Why Glasgow cafes are winning at instagram

image courtesy of @kafcoffee

image courtesy of @kafcoffee

Learning from others

When it comes to Instagram, any business with visually appealing products has a head start.  Different social media platform work for different kinds of businesses.  Instagram is perfect for cafes and restaurants, and some really know how to make the most of it. And there’s a lot to learn from them.

They’re using Instagram exactly the way it was intended - to show 'instant', fresh and new stuff, as it happens. It's why posts like #throwbackthursday, where something is shared from 3 years ago, just doesn't seem quite right on this platform.  Show me a decadent cake you just made this morning, I’m on board with that.  

And I love finding those local business gems that you can share with friends and show off how knowledgeable you are about your city.  I’ll admit that I do kind of go out of my way to seek them out. Instagram is a great source. It’s far easier for me to find the new and unusual, and therefore, far easier for them to find me!  Perfect for small business marketing.

As a big fan of cake, coffee and chatting, I’m always on the lookout for a cracking wee cafe to go hang out in.  And I’ve made good discoveries through Instagram, because these guys really know how to reach their market.

Some great examples on Instagram

Here’s a few examples of my favourites and why they’re on my feed and keeping me engaged.

@kafcoffee (main image)

Here’s a tiny, little coffee shop in Partick that really knows how to entice with a photo, or sometimes a video.  Who could resist? They’ve got behind the scenes shots of their lovely baking and daily, mouth-watering, enticing cakes on their feed and in stories.

Piece finnieston on instagram


Yes, they do show some gorgeous pics of their ‘“pieces”  but are also injecting a lot of Glasgow humour in there. And we do love that, don’t we?  You’d follow them just for the laughs. There’s only so much you can say about a sandwich but those sandwich boards are being used to full advantage for the passing trade and are Instagrammable gold!  


@ singlendcafe_garnethill

Their food looks incredible and, if something looks that good, don’t say it - show it!  And then, when your followers start engaging with comments like “I’ve been and the baked eggs are amazing’, you’re immediately building trust with a new audience who are suddenly thinking ‘I want those baked eggs too!’.  This actually happened to me, and, btw the baked eggs were amazing!


I haven’t visited this one yet - but it’s on my list!   It’s Southside, so it takes a wee bit of effort.

Ok, the food looks amazing and I like the fact that they regularly post a pic of the bright yellow shop front.  If you’ve been seeing it on Instagram and then walk by, it’s immediately going to attract your attention.  The chat with the customers is good too and the Instagram algorithm penalises users that don’t engage with comments so it’s important to do this.  Plus, they’re getting lots of endorsement and they are building that trust.


The only thing these guys sell is Doughnuts! - ok, some coffee and slushies and that - but mainly doughnuts.  But these aren’t just any old doughnuts, these are probably the best doughnuts in the world (I stand by that!).

And, with more than 18k followers, it just goes to show that you can keep sharing photos of delicious doughnuts and people will not get bored.  And plus, if you video the making of said doughnuts, emphasising the freshness and the artisan quality of your product, you get even more likes and engagement.  They recently opened their second shop, as did Singl-End, and had an excited following building up before the opening. They offered free doughnuts - damn, I missed that!

Tell me that you are not thinking about how soon you can get yourself down to one of these for a tasty bite. Right?  

And, ok, so they have the advantage of having some seriously photogenic products to sell.  But a lot of businesses do, and, if it looks good, Instagram’s the place. If you decide to make use of Instagram to promote your business then use the business account  option. This will provides followers with email, call and directions buttons. And analytics  are only available with business accounts.

Top tips to build a following

Here's a couple of  tips that can help to build a following:-

  1. Follow other businesses like yours.  These guys all follow and ‘like’ each others posts.  The kind of people that follow ‘Kaf’ will most likely want to hear about other great cafes in Glasgow and if ‘Piece’ likes and comments on their photos then it brings them to the attention of potential customers.

  2. Comment to get noticed.  Find your potential customers and add ‘likes’ or comments’ (in a non-salesy way) to their posts.  If you have a yoga class then search for people posting about yoga in your area. Hashtags e.g. #glasgowyoga will help you track them down.  Instagram will start to suggest people to follow when it sees your searches and preferences.

  3. Check your notifications to see if customers have tagged you on photos of your shop, products etc.  It's good practice to acknowledge this and thank them.

  4. Don't forget to add location.

  5. Mix it up a bit.  Add video, multiple photos, photo collages  and add text. Show a bit of personality (see ‘Piece’ above), it doesn’t all have to be product pics.  ‘Behind the scenes’ shots work well, photos of staff, funny memes and relevant quotes. And ask questions to encourage engagement since Instagram rewards engagement with more views.  The only limit is the imagination (and the law, I daresay).

  6. Use the 'stories' option for ‘behind the scenes’ and to inject a bit of fun into posts.  The other benefit of stories is that they automatically roll from one to the next so if your post isn’t showing up regularly on your followers’ feeds (it’s controlled by an algorithm rather than chronologically) there’s still a chance they’ll see your story.

  7. Use lots of hashtags.  Hashtags work well on Instagram.  You can take a look at competitors posts to get an idea of which hashtags work best.  If you’re selling trendy t-shirts #streetstyle #slogantee #instablogger are the sort of hashtags you might use.  If you’re using a lot of the same hashtags regularly then save them on your ‘Notes’ app so you just have to copy/paste them over then make a few edits where necessary. Your post will look better if the hashtags are hidden in the feed, so when you’ve finished adding your text add dots below, then your hashtags.  Like this -


Note: You’ll notice there’s not a ‘return’ option on the keyboard until you click 123 on the bottom left.

Useful apps for Instagram

There are some really useful tools and apps that you can use to improve images, make them more fun, add text, add music and so on.  Take a look at Canva, Boomerang, PicFlow and Pic Collage. For re-posting someone else’s image (with their permission) have a look at the Repost app.

If you like using Instagram stories then have a look at the video below to see one of the ways that you can make this more interesting.


Let me know in the comments if you have other favourite tricks and tips for Instagram.

I'm a marketing consultant providing creative marketing services for small and medium sized businesses  in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and the surrounding area, on a project or freelance basis.