How to Promote Your Food Business on Instagram

August 4, 2021
Clock Icon 5 min read

Instagram is an American photo and video sharing social networking service, and since its creation in 2012, the app has grown massively in popularity. Instagram has over a billion users so naturally, it is a great way to reach a wide audience and connect with customers. The tag #food also has over 327 million posts, so it is clear that the app plays a big part in promoting such goods. 

Pictures of your extravagant-looking lunch, a slideshow series of your friend’s newborn that nobody asked for and making your followers jealous of your latest trip abroad, Instagram has a plethora of uses – granted some being more useful than others. One which has shone through in recent years is the rise of using Instagram to make money, in conjunction with businesses – and especially, food businesses.

With an uptake in home food businesses, meal kit companies and online food delivery services over recent years – and particularly following the pandemic – there has been a huge surge in people turning to Instagram to post about their work and sell their products.

In this article, we will outline the importance of Instagram for food businesses, explain the food safety guidelines for using the platform to sell goods, and discuss how best to market and promote your business on this extremely popular app.


Why is Instagram Important for Food Businesses?

In the tech-ruled world we live in, social media plays a huge role in marketing and promoting goods and businesses to consumers. Instagram has many different features, too, such as stories, posts, reels and Instagram TV. Utilising a number of different features will allow you to reach an even wider audience, and keep people engaged with a variety of content. You can even keep people updated in real time with the use of Instagram live.

By effectively utilising these features, Instagram has the potential to bring many benefits to your business. It can help turn your passion or hobby into a career, and often food businesses start out as the latter. Knowing how to monetize it is key, and effectively using Instagram plays a key role in this.

There are many benefits for all avenues of food businesses. Below we have sectioned them out to give you some guidance on how to utilise the app per your businesses.

Restaurants

Millenials are 99% more likely to rely on social media and online reviews than Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers. 30% of Millennials will also avoid restaurants with a weak Instagram presence. Therefore, it is important that you put effort into making your account something that is a true reflection of your business – showing delicious food, aesthetics of your restaurant design and much more.

Engaging with your customers is also very important – can’t decide on how you want to plate up a dish? Perhaps you could add a photo of both options to your Instagram story and let your customers decide on a poll. Or you can do a post letting people know what your specials are that week, so they know prior to arriving.

There are several marketing strategies that are beneficial for restaurants to use, such as:

  • Create a restaurant hashtag. This is what people can tag when they post a picture of their visit. Then when people search that hashtag, all posts in relation to your business will come up. 
  • Partner with influencers and food bloggers. Have them come for a meal at your restaurant. From here they will post about their experience to their wide audience and hopefully bring in new customers for you.
  • Run competitions and giveaways. These are very common on instagram. You could do ones that allow people to win a free meal or some merchandise. If you decide to do this you just need to have:
  • A prize.
  • The method of entry.
  • How you select the winner.
  • How the winner redeems the prize.
  • Terms and conditions.

Home Food Businesses

For those setting up their own food businesses, trying to keep expenses down is often a key priority in the early days. Using Instagram as your primary way to promote your business can be very advantageous and cheap – far cheaper than setting up a high quality website.

You can use Instagram to broadcast your company to a wider audience, and thus gain traction at a fragment of the cost – compared to other forms of promotion. It is not essential, but food hygiene training may be beneficial – it tends to give customers peace of mind, and ensures you are following best practice. It can also demonstrate the professionalism of your business.

Our comprehensive Level 2 Food Hygiene and Safety Training course will provide you with all the information you need regarding food safety systems such as HACCP and ensure that you’re confident in your knowledge of how to sell food safely.

 Food Bloggers

It is no secret that Instagram and influencers go hand in hand, whether it’s promoting teeth whitening strips, a clothing line, or the new best meal delivery kit. These social media marvels and foodies alike know how to make food look extravagant, desirable, and down right delicious.

The hashtag #foodblogger has an astonishing 58.3 million posts on Instagram, so it is no surprise that anyone looking to up their instagram game might explore this avenue. Food blogging can range from cooking and posting blogs, to food reviewing blogs. To find out more, click the link below:

How to Become a Food Blogger: Tips & Ideas


Can You Sell Food on Instagram?

Whilst not the case for everyone who promotes their food business on Instagram, some do also like to take it a step further and actually sell via the app. It can be a quick and easy means of selling your goods and services to customers; however, you must ensure that you are doing so safely and abiding with the law. Selling food online requires proper registration or there can be severe consequences – not only for business owners but also the health and wellbeing of customers.

If you are selling food through social media platforms, you must still follow the same laws and regulations as any other food businesses. You may be a restaurant that is already registered and looking to sell meal kits, or perhaps you are a fresh out the box food business selling cupcakes. No matter what your business is,you need to be registered as a food business. This means that you will have to register with your local authority and file for a self-assessment with HMRC as a sole trader. 

With the growing popularity and ease of selling via social media platforms such as Instagram, there have been reported cases of people being penalised for illegally selling. Many times, this is due to the businesses not being officially registered.  

Registering as a food business is quick and simple to do. On the government website, you can use the postcode finder to help you find which local authority to seek help from. Here, they will be able to provide you with clear instructions on where to apply to obtain your license.

