Instagram hashtag #food has 418 million posts submitted by everyone from amateur cooks to celebrity Michel starred chefs. Social media has changed not only the way we enjoy our food but also allowed new celebrity chefs to emerge. So how can professional chefs share their talents with the world through Instagram? We have created a few tips to help chefs create a strong personal brand through social media channels.

Know Thyself. Everything starts with Self Awareness

What makes you YOU? What drives you? What are your talents, strengths, values and passions? How does your background and your personal story set you apart? What is your philosophy? When you know yourself really well, you will be able to create an authentic personal brand and stand out among many others both on social and offline.

For example, you may specialise be an expert in a particular country cuisine or be all about sustainability and environmental sustainability. Find what makes you unique and share that online. It is a good idea to start your brainstorming session with a mind map to have your thoughts organised and easily accessible.

Have a strong voice in the ocean of accents

Once you have done your mind map and got a better idea where you stand and what your goals are, you can think of the personal brand you want to create. Who are you, what is the message you want to deliver, what are your passions – all of that should dictate the language you use and the type of content you share.

Ideally, you should have a clear branding strategy and and know exactly the type of content you want to share to make sure everything that is posted on your social channels is on-brand.

Use your personal account to cross promote your business

A few chefs make a mistake of not having a personal account and relying only on the restaurant/company account. If you work for a celebrity chef, a big brand or a famous hotel chain, it may seem that it is not essential to have your own account but you have to remember that you may want to change your job one day and having a strong brand (and a loyal following) will help you to land the next job or start a new business much easier. You should also use your personal account to support your business by sharing relevant stories with your followers and showing a more personal side of you. Use your voice to promote what you are passionate about while building a strong relation with your existing and potential customers. It makes sense to include the hashtags used by your restaurant/company on your posts and generally align your own digital strategy with that of the establishment you are involved with in order to boost business.

Use the access to customers and their feedback

Social media is a great platform not only to share the dishes you create but also to get to know your existing and potential customers. Ask engaging questions and be open for the feedback. Understanding your audience will help you greatly when it comes to creating a new menu or coming up with a new promotion.

People are more likely to leave a comment under a simple question like “Which Italian dish is your favourite: pasta or pizza” then “Look this is the pasta/pizza/tiramisu i have made today”. The more comments you receive, the better engagement you get and the more your post is shown on people’s feeds thanks to Instagram algorithms. Be creative and add a bit of humour to your questions and you will definitely stand out among all of the other accounts with no personality and the same old message “come and buy” that does not really work anymore.

Have a good content plan

One of the most common complaints I hear over and over from my clients is that they simply do not know what to post and end up going for weeks without any updates on social media.

This is why it is essential to create a calendar for a week, 2 weeks or even a month and plan your content ahead, do keep in mind all the holidays, special promotions and other important events when you create it and stay flexible in case of some important changes like a VIP client or a sudden media visit. Use scheduling apps like Planoly to plan ahead, This will save you loads of time and nerves. Set one day a week to plan the content for the week and use the other days to engage with your audience.

Share engaging and diverse content

While most restaurants and chefs just share the final result of their creations by posting images of beautiful plates, your audience would appreciate more diverse and engaging content. Here are some ideas for you to explore.

  • Photos/videos of final dishes
  • Creation in progress (show us how and where the magic happen)
  • Meet the team (talk about your background, hobbies, aspirations and values when it comes to food)
  • Ingredients(focus on quality, original and type of use)
  • Video cooking tutorials (share easy recipes to repeat at home)|
  • Interior and details of the restaurant
  • Create a slideshow of step by step plating (use stop motion videos for the wow effect)
  • You may want to use your Instagram account to reach the mainstream audience while LinkedIn to build professional connections

As I have mentioned before, engage your audience by asking questions and allow your personality to shine through the posts.

Up your hashtag game

If you use the right hashtags you can improve your engagement by unto 30% so you should really dedicate some time to research the most relevant hashtags to you and your business. You can use up to 30 of them so plan well. Pro tip: have a few different groups of them saved so they will be easy to copy-paste later on based on the subject. Make sure that the first hashtag is always your own (your name) or your business, followed by the rest. Think less generic hashtags like #food or #dubai as your post will disappear in an instant among the million of other posts and focus on more specific hashtags like #ItalianRestaurantDubai to reach smaller but better targeted audience.

Use humour, reflect your personal style, mix in a bit of your native language(definitely so if you are lucky enough to be Italian??

Use creative hashtags. @DavidChang uses the hashtag #UglyDelicious (also a Netflix series) to share the most satisfying food he discovers.

Be consistent

Being consistent is key to growing your social media organically so pick an achievable goal and stick to it. If you commit to one post a day and a few stories, you will definitely see some results just in a couple of months.

You also need to be consistent to the style of photography and tone of voice and make sure that EVERYTHING that goes online is on-brand and reflects who you are and what you do in the most professional way.

Engage with other users.

Get a more proactive approach by engaging with your audience and industry experts and keep up with the food trends by following other chefs and key hashtags. Do not wait for someone to come to your profile, be the first one to connect and leave a relevant comment.

Creating a personal brand on social media takes time, dedication and proper planning and I hope these tips will help you to do so more efficiently.

Keep creating,

Slava Noor