+ who to follow on instagram | who should i follow | instagram marketing for restaurants | restaurant marketing | social media marketing | instagram business | instagram for your business | instagram for entrepreneurs | food industry | build your instagram | grow a following | brand marketing | build a following | instagram followers | target customers | increase traffic to restaurant

Restaurants: Who should I be following on Instagram?

Everybody talks about who follows you on Instagram. That dreaded follower number.  But did you know that who YOU follow on Instagram is just as important?

We have a tendency to follow our competitors and other restaurants.  But guess who you should actually be following?  Your potential customers.  It’s a really simple idea:  Follow your customers, engage with their content, increase your brand awareness, and ultimately get them to come into your restaurant.  But so many of us get caught in comparison game by following other restaurants.

I recommend doing an Instagram follow audit.  If you’re running a business on Instagram, then you need to treat it like a business.  Your feed shouldn’t be filled with friends from high school or irrelevant accounts.  And you shouldn’t be following thousands of accounts.  Keep it to 1,000 or less.  Any more than that looks spammy and doesn’t allow you to truly engage with the accounts in your feed.

While it’s okay to follow a few personal friends and a competitor here and there, the majority of who you follow should fall into the following categories:

1. Your ideal customers (55%)

Start following your target customer.  Who is the type of person who goes to your restaurant? Do they enjoy fine dining? Are they a sports fan? Do they live in the same neighborhood as your restaurant?

Find your ideal customer by following local hashtags they might be using, such as #nycfoodie or #edibledc.

Search for recent posts in your geographical area.  Find posts that might have been posted by an ideal client.  For example, did they take a photo of food and post it to Instagram?  Did they go to a local hockey game and you have sports bar?  They might be a great person to follow, regardless of how many followers they have.  They could be a potential customer and Instagram is this incredible place that allows you to communicate directly with a potential customer and where they can communicate directly with you.

Take advantage of it.

2. Local media (25%)

Start following local magazines, newspapers, and other online media, such as blogs and influencers.

Beyond following a magazine or newspaper’s home account, make sure to follow the specific editors that cover your niche.  Take the time to find out an editor’s beat and find their personal Instagram.  Target journalists and editors whose beat is the local restaurant scene.  Most editors these days are using Instagram as a business tool to connect with locals for their stories.  It’s likely that this editor’s account is public and that they are looking to engage with local businesses.

Influencers are increasingly becoming a marketing strategy for local restaurants.  Again, make sure that you’re following influencers in your niche.  Perhaps this means you should be targeting influencers who eat out frequently and whose followers go to them for restaurant recommendations.  If you’re a vegan restaurant, perhaps you should be targeting vegan influencers, regardless of whether or not they frequent restaurants.  Depending on the size of your city, the number of followers that an influencer has will vary, but I’d recommend following influencers with 5,000 or more followers.

3.  Business educators (20%)

Instagram is full of resources for entrepreneurs, businesses, and restaurants.  Whether it’s advice how to hire wait staff, bookkeeping, or marketing, you can find it on Instagram!

Instagram has become an incredible education tool that allows you to learn by reading educators’ posts, but also allows you to communicate with them directly.  If you have a business question, you can DM (direct message) them on Instagram. In my experience, they almost always get back to you.

By following educators, you can also build a community of other like-minded businesses like you and use them as resources.  Most educators have Facebook groups that allow you to pose questions to other businesses in your niche.

There’s a reason why your competitors aren’t on this list.  The problem with following only your competitors is that unintentionally or not, you will all start to post the same things and Instagram will become a sea of uninteresting and uninspiring food pictures. The other issue is that you’re not engaging with your potential customers.  This is the entire point of Instagram:  It’s direct to consumer and allows you to cultivate a relationship.

Instagram should be fun! And it’s okay to follow some awesome accounts out there!  But moral of the story, if following an account doesn’t add value to your business, chuck it.

who to follow on instagram | who should i follow | instagram marketing for restaurants | restaurant marketing | social media marketing | instagram business | instagram for your business | instagram for entrepreneurs | food industry | build your instagram | grow a following | brand marketing | build a following | instagram followers | target customers | increase traffic to restaurant

+ how to target potential customers for restaurants | how to find people on instagram by location | search by region | instagram marketing for restaurants | restaurant marketing | social media restaurant marketing | instagram business | instagram for your business | instagram for entrepreneurs | food industry | build your instagram | grow a following | brand marketing | build a following | instagram followers | target customers | increase traffic to restaurant

How to target customers by location on Instagram

How does a restaurant with a brick and mortar location target potential customers in their specific region?

