What Makes a Restaurant Insta-Famous?

So, of course I watched the Fyre Festival documentary – the Netflix one.  So many details stood out (that Evian water story!!), but what really stuck with me was that the whole fiasco was facilitated, perpetuated and, ultimately, destroyed by Instagram.   Without the orange square and the sad sandwich, no one would have ever heard of Fyre Festival.  For better or worse, Instagram is inseparable from marketing, which can be intimidating.  But if you harness the power of Instagram in your favor, your restaurant can reap big rewards.  Here are some strategies that other restaurants have capitalized on. 

Unique signage or artwork is a creative way to generate buzz on Instagram.  Neon signs, murals or even photobooths will entice your Insta-savvy customers to engage with your restaurant.  Graffiti Bar is a popular backdrop for Philadelphians enjoying a night out because of the graffitied alley leading to the venue.  Fox in the Snow in Cincinnati has a logo that’s instantly recognizable in a feed, so they’ve branded not only their cups and business cards, but also their walls inside and out, giving customers lots of choices on how to post their experience.

Having a gimmick can make your brand catch fire on Instagram.  Taiyaki, a japanese ice cream parlor in NYC, took a Japanese symbol and turned it into big likes.  Taiyaki actually means “fried fish” in Japanese, and the shop serves their ice cream in adorable fish shaped cones!  I know the word “gimmick” has a negative connotation, so while fun and quirky, gimmicks also have to deliver on quality.  Since Taiyaki has been open since 2016, customers seem to be loving what they’re serving, regardless of how they’re serving it!

Over-the-top creations are popular on Instagram.  Perhaps the most well-known example of this is Black Tap.  Their epic shakes topped with cotton candy, cookies and entire slices of cake rocked Instagram in a big way – #blacktap has over 46,000 tags, and customers line up around the block to get a table.

Being on trend can help your restaurant get noticed.  Rainbows were hot recently, spreading over everything from bagels to frappuccinos.  And don’t forget the hallmark of the millennial – avocado toast!  Serving a trendy item on your menu could bring customers who want to be on the forefront of pop culture through the door. 

Big Gay Ice Cream is a social media powerhouse and combines multiple tactics that beg to be photographed, shared and liked.  Patrons love posting pictures of their unusual flavors, such as vanilla ice cream coated with Cheeto dust that can be enjoyed on a rainbow bench or in front of a pop-art rendering of a Golden Girl

The best part about Instagram publicity is that it’s free!  So if you try something, and it’s not working, pivot and try something else.  Just never sacrifice quality for attention – no matter what you try it should jive with your brand and feel true to your restaurant’s identity.  And rest assured that nothing you do can be as bad as Fyre Festival!


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