Welcome back to our #hackdining series in which we bring you tips to make every dining moment you have with OpenTable the best it can be.
Since its launch in 2016, more than 300 million users interact with Instagram stories on a daily basis, reports 99firms.com. So it’s no surprise that these fifteen-second clips are one of the best ways for restaurants, influencers, and diners to connect with each other in deliciously entertaining and creative ways.
On my Instagram, @findyourhappyplate, I find my stories often get more reach and engagement than my actual posts. There are a number of tips and tricks to turn that plate of pasta into an alluring story while boosting views at the same time. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a killer restaurant Instagram story the next time you dine out.
Step 1: Decide Between Now vs. Later
For many, the appeal of an Instagram story is the raw or authentic quality of posting in real time. But there are a few reasons some users like to take photos and videos with their phone and save their stories for later. Firstly, it allows you to live in the moment and enjoy your dining experience with friends or other influencers. It also gives you time to look back, select the best looking images, and build a cohesive story. Saving your stories for later means you can formulate witty commentary, create polls, and correctly tag your friends and the restaurant, often resulting in more views.
Step 2: Take an Interesting Establishing Shot
First impressions are important, so the first image of your story has to be a real thumb-stopper. You’ll always have a drop off in views from the first to the second image, so don’t be discouraged. Some users, particularly influencers, like to start a story with a video of them talking to the camera giving a brief intro on where they’re going and what they’re doing. I’m camera shy, so I prefer a beautiful shot of the restaurant’s chic exterior or interior, but only if it’s a memorable space, like La Goulue, a cute French bistro in the Upper East Side of New York. I’m also partial to the classic fancy cocktail with menu shot like the image below from Chinese restaurant Philippe.
Step 3: Ask the Chef
One thing I like to do is ask the waiter or the chef what menu items look the best. This way, you’ll be able to tailor your menu to capture enough beautiful images for your story. Another hot tip is to try to include a gooey cheese or noodle dish. This way, you can keep up with the latest #noodlelift and #cheesepull trends to further increase views on your story. Plus, if you’re able to chat with the chef, you can also get a selfie and tag them in it.
Step 4: The Logistics, Explained
Once you’ve taken all your stunning, well-lit shots of cocktails, dishes, and desserts, it’s time to formulate the story. I like to do mine in chronological order, so my followers feel like they’re experiencing the meal too. I choose the same filter, the same font style, and color to carry throughout the entire story. I’m a sucker for consistency. ‘Oslo’ is my favorite filter, as it tends to brighten up every picture. And of course, make sure you choose a font and color that people can actually read!
I also include the restaurants handle in every image, so they’ll have a greater chance of seeing my story and getting attention and clicks from my followers. Including your fellow diners’ handles will also garner appreciation.
One of the best and most time-consuming ways to increase story views is adding up to ten hashtags, like #foodporn into the story. Obviously, they don’t look pretty, but you can shrink them down and hide them within the story, so no one will know they’re there. I once got more than 800 views on an Instagram story by using #Maldives. This also helped me earn more followers. Lastly, always try to indicate where you are using the location tag so that you have a chance to be featured in the discovery for that area (see GW Fins photo at top).
Step 5: Don’t Forget to Add Personality
Letting your personality shine through can be tricky when you’re trying to remember colors, hashtags, fonts, and handles, but it’s Instagram — so remember to have fun. Add in some creative polls or ask questions about the food or restaurant. Taking advantage of Instagram’s features will help keep viewers interested and more engaged. The crying Kim Kardashian gif is one of my favorites to use. So don’t be shy; put your personality in your stories. You’re much more likely to have a kickass Instagram story with more loyal viewers and followers.
What are your tips for creating restaurant Instagram Stories? Let us know here or over on Facebook, G+, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.
Katie Lockhart is a Brooklyn-based food and travel writer. When she’s not writing, she’s eating her way around the world and posting it all on her Instagram @findyourhappyplate and blog findyourhappyplate.co.
Photo credits: Katie Lockhart.