With the rise of social media influencers in recent years, Instagram has seen a rapid surge in popularity making it the perfect marketing tool for businesses. However, paying for sponsored content isn’t the only way companies can promote their products or services on the platform.

Ordinary people are now documenting their life online and searching for striking décor such as playful neon signs, interesting floor tiling and artwork, they can display on the ‘gram. To take advantage of this, more and more establishments–whether it’s restaurants, shops or bars–are using aesthetically pleasing design features to attract customers.

Emily Cocker, senior digital strategist at Instagram marketing agency Bigfoot Digital, said, “Instagram is powerful, so are many forms of social media. It’s the modern-day replacement to word-of-mouth as it carries photo evidence. People use Instagram as bragging rights, but you can use that to your advantage.

“Having a creative and quirky space is going to inspire people to take photos. The more pictures posted about your establishment, the more business and publicity you will receive without paying a penny for marketing.”

Incorporate Instagram trends in the décor

A popular trend which many businesses are taking advantage of is the ‘shoefie’. This is when people take a picture of their feet on stylish flooring. The Instagram hashtag #ihavethisthingwithfloors contains over 800,000 photos. Many establishments have incorporated floor tiling in their interiors for this purpose.

Floor tiling can be used as a ‘hook’ to help companies stand out. It encourages customers to take photographs, and share them on Instagram. Tiling can spell out a welcoming phrase, have unusual patterns or radiate bold colors.

Graeme Hoole, head of product development at NeonPlus said: “Instagrammable décor helps companies showcase a brand image, whether that’s a modern, cool bar or a sophisticated, feminine café. This attracts a particular target market and increases brand awareness.”

Make the space photogenic

A list of restaurants and bars were recently cited as ‘the most Instagrammable places in the UK’ in Glamour. Among the establishments mentioned, many used interiors such as velvet furniture, glitter string curtains and flowers to form picturesque backdrops.

“I think design is personal to a brand," said Cocker. "It all depends on the audience you’re looking to attract. The vast majority of people who use Instagram are millennials who are led by what they see online. The key is to make the experience at your establishment one to remember.”

Decorative forms of lighting, like neon signs and fairy lights, are heavily featured in Instagram posts. Several cafes and bars mentioned in Glamour’s list exhibited neon signs with playful phrases, such as ‘well-behaved women don’t make history’ and ‘I licked it so it’s mine’. Neon can also showcase branding and display images and symbols.

“Neon adds a burst of color into an otherwise dull space," Cocker added. "The signs are almost unmissable and great for capturing the attention of customers. Also, they aren’t as harsh on the eyes or camera lens as lights, which makes for an ‘Insta-worthy’ photo (without the glare).”

Inspire customers with a business Instagram profile

It's common for Instagrammers to look up eateries and bars on the platform to help them determine whether they want to visit it. Research by Zagat last year discovered that 75% of restaurant users say they’ve actually picked a place to eat based on shared food photos.

Companies with Instagram accounts can share beautiful content of their products or services to demonstrate the type of images customers can recreate when visiting the establishment.

“Use high-quality images on your social media accounts to clearly show the design and aesthetics of your surroundings,” said Cocker. “Get your photography spot on to show people what they’re missing.”

The platform previously discovered that more than 200 million Instagrammers visit at least one business profile daily, and a recent study found that 75% of Instagram users engage with a company after seeing the brand post.

“As more and more enterprises emerge with stunning interiors, the ones that don’t are likely to fall short,” Hoole said. “Just having good products or services won’t always be enough to compete with firms that offer this as well as the ‘Instagrammable’ experience.”

How photogenic a restaurant, café or bar is can determine whether it stands out against the competition. If an Instagram post doesn’t translate the visual beauty of the interiors, it’s less likely to attract attention online and drive customers through the door.

For more information, visit www.neonplus.co.uk.