It can be really difficult to do this over Instagram especially. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just run a search for all of the food lovers within a 5 mile radius?  Instead, you might be hashtagging your way into oblivion, coming across instagrammers all over the country, and going crazy because none of it is helping you to target local customers who will actually sit down and eat at your restaurant.

Here’s the good news, it’s easier than you think.  Here are my recommendations of how to find and target ideal customers on Instagram:

1.  Follow local hashtag

Follow region-specific hashtags that your potential customers may be using such as, #dcfoodie, #newforkcity, or #chicagoeats.

To follow a hashtag, search for the hashtag in the search bar, click on the result and then click follow. This will bring new posts into your home food that are posted by people using that hashtag.

What’s great about this is that it will push posts using that hashtag into your home feed, even if you do not follow that person.

When you see these posts in your feed, comment and engage with the person who posted it!  Maybe click over to their profile, follow them, or comment on a couple of their other photos.

Make sure that your comments have substance, don’t just post emojis.  If you engage with someone authentically, they’ll take notice and maybe even click over to your profile.

2.  Search for posts at other restaurants in your city

To search for posts at other locations, click the search icon, click places, and type in the name of a restaurant.  You can then see posts taken at that location.

You are looking for posts posted by customers, not posts posted by the restaurant.  Comment on those posts, click on who posted it, follow them, and engage with them. Authentically.

3. Engage with local customers who are currently online

To find potential customers who are most likely online, find posts that were posted in the last 10 minutes. To do this, search for a local hashtag or location, click the result, and then click “Recent”.

This shows you posts in reverse chronological order.  By commenting and engaging with these posts, the person who posted it has a higher likelihood of seeing your comment and answering it in real time because they are most likely still on the app.

Do you have any other suggestions? How do you target customers within your region?

how to target potential customers for restaurants | how to find people on instagram by location | search by region | instagram marketing for restaurants | restaurant marketing | social media restaurant marketing | instagram business | instagram for your business | instagram for entrepreneurs | food industry | build your instagram | grow a following | brand marketing | build a following | instagram followers | target customers | increase traffic to restaurant

 

+ Instagram 101 for restaurants | restaurant marketing | social media marketing | instagram business | instagram for your business | instagram for entrepreneurs | food industry | build your instagram | brand marketing | build a following | followers | target customers | increase traffic to restaurant

Instagram 101 for Restaurants

Here’s the thing about marketing your restaurant on Instagram:  it’s not rocket science but it’s NOT easy…far from it.  These are the three principles any restaurant needs to be successful on Instagram:

Story

Humans naturally want to connect with others.  If you can effectively convey your restaurant’s story over social media, you’ll inherently build more connections.  Maybe you feel like you don’t have a story to tell.  Well, I have news for you:  everyone has a story and it’s probably more interesting than you think.

Why did you start this restaurant? Did you grow up baking in your grandmother’s kitchen?  Was it your passion for traditional Cuban cooking?  Did you and your best friend always dream of owning your own bar?

It doesn’t matter what your story is.  You just need to have one.

Consistency

Now that you have a story, your job is to tell that story over and over and over again.  If it sounds like you’re repeating yourself every few posts, that’s okay!  Your potential customers aren’t going to see every one of your posts (thank you Instagram algorithm!) and your followers need to be told that story multiple times before they’ll remember it.

Here’s the good news though, the days of having to post every day on Instagram are over. That said, you need to be consistent. Maybe you post 3 times per week, maybe you post 5 times per week.  It doesn’t truly matter as long as you’re consistent.  Don’t post 7 days one week, 2 days the next week, then take a week off, then 7 days again.

The sweet spot is 3 – 6 days per week.

Genuine Engagement

Instagram is a form of social media.  Key word: social.  It’s a platform that enables you to talk directly with potential customers and for them to talk directly to you.  So how do you engage in a way that isn’t spammy?

  1. Answer your DM’s
  2. Answer your comments
  3. Comment on posts of potential customers
  4. Comment on posts using hashtags in your niche (local hashtags are best!)

Pro Tip – make sure that the majority of your comments are 4 words or more and ask a question.  This gives people the opportunity to respond! And that equals more engagement.

