtag, it’ll tell you how many posts are associated with that hashtag. Hashtags with associated posts in the millions and billions aren’t the best option because your content’s visibility will be limited.
Hashtags with less competition, somewhere between 5,000 to 500,000 associated posts, are more likely to generate consistent engagement.
Who do you want your posts to reach? You must consider your target audience when choosing hashtags to use. Be sure that the people you want to see your post actually search for and follow the hashtags you plan to use.
Hashtags are huge for building a brand-specific following on Instagram. So, you want to ensure that you create and use a couple of branded hashtags under your posts. Doing so will ensure that every time someone clicks on these specific hashtags, most of the content associated with them will be about your restaurant.
The post’s purpose
Consider the purpose of each post when choosing hashtags. For example, many people use the same hashtags under every post. But if you’re opening a new location, using hashtags like #newrestaurant, #newlocation, and #bestnewrestaurantin(insert city here) will help attract new potential customers, especially those in your new location’s city.
What your competitors are using
You don’t have to use the same hashtags your competition does. However, it’s good practice to review the hashtags your competitors use just to get a feel for what’s generating engagement for similar content, offerings, campaigns, etc.
What to Do Once Your Hashtags are Live
Once your hashtags go live, it’s all about tracking their performance. But first, you must ensure you’ve set yourself and your team up with the right technology, specifically tools that help you monitor marketing metrics and analyze results.
Instagram has built-in analytics tools that help you track your content’s performance and audience engagement. But you may need additional third-party tools to help you hone in on your hashtags' performance. Don’t make a permanent decision on which hashtag tracking tools to implement without in-depth research.
Once you get your tools up, commit to analyzing their data a few times a month, maybe more if you’re just starting. You want to dig into what the information means and how you can use it to transform your hashtag strategy for Instagram hashtags to really make a difference.