There is no substitute for great food in the restaurant business. However, customers have so many options these days that great food is not enough. You need reasons for them to want to come to your shop.
For many customers, that reason is to post about it on Instagram. Social media may seem like a frivolous thing for you to consider when designing your restaurant, but it’s quickly becoming a powerful tool for restaurants to capitalize on. Are you using an Instagram bot? You should be. Every influencer and business under the sun uses them.
The Power of Instagram
Instagram is changing restaurant design because it’s changing the customer experience and expectations. When someone goes out to eat, they don’t just want food. If they did, they might stay home and order delivery. They want the experience of visiting a memorable space, eating a good meal, and taking photos of the food and the space so they can share that online.
There is no online platform where this is more embraced than Instagram. Users want to take short video clips to post in their stories and fun photos of their meal and themselves.
When you have a well-designed restaurant for Instagram, you have an advertising goldmine. Word of mouth has always been a powerful source of traffic in the restaurant business. When you have a space people are excited to post about online, you have a natural opportunity for your customers to advertise your business on Instagram.
As you move forward with all of your design choices, keep your brand and customers in mind. Are you bringing in hipsters for a weekend vegan brunch? Are you serving weeknight dinners to families? Are your customers couples looking for a romantic weekend dinner date? In all of your design choices, think about what your ideal customer will most want to take photos of to tell their friends about.
Not only do customers need good lighting for the photographs they want to take, but lighting can be used to draw the eye. Experienced Instagrammers dislike direct lighting, so finding lighting options that can highlight artwork, colors, or anywhere you want your customer’s eyes to be drawn is a good idea. The light should be strong enough to still lighten the space.
If you have the opportunity for skylights or other opportunities for natural lighting, take advantage of that.
Customers want warm lighting. You are looking for a golden glow, as opposed to a cold, stark white lighting that gives off heavy contrast in photos.
As mentioned above, consider your brand when you are choosing light fixtures. Modern, funky, fixtures with sparkles and artwork on the lampshades will draw a different crowd than Edison light bulbs or fixtures you can find at an antique shop. These types of details can turn into something people post about on their social media.
To maximize the amount of space you have, it’s a common practice to create a grid pattern and use every inch of space possible. While this may be cost efficient, it is not popular with Instagrammers who don’t want to take photos with other customers in the background.
For Instagram-friendly restaurant design, sit at your tables yourself and attempt to take photos of yourself and the food on the table. Are you having a fun time, or are you frustrated trying to find the right angle?
Your restaurant design should be cohesive to create an experience, fit your brand, and give your customers an easy way to explain to their followers what’s cool about your space. Social media is becoming such a big part of the restaurant experience that many people will put Instagrammable restaurants as a top part of their travel list. Most of the world’s most popular restaurants with these crowds have clear themes, like a space that is entirely pink, or attracts people who love cats or flowers.
While you don’t have to have a theme, cohesive design matters. Choose a color scheme and stick to it. Do you have a modern design or are you using antiques? From your tables to your wall decor, make sure the elements of your space makes sense together.
Your entire space doesn’t need to be full of wild oddities, but having a few unique elements, and space for people to take photos near them, can go a long way. For example, a statue near the entryway where people can take fun photos while they wait to be seated. You can add artwork to the wall that draws the eye. You can find a lot of one-of-a-kind options for your restaurant at thrift stores or online marketplaces like Etsy.
Ultimately, when you are deciding on a menu, designing the inside of your restaurant, or even deciding the hours your business will be open, you are working to create a memorable experience for your customers that will keep them happily coming back for more. Prioritize the customer experience for your business and you will be on the right track to a space customers will want to tell their friends about and post photos of on Instagram.