As an independent coffee shop, staying in front of your competition is never far from the agenda – whether that’s other independent stores or high street chains. The market is saturated, and demonstrating your value can be expensive when marketing your shop. But you don’t have to drain all your profits to attract your ideal customers.
Social media is completely free to use (except for your time, of course), and when done right, it can be a game-changer. And while there are plenty of channels to choose from, Instagram is the place to be when it comes to coffee. With over 1 billion active users every month, it’s perfect for showcasing your brand, generating leads, and connecting with your audience.
So, here are a few ways you can make use of Instagram when it comes to promoting your coffee shop…
Give your fans something to post
Instagrammable coffee shops are big news right now. Whether you like it or not, people will choose coffee shops not just because they serve great coffee but because of the vibe inside. Your coffee shop’s aesthetic is essential when it comes to social media promotion, too – so having a great-looking interior that people will want to snap and post for themselves will help you to get your coffee shop out there.
And if you’re worried your shop isn’t as ‘Instagrammable’ as you’d like – amazing latte art is cheaper than redecoration. Birds' eye view shots of perfectly poured latte art photos are always mesmerising and make for great social content.
Make use of highlights
Think of your Instagram profile as a portfolio of your work, with your highlights section being your ‘best bits’. Give people something of value here (this could be information on the roasters you use, locations of your shops – if you have more than 1, loyalty schemes, menus, recipes, etc). And remember, highlights aren’t just valuable to your customers – they’re great marketing tools for you as they allow you to curate the content you want your audience to see first.
Show your personality with Instagram reels
Reels have taken over Instagram, and the platform is actively pushing them. They typically receive about 22% more engagement than regular content, so you’d be a fool to ignore them. You might find you create a reel that gets 1,000+ views, while your latest post only got 10-20 likes. So whether you’re making ‘how to’ videos for latte art, a day in the life of a barista, or interesting facts about a particular coffee roast you use, reels are brilliant for growing your platform. Just make sure they’re entertaining AND informative (it’s not always about you).
Boost engagement with competitions
Instagram giveaways and competitions are brilliant ways to grow your account and, therefore, your reach (the number of people who see your content). The more people who find your profile, the more people are aware of your brand, so the more customers you’re likely to pull in.
You can get creative with this. You could ask people to snap a photo of their favourite beverage in your shop and post it with a specific hashtag for a chance to win x number of free coffees. Alternatively, go for something super simple like tagging a friend who needs to take them out for a coffee to be in with a chance of winning a free coffee date.
Just be sure one of your conditions is to share your post to their story and/or tag friends for maximum exposure.
Have a look at the possibility of using some local influencers. Check out your ‘tagged’ photos and see if there are people in your area with a following who post a lot of coffee content. Check they’re followed by others in your area and, if they are, reach out to them and ask if they’d like to work with you.
Depending on their following, they may ask for a small fee for x number of posts – and in some cases might just do it for some coffee on the house!
Instagram is the home of hashtags so use them! Many businesses will think that adding hashtags to their posts is enough to get the customers rolling in – but that’s not entirely true. You’ll need to engage with people actively. Search hashtags to find new accounts to engage with – like the posts, comment, and follow those accounts using them. You’ll likely get the same in return.
Geotagging is where you tag your location on your posts. It’s super simple to do but is often forgotten about. It’s important because it helps people find you when searching for new places to try in the area. You’ll show up on the search page every time someone is searching that location, so you’ll be more likely to get pull in new punters.
Interact with your audience
It’s not enough to merely follow people anymore. Even liking posts doesn’t get you very far. You need to be making sure you’re commenting on posts from people you follow, as well as replying to comments on your posts. This can be time-consuming, but it does pay dividends. When you do this, Instagram will recognise you have more of a connection with these people and your posts are more likely to show at the top of their Instagram feeds. You might be tempted to use an app or programme that does this for you – don’t! Instagram will recognise this inauthentic behaviour and will shut down your account – the opposite of what we’re going for here!
So there you have it – 8 ways you can use Instagram to help promote your coffee shop and bring in new customers. And the great thing about Instagram is that it doesn’t always have to be you posting the content… With the right mixing pot of aesthetics, customer service, and fantastically brewed coffees, your customers can quickly become loyal fans, AKA your very own social media content creators, saving you both time and money!