Depending on your target demographic, there are many potential customers you could reach using the new social media platforms. Instagram has quickly become one of the most influential social networks, especially when it comes to restaurants, cafés and coffee shops.

Instagram Restaurant

While Facebook and Twitter remain king for social media marketing, Instagram should not be taking a backseat and, if you own a coffee shop or café, it probably now belongs upfront. Where Instagram excels, Facebook and Twitter tend to falter. Instagram is completely visual based and doesn’t include all the noise and text you will find on Facebook. Because of its visual nature, Instagram greatly helps businesses such as restaurants and coffee shops and with over 400 million active users, it isn’t going anywhere anytime time soon.

The benefits may not immediately mean a direct increase financially for a restaurant but instead raising brand awareness in the community or improving reputation, ultimately benefitting the bottom line in the long term. Follow the tips below to make the best of this social network for your business:

Pick the right username

Do not, under any circumstances, pick a username or handle that does not include your business name. Business owners often make the mistake of using their personal names or other titles for the social media accounts, but it should reflect your business name as closely as possible. That way, when users go to search your business they’ll have an easier time finding you.

Chronicle All Aspects of the Restaurant’s Operations

Take photos of appetizers, entrées, desserts, dining-room ambiance, staff members and behind-the-scenes operations. Show pictures of the staff serving customers, having fun or preparing for big events. Post photos and short videos regularly to draw an audience and keep them returning. Write brief captions to ask for feedback or explain the photos.

Introduce New Foods or Signature Beverages

Instagram is an ideal platform for sharing quickly because managers don’t need to write and proofread copy. Take photos of any new menu items or an amazing molecular beverage concoction from the bar to inspire regulars and newcomers to try the items.

Promotion Through Competitions

Competitions are a great way to generate business and general interest in what’s going on for your community’s food lovers. Competitions build excitement and can be related to a specific calendar event, such as Christmas In July, or you may choose to offer a series of events for which a competition is a part. The best photo of your restaurants signature dish can draw an enormous amount of interest. Don’t forget, people are now used to using their new found skills and believe they are quite adept at taking really good shots. Take advantage of your customer’s willingness to expose your restaurant in the best light.

Share Photos with Other Sites

Sharing photos on the company website and other social media platforms attracts more people and increases the chances that a unique moment will go viral. Instagram gives restaurants and customers many options for sharing on Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, Foursquare, Twitter and emails.

Promote Restaurant Involvement with Festivals and Fairs

Be sure to take plenty of photos at special events, fairs, trade shows and festivals. If the company has a booth, take photos and post them to let customers and curious Instagram users know where to find the stall. Use photos to capture the live excitement at an event or even show on-site disasters like rain-outs or booth collapses. Off-site catered events are another opportunity to market the restaurant’s services, cakes and pastries, and signature foods.

Narrate a Story with Images

Photos can report a story with minimal captioning. Follow the progress of a remodeling project, major catering event, natural disaster or day-in-the-life of a busy restaurant. Use Instagram posts to tell people about the company’s history, charitable work or special events