How To Make Instagram Stories Powerful For Restaurants? -

How To Make Instagram Stories Powerful For Restaurants?

Instagram Stories are not a new thing. They were introduced in 2016 and now 70% of Instagram users watch Stories daily. However, only 36% of businesses promote their products in Stories. That creates a big opportunity to make Instagram Stories powerful for your restaurant.

In case you are not sure what Instagram Stories are, they are ephemeral content that disappears 24 hours after posting. They include photos and videos that are visible to your followers or to specific users to whom you send the Story. The Stories are separate from the normal feed and can be found in the gallery on top of your Instagram home tab.

What makes good Instagram Stories for restaurants?

It’s relevant to your restaurant.

Your Instagram Stories should be closely related to your restaurant and its brand personality. You want your followers to have a clear picture of the food and drinks you serve, the vibe you create, and the initiatives you run.

You can and should also post about new collaborations or special events if they help your brand. However, posting or reposting random things will only make your followers confused.

It’s interesting to your followers.

As you run your Instagram account and analyze which posts had the best engagement, you also gradually learn about your followers’ likes and tastes. As a result, you should be able to identify the topics and types of posts that your followers enjoy most. Is it food-focused content or maybe highlighting your employees gives you the most likes? Is it video or images? You can find some inspiration regarding Instagram content here.

Once you pinpoint the content that your followers prefer, you can use this knowledge to create the best Instagram Stories for your restaurant. 

It stands out from the crowd.

Quite a lot of businesses, and restaurants in particular, post Instagram Stories. Because of this, you should focus your efforts on making the Stories stand out. After all, what is the point of doing it at all if nobody pays attention or remembers what you posted?

The next sections will cover the types of Stories you can post and some tactics to implement in order to make your Stories stand out.

Types of content to post on Instagram Stories

1. Behind the scenes content

People love to see how restaurants work behind the scenes. You can show what cooks do before and during service on a regular basis. Alternatively,  you can create special content where the chef teaches viewers how to prepare a dish that you serve in your restaurant. That could be extremely valuable for your followers and the added benefit for them is that it’s FREE.

Furthermore, you can use Instagram Stories to show a sneak peek into new initiatives. Let’s say you introduce a new seasonal menu. You can post Stories the week before with photos of the new dishes, and you can create one longer video of the chef talking about the menu and/or making one dish. The goal is to create excitement among your customers even before they come to your restaurant.

2. Polls & questions

Your content has to engage the viewers. One of the easier ways to do it is by including polls and open-ended questions. If you use polls, you can ask a question and give two possible answers, while the viewers pick one of them. Thus, you can ask your followers which dish they would rather order, which wine you should serve as a special, or if they like the new restaurant design. 

Similarly, you can include a quiz, which is similar to a poll but has more than two options. On the other hand, in the open-ended questions, you can ask what their favorite dish, wine, or wine and food pairing is, and so on.

If you want to include a poll or a question, just click on the Sticker button at the top of your Story and pick the one you want. 

3. Lists and roundups 

Another way to use Instagram Stories for restaurants is by creating lists and roundups. You can create a list by adding a few Stories in a row. This way, your followers will want to see all your Stories to get to the top of the list. 

The lists can include anything from favorite dishes to the best Halloween costumes. As I mentioned, there is no button for them, so you just create a few Stories and post them one by one. Make sure you start with an explanation of what you’re going to post.

4. User-Generated Content

Reposting posts or Stories created by your customers is a very popular type of Instagram Stories for restaurants. That is for two good reasons. First, you are building social proof and showing that your customers are enjoying their visits to your restaurant. This is very important because word of mouth is probably the most important marketing strategy out there. A word of month impression results in 5 times more sales than paid media impression! 

The second reason for reposting your customers’ content is to make people feel special and appreciated. And who doesn’t like that? You want to tag the person who posted the content in order for them to see that you highlighted their post.

5. Highlight local happenings

Your restaurant is a part of the community and you should make sure that you support your neighbors. For instance, if there is a public event in the park nearby or a street festival, you can post about it in your Story. Of course, if you participate in any of these events, you should cover them more closely in a post or a few Stories. However, even if you have nothing to do with it, you can let your customers know about it.

6. Countdowns

Adding a countdown timer can increase revenue by 9%! Therefore, if you are running any special offers or promotions, you should include the countdown sticker in your Story. It could work particularly well if the special offer can be applied online, for example, while ordering food delivery. 

7. Contests and giveaways

A little rivalry and a chance to get something for free are big triggers for customers. The reward for you is that people will get more engaged, watch your Stories more, and remember about you next time they want to go out. 

You might say that you can’t afford to offer huge prizes. I have good news for you then – it’s not really about the prize. You can offer a free bottle of wine with dinner for the winner. Your cost is probably around $15, but you will make the winner spend much more on food.

Moreover, the contest can be about anything from the best photo taken at your restaurant to the best song or poem about it.

The key is to make it easy to participate in and not very time-consuming. After all, the effort people put into it will match the potential reward.

