Use Instagram To Get Customers

Instagram is all about creativity, or at least that’s what they’d like you to believe. Anyone who finds their smartphone photo-taking skills to be sub-par, take heart! Instagram offers other creative opportunities that you can take advantage of to grow your customer base. If you’re in the food industry, you should be marketing your business on IG (Instagram), and we’re going to show you how.

For this example, we’re going to use a restaurant where we actually eat. If you’re not a restaurateur but still want to get more customers with IG, you can still use this guide—be creative.

Getting Started – How to Create Your Account

*If you’re already familiar with IG basics, skip down to Marketing on Instagram.

Instagram is rooted in mobile. Therefore, most of the following steps need to be completed using a mobile device with IG installed. So set up an account, and please keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose a branded username – Remember that people will be searching using what makes sense to them.
  • Select a high-quality profile photo – A branded pic that looks OK when it’s tiny. It doesn’t HAVE to be your logo.
  • Add your website – Don’t use a URL shortener. Write a pithy bio – This isn’t a tell-all novel. Think in headlines. Think with verbs. Include your physical address. Be mindful of your limit to 150 characters.
  • Search and Follow – Take a few minutes to search for like-minded businesses and people to follow.

You’re set up! Now let’s get those customers!


You knew it was going to come up sooner or later. Hashtags are how you search on IG. Try it! Use the spyglass to search (*since the time of this post, IG has changed its interface. The nautical star that was once used for searching has been replaced with a spyglass).

Type your business name with no spaces. Make sure the search feature is set to Hashtags:

Check it out!—people are already talking about your business! Make sure to search related hashtags, because if you don’t have a well-known or official hashtag, folks will create their own.

Location tags

Tap the photos you searched in the step above until you find one that has a location tag:

Tap the location tag, and you’ll get a similar search results page to the one we just covered with hashtags. All these photos have been uploaded by users who have used the GPS feature of IG at your business. How cool is that?!

That covers the basics of IG (ironically, not covering photography) for posting and finding customer pics that mention you. Now to get more customers! 

Marketing on Instagram

Remember those search results pages with all the photos taken at your establishment? Click on each one and Like each picture and Follow each user who posted a picture. Then, steal those photos and re-post them on your account. There are a few different ways to ‘steal’ these photos and encourage your community at the same time:

Option 1

Use an app like Repost for Instagram (iOS) which will put a graphic on the photo letting everybody know you are re-posting someone else’s content. If using this method, make sure to watch out for the text formatting, as the app includes the caption from the original post and it can get a little wonky. Feel free to delete text, other than the user’s name and the #repost. 

Option 2

Old-fashioned screenshot and crop. There’s nothing wrong with this method and it’s simpler to start.

Now re-post those photos, giving credit to the original photographer, by tagging (put an @ symbol and start typing his IG username) him in the caption saying something like:

“Love the shot, @mayvillain. Didn’t realize you were such a fan of the mollusk. Right on.” 

This is all about getting your name out into the digital community and getting the conversation started with those that are already fans. Then their friends and followers can also see you interacting and it just might pique their interest. Every Like and Comment you receive in response to your outreach is like a breadcrumb leading back to photos of your wares and items on your website. Since you won’t have a large IG following at first, use people who already do. It works because everybody gets a twinge of excitement when a brand @mentions him on the Internet. Isn’t a little recognition the whole point of why the pics were posted in the first place?

Repeat the process (hashtag and location tag search) with ten of your competitors. Like and Comment on those photos (without stealing and re-posting) with something like “Looks delicious, we’ll have to try it soon! We have a similar dish, and we cordially invite you to tell us which dish reigns supreme.” There’s also the concept of showing genuine interest in someone else’s work. Just sayin‘. Again, it works because everyone loves their 5 minutes of Internet Fame!

This process will put your restaurant top of mind with sales-ready prospects. Try it out, what have you got to lose? Besides potential customers, of course.

Find us on IG and let us know how these tips worked out for you! We want to hear from you!