1. Sign Up for a Business Account
Business accounts allow owners to include a phone number, an email address, a website and a physical address, ensuring followers can contact and locate the bakery. A business account also provides access to Instagram Insights which lets owners see metrics like impressions (the total number of times a post was seen) and reach (the number of unique users who saw a post) to help bakeries measure the success of their posting strategies, says Sara Lancaster, founder and creative director at food marketing firm The Condiment Marketing Co.
2. Make Mouths Water
Every successful food-related Instagram account has one thing in common, according to Lancaster: “Beautiful, mouth-watering food photos.” Bakeries don’t have to work with a professional food photographer to create great images. The latest generation of smart phones feature excellent camera technology that’s really simple to use. Key points to note include making sure there is enough light, elimination of shadows and extraneous background, and making sure the image is in focus. Instagram reaction is often instant (hence the name) so make sure your team know what’s being posted in advance so that they’re prepared for the rush!
3. Use Hashtags
Good pictures are crucial but they’re useless if people don’t see them. Hashtags work as a search tool. Think about what customers would search for and test. Also check which hashtags are used by Instagram accounts of bakeries or restaurants that have a lot of followers. “Research shows that three hashtags [per post] garners the most engagement,” Lancaster says. “You should have one branded hashtag, one location hashtag and one descriptive hashtag to cover your bases.”
4. Post Regularly
How much a bakery posts can matter just as much as what it posts. Try not to post more than once a day but try to make sure you post at least once a day – consistency helps maintain followers. Trial and error is the best approach to pinpointing an ideal posting frequency. “Test posting at different times of day and days of the week to see what will get you the most engagement,” Lancaster says. At the bare minimum, post once a week, she advises.
5. Use Stories and Highlights
Having advised not to post more than once a day to your grid, use stories several times a day to highlight mentions, tell product and campaign stories and share moments from bakery life. Your goal is to constantly keep the story rainbow around your Instagram avatar. Instagram users can choose whether to follow your bakery and can access your stories as and when they choose rather than having their feed cluttered with too many grid images. Good stories will keep followers coming back for more.
For example, on Halloween (a profitable time for most bakeries) populate your Instagram story with shots of Halloween themed products, staff (and customers) in costume and a short video of your bakery decorations. Film and post customer reactions. Images of a product at various stages of production – raw ingredients, mixing, baking, decoration – also make great stories.
You can also choose images from your stories and add them to highlights – Halloween, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Easter, Chocolate, Spices, Cupcake Decoration.
6. Talk Back
Instagram is a two-way street. “Reply to every mention, like and re-gram, to further your reach. When a follower comments on an image, include his or her username in the reply to ensure the person sees the response. This is free marketing,” Lancaster says. She adds, rather than ignore or delete negative comments, see if you can engage. Transparency can be as important as rave reviews. “Keep it short and upbeat.” If a customer asks a question or needs information that requires a long explanation, encourage the person to call or email the bakery.