Consumers are embracing Instagram as a way to engage with and share enthusiasm for big foodservice brands, and Starbucks is leading the pack among them, according to recent data from monitoring platform MomentFeed.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based MomentFeed recently released its second quarterly MomentFeed Index Restaurant Instagram Report, which tracked activity on the Instagram platform for 65 restaurant brands during the second quarter ended June 30. The report counts photos taken by consumers that are tagged to a specific restaurant location and not the brand’s company Instagram account.  


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Starbucks had the most total photos by far, with 109,054 shots taken and tagged by consumers across its coffeehouse units during the quarter. The Cheesecake Factory followed with 27,880 photos, and Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar came next with 19,197 images.

See the full MomentFeed 2Q Instagram ranking by total place-tagged photos >>

For average number of photographs per location, which balances out larger operators like Starbucks with less populated brands, 18-unit Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville came in first with 249.7 photos per restaurant, followed by Hard Rock Café with 182.4 images per unit and Dave & Buster’s with 159.8 shots per location.

Kyle Collins, director of marketing for the Orlando, Fla.-based Margaritaville Hospitality Group, credited the brand’s high engagement numbers with the attention it gives to customers’ Instagram posts. “We’re trying to be extremely responsive to the Instagram activity,” he said in an interview.

He noted that Margaritaville’s approach is less to push photographs out on the Instagram platform than to respond to what customers are doing. “We’re trying to amplify what they’re doing on the Instagram platform. We’re not trying to change their behavior,” he said. “We’re thanking them for coming in. We’re talking to them about their experience: ‘How was everything?’ We tell them we hope to see them soon. It’s straight-up, hand-to-hand client engagement.”

As of August, about 130 million monthly active Instagram users post 45 million photos per day, according to MomentFeed.

Increasing Instagram engagement

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Rob Reed, founder of MomentFeed, said restaurants can do three things to increase engagement on the Instagram platform: liking, commenting and sharing. “Those are the three easiest ways to engage with your customers and create more Instagram activity for your brand,” he said in an interview.

Liking a customer’s Instagram photo “sends a really discrete and direct message and signals to the customer is that the brand is listening,” Reed said. “The next time they are in the restaurant, they’ll be more inclined to post another photo in the chance that the brand will notice them.”



The next step, Reed explained, is to engage in conversation in Instagram. “You can do that in the comments,” he said. “Brands will do that to either address customer service issues … or thank the customer for taking time out of their meal to share the experience.”

Restaurants can also share customer photos through the brand’s other social media channels, especially Facebook, Reed added. “That’s pretty much the ultimate ‘thank you’ the brand can extend to the customer,” he said. “You can post to Facebook with attribution, of course. They’ll share that on their own feeds.”

Increasingly, brands are finding they can address customer service issues on Instagram as well as Facebook and Twitter, Reed said. “You need to listen to what your customers are saying in the comments and respond,” he added.

Joergen Aaboe, MomentFeed’s director of marketing, said the initial 65 locations in the Instagram quarterly report were selected to “represent multiple categories within the restaurant vertical.” Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Margaritaville, Polly’s Pies and Texas Roadhouse are using the MomentFeed software.

Aaboe said the company is looking to expand its brands in the survey, but restaurant companies must provided a list of locations so the photographs can be place tagged to specific outlets.

The MomentFeed ranking differs from the NRN Social 200, which monitors Facebook, Twitter and YouTube engagement.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless