The Instagram effect - how the platform has divided the industry


The Instagram effect - how the platform has divided the industry

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Love it or hate it, there's no getting away from the fact that Instagram is one of the most popular social networks out there. With a community of 800m users, 500m of which use the platform every day, when you dine in any trendy hospitality venue these days, you're very likely to spot at least one guest snapping a bird's eye view pic of their brunch to add to their gallery.

However, the rise of the amateur food photographer has divided the industry.

Earlier this month, a report by BigHospitality revealed that founder of The Waterside Inn, Michel Roux, had put up a sign banning photos. He was said to want guests to focus on the food served in his three-Michelin-starred restaurant, rather than trying to get the perfect Instagram shot.

Additionally, research from restaurant booking site OpenTable revealed that more than eight in ten Brits would welcome a 'no phone zone' in restaurants, with 90% stating it was rude to use phones at the table. However, before you follow Roux's lead, bear in mind the research also found that a third of the nation would ask for a restaurant's Wi-Fi code before ordering, and a lack of Wi-Fi would put two in five guests off a venue.

Those in the industry who do sing Instagram's praises are the operators who know how to use it for promotion. Instagram is widely used by operators to showcase their product, build their online brand and engage their community. Our research has revealed that 58% of guests would feel more inclined to visit a restaurant they had interacted with on social media and 49% of guests would visit a venue's social media page before visiting every time or most of the time - the powers of a well-executed Instagram account should not be underestimated.

A report in The Caterer highlighted how hotels are successfully using carefully curated feeds of professional images and beautifully shot videos to gain followers and generate a buzz. The Ned in London earned more than 38,000 followers with their efforts in just nine months, plus its use of Instagram Stories to market events in real-time allows followers a sneak peek behind the scenes and the chance to feel like part of the community, no matter where in the world they might be.

If your business wants to utilise Instagram for promotion, it's not just paramount to get the images you post right, you need to focus on creating deliberate opportunities for guests to take photos so that you can draw on an endless pool of user-generated imagery. Guests trust other guests more than business accounts, so if you use your loyal customers as advocates on Instagram, you could reap lucrative benefits. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

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