By the Franchise Centre at Griffith University
Does your franchise provide an attractive, engaging or exciting environment for customers to photograph? This is a question that many franchises may have never considered but is one that is rising in importance given the growing marketing power of Instagram.
The visual social media platform of Instagram has emerged as a key influencer of food and beverage trends in recent years, with customers drawn to the chance to photograph eye-catching items such as indulgent doughnuts, milkshakes, meals and other unique creations.
Now the marketing appeal of Instagram is being taken a step further with cafes, restaurants and other retailers pro-actively designing their physical retail spaces in the hope of attracting more photos and valuable Instagram posts from customers.
Retailers have always wanted their spaces to look attractive to customers, but the difference with this new emerging trend is the specific focus on how a retail space will look in a photograph taken by customers and then posted on Instagram.
This would never have previously been a consideration for most retailers but is something that is becoming more prevalent in retail design, particularly in the trend-setting USA, and is sure to grow in importance here in Australia.
The end game is tapping into the power of Instagram influencers, particularly millennials, whose Instagram posts can be promoted onto thousands of followers. You want your customers to post on Instagram so others will see it and say ‘I want to go there too’.
Retailers cannot control this process but if they provide an ‘Instagrammable’ environment it can take on a life of its own. If there is a ‘wow’ factor for photographs, your customers can become your best marketers.
It cannot be forced and has to be authentic if you are seeking to harness the potential of Instagram as a marketing channel. It is in the hands of your customers but if you provide the right photo-friendly setting that will attract their attention, the rewards can be big.
The power and reach of Instagram reflects the ever-growing desire for ‘experiences’ from millennial customers. Whereas older generations received their inspiration from mass-market magazines or TV commercials, millennials get their inspiration from social media.
The ‘experience’ is at the heart of this inspiration and drives consumer spending behaviour across all industries. As an example, new hotel industry research in the USA shows millennials are more likely to book a hotel room that looks good on Instagram, rather than a cheap one.
So how do you go about making your franchise a social media magnet that is irresistible for Instagrammers?
There is no set formula for this, as personal tastes, interests and popular trends play a part, but there are some simple steps that a franchise can take to make their physical retail space more photo-friendly to customers:
- Start by thinking about the framing of photographs for Instagram throughout your retail premises, both inside and out. Are there any unique features that could catch the eye of Instagrammers? If so, make sure they are not obstructed/cluttered and easy to photograph.
- Lighting is a key factor. The more natural light there is, the better the photographs so let the sunshine in. Feature lighting can also help to create great photographs.
- Make the exterior of your premises attractive to photographers. Stand out from the crowd with a neon sign, a mural, a quote of the day, a quirky statue or a cool car or motorbike parked outside.
- Make the interior exciting with unique wallpaper, brickwork, floor tiles and artworks and create a point of difference with a free pinball machine or video game for waiting customers.
- Even small details such as staff uniforms, plates, cutlery, glasses and menu boards if they are different from the normal can grab the attention of photographers.
- The name of your business could be an attraction in itself in drawing photographers to your door.
- Have a theme running throughout your store, whether it be colourful, kitsch, funny or retro or inspired by a particular movie, book, character, country or city.
- Create a fun and social environment. If people are having a great time they will take photographs to share on Instagram and there is no better referral marketing than that.
What is your angle for Instagram in your franchise?
Are you actively working on it as part of a wider social media strategy, or it is something you have not even considered?
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