Hotels & Restaurants  

Instagram Savvy

How are chefs and restaurants using Instagram to build followings?
 Instagram Savvy

After decades spent striving for flawless, lifelike photographs of the highest resolution possible, what is it that draws us back to the light-leaked softness of vintage snapshots? There’s just something about the tones and unpredictability of film (or at least a program that mimics it) that lends personality to even the most average everyday slices of life.

That’s the notion that Instagram banked on, and they were right. In less than two years, the program has gained millions of users and keeps on growing every day (even in spite of the exodus of power-hipsters who bailed when it opened its doors to Android users). Obviously some of those millions are going to be chefs, who are using it as another form of social media to connect with their fans.

Jamie Oliver (@jamieoliver) is probably one of the most famous and prolific examples – no surprise, considering how active he is on other forms of social media. (How this man has time for any of it is anyone’s guess.) Between pictures of new menu ideas, Oliver posts everything from personal birthday snapshots to notebook screencaps asking fans to join him in healthy eating – one recent screencap even offered a job opening for a lucky young graphic designer in the UK.

“But isn’t that just like any other doctor/lawyer/teacher/actor using Instagram as their personal social media outlet?” you might ask. And you’d be right. But there’s another faction of chefs and restaurateurs out there using Instagram for more than just a personal sounding board. The program has also proved itself a clever tool for restaurants to show off what they’re up to and connect with fans even when they’re not actively eating.

Take Tom Colicchio, for example. His personal Instagram account (@tcolic) is way fascinating if you’re into following a celebrity chef on his off-the-clock shenanigans – and hey, some of us are. But if you’re into food porn and an inside look at the restaurant business, follow Craft Restaurant (@craft_newyork), Craftbar (@craftbarnyc) and Colicchio and Sons (@colicchio_sons) instead. They’re a little less celebrity, but a lot more ginger semifreddo and crafty mint juleps and employee candids and artistic close-ups of whole sides of beef. 

Likewise, local food truck MIHO Gastrotuck (@mihogastrotruck) keeps it coming daily with beautifully shot portraits of their ever-evolving menu – the items themselves, not the chalkboard menu, naturally – as well as snapshots from special catering events. They also mix in shots from their R&R time, whether it’s chilling at home with a cocktail in hand or researching new flavors from up north to south of the border. It’s those personal touches that help fans feel more invested in the brand than if it were just a random food truck they only came in contact with once a week.

In the end, however you choose to use the technology is up to you, whether that’s as your personal voice or a soft-filtered glimpse into the workings of your business. It’s just important to remember that it’s out there, a fun and easy way to connect with others, and it’s yours for the taking. 

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