There’s no denying it, when it comes to cafe marketing, Instagram is red hot right now. Whether you're just starting out, or you've been in the cafe business for a while, this list of tips and examples can help take your Instagram game up a notch.

1. Quality Matters

Instagram is a visual platform, and the quality of your images & videos is a reflection on your business. If you have a friend / staff member / customer who has the skills and the gear to do it well, why not get them to come in to do a photo shoot once every so often.

That way, you have a catalogue of images you use over weeks or months. Make it even easier by scheduling them in advance with a tool like Buffer (free for basic scheduling).

For improving smartphone photos, these tips can help:

  • Move out of the dark. Get some natural light on the product (or person) by moving near a window
  • Change the angle - try getting the camera right down to counter level, or shoot straight down from above for a different effect.
  • Use an app like VSCO to get full control over your phone’s camera
  • Add quality graphics using a free app like Canva (photos) or Legend (video - iOS only)

For some inspiration, our friends at The Hideout Coffee in QLD do an amazing job of great quality pics, like this one:

2. Create a theme on your page.

For cafes, consistency is a big deal. It’s not just the quality of your coffee or the attitude of your staff - your Instagram page is also a reflection of this. Using a consistent colour filter will help, along with making sure the message stays relevant to who you are. For example, if you’re all about high-end quality, it doesn’t make sense to be pushing 2-for-1 deals and posting memes.

A great example of doing this well is Fleur Du Luxe - a florist! Notice how the black and gold colour tones feature in different ways in each post. This consistent element adds to the sense of quality and luxury fleur du luxe instagram page

3. Use captions with personality

They could be witty & casual, simple & understated or anything in between. Captions are another reflection of the personality of your coffee shop and the people that make it what it is - so be yourself. While there are no hard and fast rules for captions, it is a good idea to ‘@’ mention friends / customers / celebrities (you get a few of them, right?) when they pop in, to get a conversation started.

Depending on your theme, using Emoji is a great way to draw attention to important words or phrases in your caption. Check out this beautiful post from The Press Shop in Bowral, NSW. A great image with a caption that shows the level of relationship they have with their customers:

We adored welcoming Hannah and Josh to our cafe last week. We are absolutely chuffed they chose us and our divine @cultivarbysevenmiles coffee to enjoy as their first coffee as husband and wife on their wedding day. We absolutely adore this idea of taking ten minutes to sit, breathe and devour the magic that was just created as you said I do. Such a gorgeous idea! Congratulations Hannah and Josh! ☕️💕 Repost @samantha.heather ・・・ There is so much to say and so much to share from Hannah & Josh's wedding. From being warmly welcomed into both their families, to witnessing the most epic flash mob on the dance floor. These two really had joy in the centre of their wedding and no doubt their marriage. They also took part in my personal favourite wedding tradition - taking time out away from the hustle and bustle to just hang out with each other over a cup of coffee. Their priorities are definitely in check, wouldn't you agree? 😘☕⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ •⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ •⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ •⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ •⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ •⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #samanthaheather#sydneyweddingphotographer#autumnwedding#countrywedding#forestwedding#sydneywedding#southernhighlandwedding #southernhighlandweddings #welltravelled#vscofeature#livefolk #coffeewedding#lifeofadventure#lookslikefilm#liveunscripted#socalitysydney#weddingseason#autumnbride#elopementphotographer#fearlessphotographers#destinationphotographer#wanderlust#letsgosomewhere#exploretocreate

A post shared by The Press Shop Bowral (@the_press_shop) on

4. Interact like you would behind a coffee machine

It’s called social media for a reason. The personal connections on Instagram should be just like the ones you have with customers in person. That means commenting on customers posts, reposting relevant content and most importantly - showing real people in your posts. it creates a emotional connection to the people who are viewing your business behind the phone's screen.

Emotional connections are powerful! Freja’s Cafe in Brisbane do a great job of this. It’s not just pictures of the food or the coffee shop, but a connection with the real people who make the business what it is.

5. Use the right hashtags to extend your audience

Hashtags are a useful way to extend the reach of your posts. Adding a mix of local geographic hastags (like #goldcoastcoffee), along with high traffic keywords (like #specialtycoffee or #latteart) Check out this post from our friends Stay Handsome Espresso in Kogarah, Sydney for a great example of how it’s done.

6. Keep it fresh with Stories

In case you're new to Instagram, ‘stories’ are the snippets that appear along the top of your screen when you open the app. They are usually video, and often contain interactive elements like polls, countdowns & sound effects.

Stories only last 24 hours, so they’re designed to be a snapshot of what’s happening right now. This is perfect for featuring daily specials or a local event, and give people a reason to pop in today. Here’s a little something we prepared earlier

instagram stories charity event promotion

7. Put your profile page to work

When people view your profile, it’s important to give them the info they need. Cafe Macquarie in Newcastle know how it’s done: opening hours, phone number, address, link to online ordering...nicely done! cafe macquarie instagram profile page

8. Run contests and exclusive deals

Yes, people love a good deal, and Instagram is an easy way to promote them. For example, if people tag a friend in the comments, you can offer a special code for a discount. A tactic like this can help you determine who’s engaging with your social media — as well as helping to spread the word.

Running photo and vote contests is another fun way to engage with your customers and give them the push they need to interact with your café Instagram account. You could get your followers to tag you in photos of latte art, or take a vote on their favourite meal you offer — and whoever wins receives a prize. Ether way, just make sure you're are familiar with Instagram's promotion guidelines before you get started. Here's an example of a recent Mother's Day competition we ran:

View this post on Instagram

WIN a Mother's Day coffee hamper for mum 🎁 This Mother's Day, many of us can't share a coffee with mum in person. That’s why we’re giving away this beautiful bespoke hamper (valued at $250). It’s packed with these amazing treats: - @treadsoftlyaus Australian Prosecco - Cheeseboard and pottery knife by Davis and Waddell - @cicada_chocolate Berry Crunch - @scentedpurpose Bloom Soy Candle - Hygge cotton snuggle socks - @raineandhumble Cotton Tea Towels - Seven Miles travel mug by @sttokeofficial - Seven Miles Coffee Beans - Seven Miles Coffee Pods How to enter: 👉 Follow @sevenmilescoffeeroasters 👇 Tag your mum & share 3 words that describe why she’s the best. Maybe she’s “kind, thoughtful & determined” or more of a “strong, smart & cheeky” mum. Either way, let her know how you feel & we’ll pick the best answer to win! Competition closes 11:59pm 10th May 2020. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Instagram. #sevenmiles #coffee #coffeemachines #coffeelovers #coffeebeans #lovecoffee #ethical #aussiecoffee #barista #coffeeroasters #caffeine #caffeinelover #coffeeshop #coffeetime #sustainable #organiccoffee #fairtrade #fairtradecoffee #barista #competition #giveaway #mothersday

A post shared by Seven Miles Coffee Roasters (@sevenmilescoffeeroasters) on

For more marketing inspiration, take a look at 12 cafe marketing ideas you can steal right now, it's full of other tactics and examples specifically for cafes & coffee shops. If you're just starting out in the Cafe Business, take a look at our Step-by-Step guide to opening a cafe - and grab the checklist to help get you started on the right foot.