Instagram 101 for restaurants | restaurant marketing | social media marketing | instagram business | instagram for your business | instagram for entrepreneurs | food industry | build your instagram | brand marketing | build a following | followers | target customers | increase traffic to restaurant

+ nutella muffins recipe | healthy sweets | healthy dessert | healthy chocolate muffins | double chocolate muffins recipe | double chocolate cake | dairy free chocolate chips |  gluten free muffins | healthy muffins | soy free | breakfast muffins | dessert muffins | gluten free muffins

Double Chocolate Nutella Muffins (Gluten Free)

nutella muffins recipe | healthy sweets | healthy dessert | healthy chocolate muffins | double chocolate muffins recipe | double chocolate cake | dairy free chocolate chips |  gluten free muffins | healthy muffins | soy free | breakfast muffins | dessert muffins | gluten free muffins

Anyone else have a lot of memories eating Nutella as a child?  I do!  And I’m so excited about this “healthier” gluten free recipe for Nutella muffins. With healthier swaps, such as almond milk, coconut oil, gluten free flour, and maple syrup instead of sugar, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

I had such a great time making this recipe last weekend. My best friend and I made it up while rummaging in our cabinets to see what ingredients we had that would cure a sweet tooth.

There’s something so awesome about making up a recipe from scratch and having it turn out perfectly delicious.  These muffins are chocolatey, tender on the inside, naturally sweetened, fluffy, and totally drool-worthy.

nutella muffins recipe | healthy sweets | healthy dessert | healthy chocolate muffins | double chocolate muffins recipe | double chocolate cake | dairy free chocolate chips |  gluten free muffins | healthy muffins | soy free | breakfast muffins | dessert muffins | gluten free muffins

 

Prep Time: 25 minutes | Bake Time: 20 Minutes | Total Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 ½  cups of gluten free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour*)
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 jar nutella
  • ½ cup vegan chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Bring 6 cups of water to boil
  3. Rinse sweet potato under cold water and add sweet potato to the boiling water (skin on)
  4. Boil until potato is tender when pierced with a fork (about 15 to 20 minutes)
  5. Remove potato, cut in half (long wise) and scoop out insides (should be soft)
  6. While sweet potato is boiling, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl:  flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon
  7. In a separate bowl, combine applesauce, egg, vanilla, almond milk, sweet potato, and maple syrup.  Blend in a food processor until smooth
  8. Pour wet mixture into mixing bowl with dry ingredients and combine with a spatula until smooth
  9. Add chocolate chips, combine
  10. Line muffin tin with coconut oil
  11. Pour muffin mixture into muffin tin, filling each muffin cup about 2/3 of the way
  12. Scoop about 1 tbsp of nutella on top of each muffin
  13. With a toothpick, gently swirl the nutella into each muffin
  14. Bake for 20 minutes

 

nutella muffins recipe | healthy sweets | healthy dessert | healthy chocolate muffins | double chocolate muffins recipe | double chocolate cake | dairy free chocolate chips |  gluten free muffins | healthy muffins | soy free | breakfast muffins | dessert muffins | gluten free muffins

+ how to overcome post traumatic stress | post traumatic growth | self worth | confidence | self love | self care | respond to challenge | positivity | mindfulness | mindful | spirituality | inner peace | anxiety | how to manage anxiety | how to manage stress

Post Traumatic Stress vs. Growth Mindset

how to overcome post traumatic stress | post traumatic growth | self worth | confidence | self love | self care | respond to challenge | positivity | mindfulness | mindful | spirituality | inner peace | anxiety | how to manage anxiety | how to manage stress

I’ve heard it said that there are 2 types of people: those who experience post traumatic stress and those who post traumatic growth.  I’m working on being the latter.

When scientists develop an experiment, they see failure as just another datapoint. They expect hypotheses to fail…that’s what makes it an experiment.

We often think, this thing happened to me and so now this is WHO I AM.  But it is not a reflection of our self-worth and it is not who we are as a person. I’m working on seeing my failures as just another datapoint in life.

How do you respond to challenges?  Do you let it knock you down or do you welcome it?
+ vegan salad | healthy salad recipe | curry cauliflower | curried cauliflower | avocado | chickpeas | raisins | almonds | grape tomatoes | food photography | eating healthy | vegan | health recipe | meal prep | salads for the week | creative salad recipe

Curry Cauliflower Salad

vegan salad | healthy salad recipe | curry cauliflower | curried cauliflower | avocado | chickpeas | raisins | almonds | grape tomatoes | food photography | eating healthy | vegan | health recipe | meal prep | salads for the week | creative salad recipe

I’ve been working on being more consistent about meal prepping.  And I have to say that the last couple weeks, I’ve been ROCKING IT. This week, I made curried cauliflower which should last me about 5 salads this week.

