Rising Star Chef Matt Hyland has garnered massive Instagram followings for his restaurants Emily and Emmy Squared—36.1K and 27.7K, respectively. The restaurants have had international guests visit from Australia, Dubai, and Brazil—all because they saw photos of Hyland’s pizza and burgers. The platform also engages Brooklyn regulars; his staff has fielded calls as soon as five minutes after a post goes up, saying, “I know you’re not open yet, but I want to order that special you just posted!” Hyland started as an Instagram amateur and has become a pro. Here’s his strategy for driving business with Instagram.
- Use the “drafts” functionality so you can craft posts and then push them out when the time is right. Hyland drafts one post per restaurant in the morning, posts for Emmy Squared right before lunch, and for Emily right before dinner.
- Make sure you use clear, high-quality photos. If you’re not the best photographer, repost guests’ photos. Hyland’s posts are roughly 50:50 personal:customer photos.
- Respond to people when they give you social media love by liking photos and comments. Hyland tries to comment on every. single. post. someone makes from his restaurants, along with posts in which Emily and Emmy Squared are tagged.
- Get into a routine that works for you. Hyland spends 15 to 20 minutes every morning on Instagram, and one and a half hours on Saturdays and Sundays.
- You don’t have to give away free feasts to “influencers” to make the most of their followings. Hyland relies on social influencers to help test specials, and if he has a new menu item, he’ll let them try it, post about it, and see what kind of reaction it gets.
- Find which hashtags work for you. Hyland uses #pizzalovesemily and #(pizza emoji)(heart emoji)E. He also uses general hashtags like #pizza, which has been used 24 million times.
- Hyland uses Instagram stories to broadcast live from events and give followers a behind-the-scenes peek into his kitchen. Stories allow you to be transparent as a brand and engage your followers while eliminating the need for a picture-perfect posts.
- Find a signature style for your photos. Hyland uses one spot at Emily that they call the “photo booth.” There’s a table near a window with lots of natural light, and their signature photo is shot from overhead, with the table’s black surface as a background.