Tactics to make your restaurant’s Instagram Stories stand out

1. Make them compelling.

Given that you only have a second or two to grab your followers’ attention, make sure your restaurant’s Instagram Stories compel people to keep watching by:

  • Using bright, contrasting colors in your fonts or overlays
  • Including a person or someone’s face to make an instant emotional connection
  • Capturing interesting or unfamiliar settings (nature, crowds, etc.)

The last one might prove difficult if you are located in an urban environment, but you can create interesting settings inside your restaurant. For example, including plants in your videos or photos can make the setting look different and more inviting. 

2. Add stickers and mentions.

You want as many people as possible to see your Stories. In order to make it happen, you should include location stickers, hashtags stickers, and mentions. That way you can be featured in the Explorer tab. To add them, click on the Sticker icon on top of your Story and pick the ones you want to include.

3. Include Calls to Action.

Your Stories should have a purpose. Are you trying to guide the viewers to visit your website, make a reservation, or see your latest Instagram post? Whatever it is, you have to make it clear.

You are competing for your followers’ attention with numerous Stories. So once you have it, you should take advantage of it. If you have over 10,000 followers, you can include the Swipe Up option, which takes users to whatever link you want them to go to.

However, don’t fret if have fewer followers; you can encourage the viewers to click on the link in your bio. Just make this Call to Action stand out and repeat it on multiple Stories. 

4. Always edit your Stories before posting.

Instagram Stories are short-lasting and more casual than posts, but you should still maintain content’s high quality. Therefore, posting random or low-quality photos and videos to seem more “personable” is not a good idea. There are a lot of great tools that you can use to easily edit your Stories and make them beautiful, for example:

  • Canva – a versatile and popular photo editor. It has a huge collection of templates and stock images that you can use.
  • InShot – this video and photo editor app provides a lot of easy-to-use features. You can control speed and add music, text, stickers, emojis, and more.
  • Adobe Spark – it allows users to add video clips or combine pictures to make a video Story; it can also be used to add effects to pictures. There are several sounds, fonts, animations, and other design effects that you can add.
  • Story Art – this app is very easy to use as it provides a huge variety of preset templates; you can also add text with varying fonts, filters, themes, and other design effects.
  • Photo Grid – this is a simple, easy-to-use app to make picture or video collages for your Instagram Stories. 
  • Typorama – if you are looking for an app that lets you quickly add attention-grabbing text over your Story images, this is it.

5. Add Story highlights to your profile.

Since you put so much effort into your Instagram Stories, you should make them last. Adding Story Highlights to your profile will let more people see your Stories, even months and years after posting.

The great thing about Story Highlights for restaurants is that you can showcase your menu, beverage program, special events, private parties, and much more. 

To add Story highlights, just go to your profile and click the “Story Highlights” button located right below your bio, and click on “+ New”. Then, you can create various highlight topics and add your Stories to them. 

6. Try Instagram Stories Ads.

You can reach more potential customers by advertising on Instagram Stories. The advertising competition on Stories is still lower than in the regular feed, which is an opportunity to grab your target audience’s attention. 

To set up an advertising campaign on Instagram Stories, you go through the regular process on Facebook Ads Manager. Then, when you set up the Ad set, you pick Instagram Stories as your placement. Due to the difference in image sizes between the feed and the Stories, I would recommend creating separate Ad sets. This also gives you an opportunity to analyze which placement option works better for your restaurant. 

7. Get other people involved.

One tactic that a lot of businesses in the hospitality industry are using is Instagram Stories collaborations. You can invite your wine or beer distributors, neighborhood restaurants, or food suppliers to do an Instagram Live together and promote it on both profiles.

During this collaborative event, you can talk about various subjects, do a tasting, or whatever your followers would want to watch (you can do an Instagram Story poll or quiz beforehand to find out!). The point is to do something valuable for your audience and grow your and your collaborator’s following. 

8. Design the Stories for sound off and on.

Last but not least, remember that some people watch Instagram Stories with sound on, but others have the sound turned off. To be more specific, around 60% of Instagram Stories are played with sound

That means that the videos you post should be shot with sound on and that you should add subtitles to them. You can do that quite easily by adding text in the Story itself or in one of the tools I introduced earlier. 


In conclusion, Instagram Stories and restaurants are made for each other. You can make sure that Instagram Stories for restaurants are effective by following three requirements:

  • They are relevant to your offer
  • They are interesting for your audience
  • They stand out from the crowd

The first two requirements are quite easy to fulfill, but the third one needs more work. After all, you compete against numerous people and businesses. However, there are some guidelines you can follow to make your content eye-catching:

  • Use bright colors
  • Include people and faces
  • Add location and hashtag stickers and mentions
  • Include Calls to Action
  • Use an editing tool
  • Add Story Highlights
  • Try Instagram Stories Ads
  • Get other people involved
  • Design for sound on and off

Furthermore, if you’re not sure what type of content you should post, here are some ideas:

  • Behind-the-scenes content
  • Polls and questions
  • Lists and roundups
  • User-generated content
  • Local happening highlights
  • Countdowns
  • Contests and giveaways

I hope Instagram Stories for restaurants will not be a mystery for you anymore. Let me know in the comments if you have any other ideas regarding Instagram Stories for restaurants and if you agree or disagree with mine!

Blog, Restaurant Marketing