In this bowl:

  • Spinach dressed with olive oil and lemon juice
  • chickpeas tossed in cumin
  • baked curry cauliflower
  • grape tomatoes
  • raisins
  • almonds
  • 1/2 avocado
+

Breakfast bowl with sweet potatoes, rice, and avocado

breakfastbowl

Yesterday was a perfect day in Sarah-Land.  I visited the holy mecca that is Whole Foods, meal-prepped sweet potatoes, mushroom wild rice, banana walnut muffins, and made some BANGIN’ chicken soup in my crockpot (recipe to come).

Those 3 hours that I spent meal-prepping means extravagant breakfasts for the rest of the week.

In this bowl:

  • Kale dressed with olive oil and lemon juice
  • Mushroom wild rice
  • Baked sweet potatoes
  • 3 grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 avocado
  • Sunny side up egg with pepper
+

Salad for Breakfast

Paleobreakfast

I’ve been drinking a lot of home-made chai lattes lately because I’ve been trying to limit my coffee intake.  Coffee can increase my anxiety because of the caffeine.  I think I feel better when I start my day with tea.  I am able to hyper-focus on what needs to get done, rather than being stuck in my thoughts.

I’m a big fan of what I call “salad for breakfast.” This breakfast bowl is gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian.

Salad:
Spinach dressed with olive oil and lemon juice
Chickpeas tossed in cumin
Baked sweet potatoes (with salt and pepper)
Sunny side up egg with pepper

Latte:
Chai teabag
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup @thenewbarn almond milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon

+

5 quick tips to reduce anxiety

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

People tell me I smile a lot…which is funny because on the inside I often feel like a bomb has gone off and i can barely keep up with my anxious brain.

I guess i smile because it’s easier to show that emotion than to express what’s really going on.  But sometimes smiling actually gets me through the anxiety because i remember not to take myself too seriously.

If you’re feeling anxious, try these tips: 

1. take a vitamin d supplements (aka you could be cranky because it’s winter)

2. make room in your mental space for the things that bring you joy (aka don’t fill your mind with negative shit like meaningless gossip and thinking you look ugly today–you don’t.)

3. make room in your physical space for the things that bring you joy (aka clean your  room and do the dishes)

4. put pen to paper (aka spend 5 minutes to write down your F E E L I N G S in a journal)

5. remember to smile (aka don’t take yourself too seriously–we’re all just little specs in this beautiful universe)

+ sweet potato casserole | thanksgiving | paleo | vegan | dairy free | gluten free | healthy thanksgiving side | sweet potato side | sweet potato and walnuts | sweet potato pie

Thanksgiving Sweet Potato Casserole

I don’t need an excuse to eat more sweet potatoes… but if I did, Thanksgiving would be a good one.  Sweet potato casserole is an American Thanksgiving tradition.  And the good news is that this is the easiest Thanksgiving dish to prepare of all time.  Beyond just making some room in the oven, there’s not much else to it.

sweet potato casserole | thanksgiving | paleo | vegan | dairy free | gluten free | healthy thanksgiving side | sweet potato side | sweet potato and walnuts | sweet potato pie

I grew up eating sweet potato casserole with so much sugar in it, it was basically sweet potato pie.  Sweet potatoes are already sweet (hence the name, people), so you don’t have to sweeten it too much.  I sweetened this casserole with just one tablespoon of maple syrup.  (this is optional for you Whole-30’ers).
Friendly Diets:  gluten free, dairy free, paleo, vegan

Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Bake Time 1 hour 30 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

**fits in 18 liter pan

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium to large sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup crushed walnuts (you can just crush them in your hand)
  • ¼ cup cup almond or coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. Place whole sweet potatoes on baking sheet
  4. Roast the sweet potatoes for an hour or until soft
  5. Once the sweet potatoes are soft, let cool for about 10 minutes
  6. Cut the sweet potatoes in half and use a spoon to scoop the sweet potato’s insides into a bowl, and discarding the skin.  The skin should be pretty easy to peel off.
  7. Mash the potatoes in the bowl until soft
  8. Add the almond/coconut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla to the sweet potatoes,  mix together
  9. Add cinnamon, cacao powder, salt, and nutmeg. Mix.
  10. Crush walnuts in hand and add them to the sweet potato mixtures
  11. Fold in the walnuts
  12. Transfer to casserole dish and spread until even
  13. Bake for 30 minutes