January 16, 2020

Instagram Customer Research

We can learn a lot from our customers. That is why we like to ask our customers valuable feedback questions like how they found us, where they were coming from, and where they are going after their meal.

We like to build relationships with our customers so that the next time they think about dining out…

Not only do they think about our delicious food and attentive service, but they also think about us because they know us and like us.

But sometimes we can’t have conversations with every single customer due to our schedule-packed, mobile lifestyle.

Luckily, there is an alternate way to engage with and find out more about our customers at our leisure and our pace.

Enter location data.

Most community platforms like Yelp and Facebook have location data involved. However, they either don’t allow unrestricted access to the data or they don’t let you freely engage with the content attached to that location data.

The one platform I can think of that lets you do both is…

Instagram.

We are going to use Instagram as our main source of gathering customer data.

Our first order of business is to find the page that contains our restaurant’s location data.

First, we have to check if we have a Local Business Page on Facebook.

Instagram now uses Facebook Places data for their Instagram location data.

Go to Facebook and type your restaurant name in the search bar.

Look for your business under the “Places” section.

If your place is there, like Pie Bar (my favorite pie place in Seattle), you are good to go.

Now, open your browser and go to Google. Search using this formula:

[Your Facebook Place Name] + [Your Restaurant’s City] + “Instagram”

So, if you are Pie Bar in Seattle, you would search “Pie Bar Seattle Instagram” without the quotation marks.

When you make that search, you are looking for a URL in this format:

If you don’t see this URL, there could be other sites that will help you find your location page.

I will walk you through search results you might see that will help you find your Instagram location page.

3rd party Instagram page

These pages are websites that use Instagram data and display the data in their own format.

Here are some other 3rd party sites that I’ve noticed:

  • imgrum.com
  • tagram.com
  • pictaram.com
  • iconosquare.com
  • websta.me

If you find one of these 3rd party sites but you cannot find your Instagram location page, we can still navigate to the Instagram location page.

Go into the 3rd party site. Some may need you to log in in order to use their site. Go ahead and log in.

Once you can see the location data in the site, find the username of someone that posted to that location like in any of the red boxes I’ve highlighted below.

We are going to go into that person’s Instagram profile and look for that same picture. In this example, I’ll use @elykahwaty. To go to their profile, use the URL structure:

https://instagram.com/(username).

In this case, it would be https://instagram.com/elykahwaty.

Then scroll down until you find the exact same picture as you saw on the 3rd party location page.

Aha. It was on the 3rd row from the top for me, as highlighted in red.

Then, go into the post and click on the Instagram location link.

After you think you have found your location page, verify it by checking a couple of things.

For those of you that found your location page through the mobile app, follow these instructions to get to your location on a desktop browser.

Check the pin on the map at the top of the page. If your restaurant is at that pin, the page is most likely for your restaurant.

Also, check the pictures that people post there. If the pictures look like they are from your restaurant, you are good to go.

Now that you have access to your Instagram location page, you can look through all the people that have posted content at your restaurant.

You will also see that most of these people are real customers because they are posting pictures of their food, picture of themselves with their friends, and basically anything relevant to their experience at your restaurant.

The content on a location page is separated into two sections. The first section consists of the “Most Popular” posts and the second section consists of the “Most Recent” posts.

The placement of “Most Popular” posts are determined by an algorithm developed by Instagram. This algorithm, from what I’ve seen, either puts posts that have a large amount of total engagement or a quick amount of engagement soon after its time of post. (Something to keep in mind if you want to make it to the “Most Popular” section of your own or other location pages.)

The “Most Recent” posts are sorted in chronological order starting with the most recent.

What we want to do here is to look through the “Most Recent” posts.

Before we dive deep into each of these posts, let me break down the anatomy of an Instagram post so you can better understand the terms I will be using ahead.

On the left side is the photo/video and on the right side, from top to bottom we have:

  • Username
  • Location
  • Caption
  • Comments
  • Like/Comment Buttons
  • Comment Field

Each piece of content has data that we can analyze, break down, and make data-driven decisions with.

For example, we can get a feel for the customer’s intent of posting content by analyzing the photo or video and the caption.

In the above content where we explain the anatomy of an Instagram post, we see that the person is describing their “desserted island” pie.

If you were Pie Bar, you could use this as a data point. If many people posted a picture of “the deserted island” pie, you know that the pie is popular and you can make more pies using similar flavors.

I found another person posting about “the desserted island.”

Looks like it really is a popular pie!

Alright, we’re about to get to the fun part!

Let’s go even deeper than the one piece of content that the person posted at our location. Click on the customer’s username on the Instagram post.

This will take us to their profile where we can learn more about the customer. This is what the above person’s profile looks like.

It looks like she likes to post pictures of a lot of her meals. Got pretty lucky here on our first try. We will probably be able to find other restaurants and nearby places that she has been to.

If you like to know where else your customer hangs out, we’re about to find out!

Click on the first post.

Hey! There’s location data attached to the post. Let’s click on the location.

It’s a nearby restaurant that serves ramen!

We are about to accrue a lot of data, so let’s make sure we stay organized with it.

I’ve made a Google Sheets template here for you that is prefilled with all the columns that we need.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1L4kBW3zpz6MLaMcMqgbaUf06rEetlGfyNOIiae27ANs/edit#gid=0

Let’s go to the next post. You can press the right arrow key on your keyboard to go to the next picture. Every post you see with a location, click on the location and copy the location page link the Google Sheet like so:

Be aware that some people love to tag locations and some don’t. So you might get lots of data from one users but none from another.

A good benchmark is to go through at least 3 months’ worth of content for each person.

You can see how long ago a piece of content was posted here:

Once you have gone through 3 months of content for a customer, go back to your restaurant’s location page and move on to the next most recent post, click on the person’s profile, and start getting locations from their posts again.

Once you have 1,000 locations on your Google Sheet, go ahead and sort the locations by name.

In the Google Sheet, I’ve already included a formula to highlight all the duplicate locations in yellow. 

Now, you will be able to see the most common locations and the least common locations. This will give you a good sense of where your customers frequent the most.

If you know where your customers hang out, you should target that location.

From here, you can go into each location and analyze the content.

The goal is to engage with each piece of content, whether you are conversing with the person who posted the content, or someone else who comment on that piece of content. 

Here is what happens with your Instagram community when you start engaging with local content that is found by gathering raw customer data. These numbers are from some restaurants that are already using this strategy:

So I encourage you to apply your newfound knowledge. I’ll be following up to ask you about your progress!

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Wilson Muh


Wilson Muh

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