You must also consider the safety of your customers when selling food online. You must ensure that you have information about what ingredients have been used to make the food and where they come from. This is particularly important in regards to allergens. To learn more on this take a look at our Food Allergen Awareness Training

Furthermore, Natasha’s Law also raises many concerns over food allergens, labelling. Customers can’t read the packaging of the product they are buying on Instagram, nor is there a description tab to read through unlike other sites. 

Therefore, there must be some signal of ingredients to ensure safety. As a distance seller this allergen information must be made available to the customer both at the point of purchase and at delivery. To read more, check out our Allergen Regulations for Takeaways and Distance Sellers article.

Instagram states that you can sell using their app, so long as you meet the following requirements:

  1. Comply with their policies. 
  2. Represent your business and your domain.
  3. Be located in a supported market.
  4. Demonstrate trustworthiness.
  5. Provide accurate information and follow best practices.

How Do You Market & Promote Food on Instagram?

Having a business account is an excellent way to productively market your brand. You can also get real-time insights to your account’s data. This means you can track your accounts performance to learn what content performs well, and what content may need adjusting to ensure you are reaching a wider audience.

It is important to note that before you even begin to think about setting up your account, making it business or starting to sell via the shop tab,you must first ensure that you have a strong business name and possibly an identifiable logo.

To set up a business account, you should already have an Instagram account set up. This can be a new one if you wish, but you can also simply turn your existing personal account into a business one if you would prefer. So once you have your Instagram account, follow these steps below to turn it into a business insights marvel:

  • Go to settings, and select account. 
  • Tap ‘switch to professional account’. 
  • Pick a category that best describes your business.
  • Select business, and you’re all set up!

As well as business accounts, Instagram has other features that also help businesses promote their business on their app. The shop tab allows Instagram users to connect with brands and creators. By using this feature you can give your brand a customizable storefront for people to explore your best products, as they are easily pinned as seen on posts and made so it is easy to follow your account and buy your products. You can also add product tags to your photos to help shoppers.

This is so people may easily identify you across other social media platforms and beyond. Take a look at our course to learn more about the do’s and don’ts of Social Media Marketing.

Making Your Food Instagram Famous

Food Instagram’s and food business brands who have accounts are not hard to come by these days. However, a few accounts do fall into a particular niche – ones that gain traction and, subsequently, a large following. These accounts tend to find success by:

  • Posting frequently.
  • Posting relevant content. 
  • Making sure posts are ‘Instagrammable’. This is down to a number of factors like colours, slow motion cheese pulls, chocolate pours, and much more.

Examples of brands who have used social media to their advantage and fallen into the category of ‘Instagram famous’ are @browniegod and @thesavvybaker_. Both accounts have followers in tens of thousands – and show no signs of slowing down! 


Instagram Marketing Tips for Your Food Business

So far we’ve looked at the basics of Instagram, its importance and how valuable it can be. An astonishing 95 million photos and videos are uploaded to Instagram every day! A large portion of these are in relation to food and drink, so it is important that your content stands out.

This section of the article will provide you with a series of quick tips on how to promote your food business. Use these to bring your Instagram game to the next level and set you apart from the competition.

As previously touched on, some steps to take to ensure you are effectively promoting your food business on Instagram are:

  • Use food and drink ‘holidays’. Plan your content for portions or times of the year, for  ‘food holidays’ like world vegan day, etc. They tend to gain a lot of interest and views when it rolls around to that date. You can use this to your advantage by dedicating one or more posts to it. This can also be done with holidays like Christmas, Eid and Valentines day.
  • Utilise appropriate hashtags. This is a key way to ensure your content reaches a wide audience. For example, using the ‘#cupcake’ on a post would mean that if someone searches for that hashtag, your post may then show – even if they do not follow you. Other general examples of hashtags you could use to increase who will see your content are: #cooking #foodbusiness. Besides this it is usually a good rule of thumb to hashtag in your field, so for example, using #mealprep if your company makes meal prep boxes or meal prepped meals. You can also go onto similar accounts who do well and see what they have tagged. 
  • Ensure high quality photos. With Instagram being primarily a photo sharing platform, it is important to make sure that your content is of a high standard. You can do so by ensuring you take photos or videos using natural lighting, use an appropriate backdrop for the shot to help it stand out and don’t overcomplicate shots. This is especially true when trying to sell products as customers should know what exactly they are looking at. 

Making Use of All the Features Instagram Has to Offer

  • Stories, which are photos or videos that stay on your profile for 24 hours. These are good to use for perhaps new product drop teases etc. Once the 24 hours have elapsed, you can add stories to highlights on your profile. You can make separate highlights for separate topics to make it easier for customers to navigate.  
  • Reels (similar to TikTok) allow you to showcase short snippets of your business and the behind the scenes. 
  • IGTV is where you can post longer videos, such as cook along videos, or Q&A’s.

We hope you found this article to be a useful insight into the ever growing and business savvy side of Instagram. As always, if you have any questions feel free to get in touch with our team. High Speed Training offers a wide variety of courses and resources that can help.


Further Resources:

Starting A Home Food Business Course

How to Start a Food Business From Your Home

Food Packaging Materials: Regulations & Different Types