In the era of Instagram, millennials are willing to go out of their way to hit the jackpot by posting FOMO-inducing pictures on their social media feeds. Does the Museum of Ice Cream or 29Rooms ring a bell? That is why more businesses are finding ways to attract an audience by stepping up their visual design game.
Creating buzz for your restaurant can be as easy as commissioning a mural by a local artist or installing trendy wallpaper and soft lighting in your bathroom. This will draw potential customers to your restaurant who will then share their experience on social media.
The word-of-mouth marketing will generate tons of user-generated content (UGC), which you’ll then be able to use to promote your restaurant on your own social media channels. Using UGC on your social media platforms is cost-effective, an easy way to create brand desire and loyalty, taps into your audience’s following, and a smart method of collecting assets, building yourself a content library.
Check out our seven tips below on making your restaurant Instagrammable. #DoinItForTheGram
Follow The Latest Design Trends
Remember when every new restaurant featured exposed light bulbs, steel details and brick walls? What was that called? Oh, industrial-chic. Restaurant designer Hillary Miners told NPR that she believes the look “was popular as early as 2007, but she thinks the recession gave it staying power.”
“A lot of people became a lot more cautious with spending their money, but still wanted an upscale experience without going to a white tablecloth restaurant,” Miners said.
Whatever the reason may be, we’ve moved on from the hipster restaurant starter pack. In early 2020, before our entire lives were upended by COVID-19, we began seeing trade publications sharing their predictions for restaurant trends to watch. Total Food Service shared their predictions, based on their work in the food and restaurant industry, which included “Slashie” restaurants, and eclectic design elements such as mix-and-match furniture, handmade goods, sophisticated and multi-color palettes, immersive experiences, and front-and-center kitchens. Restaurant Hospitality shared similar design predictions, including one of my favorites – purse hooks on bars. Why is this a thing in many countries except ours?! Same question could be posed for universal health care and competent leadership, but I digress. 🙈
The Robinson Coffee Room in Orlando features some of those fun visual design elements, such as open spaces, natural lighting, a trendy pastel color palette for the monochromatic interiors, marble detailing, and more.
Restaurants that look dated run the risk of alienating younger generations and potential customers. The only restaurant that has been able to embrace and own the hellscape that their interior design choices are is Cheesecake Factory.
Add Fun, Selfie-Worthy Features
Adding playful features and areas to your restaurant creates a space for customers to photograph their product or your restaurant and post on their social media channels. The Robinson Coffee Room features an indoor fountain and selfie-friendly seating such as couches and swings.
A few years ago while I was attending a conference in Houston, my friends and I stumbled upon Axelrad, a beer garden and live music venue. Do you know why we chose to visit the bar in the first place? Hint: It wasn’t their drink selections (which were top-notch!). It was a picture of the grove of hammocks customers could hangout in while enjoying a beer under the sun.
Another Texas favorite we visited last fall is The Shady Llama, an outdoor bar located on a scenic overlook of Wimberley, Texas, that has, you guessed it, llamas! Honestly, why haven’t I packed up and moved to Texas to become an influencer yet?
Accent Walls For The Perfect Backdrop
Adding accent walls to your restaurant, indoors and outdoors, can turn an often overlooked spot into the perfect backdrop for a picture. An accent wall can look like anything from a greenery wall, featuring plants and flowers, a vibrant mural by a local artist, or a wall of mirrors. The possibilities are endless!
The Churchill Arms, a restaurant and pub in Kensington, London, is famously known for their flower installations that have adorned the building’s exterior walls since 1986. This has led the bar to become one of the most gorgeous and Instagrammed pubs in London.
Make Your Packaging or Product Pop
Packaging and presentation is another opportunity for your product to be captured and shared on social media. Spending time on details, such as branding on cups, boxes, and other items, sets your restaurant apart from the competition.
Food presentation, for example, is essential to the success of your dish. With nothing but an image for social media users to get an idea of what the product looks like, making it look appealing will prompt your consumer to photograph it and share it with their followers.
Taiyaki NYC, a food truck at 1-800-Lucky in Miami, serves up signature taiyaki ice cream cones. Taiyaki is a Japanese fish-shaped cake, which usually has a filling. At Taiyaki NYC, it is ice cream. My favorite is the Unicorn, complete with ears and a horn. Luckily, because it is located in the Wynwood district, you don’t have to go too far to snap a great picture of your dessert.
Design With Patterned Floors
When feet meet nice floors, they take a selfeet, according to the Instagram account @IHaveThisThingsWithFloors. The Instagram account has amassed a following of over 792,000 floor enthusiasts, which goes to show, pretty much anything can be the perfect backdrop.
If your restaurant does not have the space for a large mural or accent wall, consider using patterned tiles, carpet or rugs in a well-lit area that your customers could use for a cute picture of their shoes or snack and tag your restaurant.
Dress Up The Bathroom
We can all agree that going to the bathroom while you’re at dinner can take you out of the experience of a night out, especially when it is unclean and unthemed. Restaurant designers have begun making the bathroom a part of the experience, by adding fun design elements such as good lighting, artwork, mirrors with phrases on them, and wallpaper.
Encourage Engagement Through Contests
One way to increase Instagram engagement from your audience is to reward customers who post photos from your business. You can do this by hosting a contest, giveaway or offering a discount to users who post a picture from your restaurant during a specific timeframe, using a branded hashtag and tagging your restaurant account. Don’t forget to engage with your customers by liking, replying and reposting their image – with their permission – to your feed or Instagram Stories.