Hi Food Truckers! Welcome to Part V of our Social Media for Food Trucks series. Today we're focusing on Instaram!
Instagram is a visual, photo-based social media platform that you can only post to by using the app on your smart device. Each user posts one photo at a time with the option to include a caption and hashtags (more on this in a moment!), and these photos make up their "gallery." Much like Facebook, the idea as a business is to showcase what you do in the most appealing way possible, while attracting followers.
So step one is to make sure your photos are attractive!! Insta users love beautiful, well lit, well composed photographs. For best results, take photos in natural light (not directly sunlight- it's too harsh.)
"Tagging" other people in your posts varies by platform. We went over how to tag a business in a Facebook post in series III, whereas Instagram is slightly more complicated. There are multiple ways to tag your photo using Instagram:
1) You can tag your photo by adding a location as mentioned in series 3. This is called a "geo tag" where you are "tagging" the geographical location you're currently at. In most cases, you will need to have location services enabled for the app you are using before your phone will allow you to do this. (Check the settings on your device.)
2) You can tag another Instagram user in the photo itself by clicking "tag photo" and searching by username (ex. @tbftr.) Depending on how the account is set up, this will enable the photo to appear under the "Photos of You" section on the profile of the user you tagged. This should be used when you are actually displaying another user in a photo, or are participating in an event with them.
3) You can tag within the text of your caption in two ways: a) using a username (@tbftr) or b) by using a hashtag (#tbftr.)
The @ symbol before a username should be used to communicate one on one with people, as it creates a notification to that user letting them know someone is speaking to them. For example, Dochos Concession may post a photo captioned: "Great event with @tbftr tonight!" and we would respond "@dochosconcession Your amazing food made the evening!" If we just responded "Your amazing food made the evening!" without the "@dochosconcession" tag, they may not notice that we responded. So tagging when you answer is key.
Contrastingly, hashtags should be used to tag your photo as part of a larger conversation. For example, you may post a photo of your broken fridge with a caption like: "Oh no! Our refrigeration system failed last night…looks like we'll be starting over today. #caseofthemondays" The use of this #caseofthemondays hashtag will "tag" your post along with all other posts where someone used the same hashtag to show your photo as being a part of the same "conversation" about Monday bummers. This is also where using tags such as #foodtrucks #tampa, etc. are beneficial and can help you reach people who may be looking at photos tagged #tampa, but were not previously fans of your truck. There is a bit of an art to finding hashtags that both apply, and work for your truck. Try a few out and see what kind of response you get!
If you decide to use a hashtag specific to your truck, choose one hashtag for your truck and use it consistently. (For example, always stick with #cajuninatruck and do not switch between tags such as #inatruck.) Cajun in a Truck is a great example of a truck who does this correctly and uses Instagram very effectively! You can check their Instagram page for ideas on how to post: https://www.instagram.com/cajuninatruck/ (Note: to post photos to Instagram you cannot use the website, you have to use the app on your smart device.)
Encourage your customers to tag you in their photos on all platforms as well, and monitor the content. This is a great way to observe your business from the eyes of the public and watch for how your food is being served, received, the general customer experience, and anything that you are doing well, or that could be improved.
Have any questions? Is there an area we failed to cover? Let us know, and we would be happy to help you all market as effectively as possible. This isn't goodbye, as we'll be sharing more tips and tricks shortly.