A cantilever umbrella is not just a shade solution to your restaurant’s outdoor seating. It is also the perfect muse for Instagram pictures that showcase people enjoying themselves in your restaurant.
What is a cantilever umbrella?
Also known as an offset umbrella, a cantilever umbrella doesn’t feature a traditional center pole. Its canopy is suspended in the air and is supported by a freestanding pole on the side. The cantilever umbrella is a versatile shade solution and comes in a myriad of sizes, shapes, fabrics and frame materials. Some umbrella poles have tilting options that allow the canopy to move left and right, backward and forward, or even rotate 360-degrees!
Cantilever umbrellas are portable, easy to set up and create an unobstructed view beneath the canopy for free movement. You can mount a cantilever umbrella in narrow walkways, by the poolside, beachfront and in rooftop restaurants. The best part? They double up as excellent selfie spots for stunning pictures that can be used on Instagram to promote your business to your guests.
But why do you need an attention-grabbing Instagram page? lit
A lot of restaurateurs think social media promotion is only limited to pictures of food and drinks. However, showcasing the ambience of your restaurant gives your followers and potential diners a preview of what to expect when they visit your business.
Still, how does it help my business?
Here’s a fun fact – there are over 371 million posts with #food and about 41 million posts tagged #drink on Instagram, according to SproutSocial. It’s safe to say that food and beverage pictures are by far the most popular content for Instagram. That being said, it’s quite likely that your customers are posting pictures of your restaurant without tagging you or your business handle. Try searching your business in the background. Look for identifiers like your cantilever umbrella or your wait staff.
…and when you do find a picture of smiling guests having fun at your restaurant, check out how many likes the photo got. You might even find other users commenting where it was taken. Now imagine if your business handle was tagged in the same photo. How many more followers you could have garnered online? You might have even generated new business simply because a guest had fun dining out at your restaurant the other day.
This is why social media strategy is a MUST for restaurants.
Social media today is responsible for many new trends and FOMO-inducing content. The Ice Bucket Challenge, #Movember, #NoFilter, #DryJuly are just some of the many, many trends that have gone viral on Instagram and other social media handles. In fact, SproutSocial reports that as many as 500 million people use stories on Instagram with trending hashtags to make their content visible to other users.
Having said that, below are some more mind-blowing statistics about Instagram:
a). By the end of 2020, Instagram had a whopping 1 billion users.
b). As many as 88% of people are influenced by online comments and reviews.
c). Despite having the presence of older users, Instagram is predominantly the territory of Millennials and Gen Z – two of the biggest consumers in today’s economy.
d). One-third of the most viewed stories on the platform come from brands; making stories, short-form videos and carousels are central to the content strategy for any business.
So, if you’ve been wondering if it’s okay to bypass the social media route because it’s too much work, think again. Not only does your business need social media, but it also cannot afford to lose out to the competition. 75% of people purchase a product because they saw it on social media. Your business should be among the 75% and not the remaining 25%.
How to make your restaurant an Instagram powerhouse with your cantilever umbrella?
A sure-fire way to highlight your restaurant on Instagram is to publish scrumptious pictures that will make your followers hungry. However, as much as you have to make the food pop, people also look for ambiance when they visit restaurants. Interestingly, millennials dine out on an average of 240 times a year – making them a force to be reckoned with. They consistently crave experiences and your restaurant needs to communicate a story that they can be a part of – and this is where your interior design and outdoor dining setup comes into the picture.
A cantilever umbrella adds finishing touches to your perfect al fresco dining, giving your customers a blissful experience while enticing those on social media to book an appointment. Umbrellas are great subjects, and when you pair them with happy families, loving couples, friends reuniting after years, and birthday parties for the little ones, you get a spectacular brand ambassador.
The first tip to keep in mind when working with a cantilever umbrella is exposure.
Typically, the exposure setting on smartphones is automatic. This makes photographing an offset umbrella a big challenge since the light levels are usually variable. By their very function, umbrellas provide shade for which you’ve got to have light. Do you see the conundrum? Your frame will have dark and bright spots when you photograph your umbrella.
To counter this problem, switch to the pro mode or adjust the exposure manually. The key here is to decide what part of the frame you want to define. To have a nice shot of the umbrella, you might need to plan your photoshoot in a slightly brighter sky. It’s easier to correct light pictures than dark ones.
Next, you might want to mind the time of the day.
Photographers refer to sunset and sunrise as the Golden Hour. During these times, the sun is lower in the sky and the particles in the air diffuse the light to create an evenly distributed warm, soft light. This creates a level of exposure since both the surroundings and your cantilever umbrella have the same amount of light. This leads to a better photo than any other time of the day.
Give it a try. Photograph your restaurant and the umbrella during the Golden Hours and put it on Instagram for your followers to see. You will find an instant hike in the number of likes.
While we’re on the topic, don’t forget the composition and framing for Instagram.
Owing to their unique shape, umbrellas pose a framing challenge in front of photographers and content creators. You need a portrait or a square picture to upload on Instagram and the shape, width, and height of a cantilever umbrella are just not conducive for such framing. Therefore, you will have to remove aspects that can be avoided from the frame.
While compositing a frame with the right proportions, turn on the grid on your camera. This way, you can access the Rule of Thirds. This is an important framing principle that lets you click aesthetic pictures that convey a message and resonate with perception. Frame your umbrella in a way so one of the lines from the grid follows the canopy or the mast.
Next, think about why you want to click on this picture. Your aim is to show your page’s followers how great it would be to sit under your umbrella, share a few drinks with their favorite people and enjoy the gentle breeze in the balmy Australian weather. A great shot of your umbrella proudly meeting the horizon under a blue sky will definitely be an image to behold.
Not just the frame, but the angle matters as well.
As humans, we are accustomed to the eye-level perspective through which we naturally observe things. Ironically, we are drawn towards pictures that stand out. While instinct dictates that we snap a picture from the eye or the chest height, there’s a unique pull about a shot taken from a low or high angle.
If you browse through Instagram, you will find this waterfall of the chest or eye-level images. An angled image will help your pictures stand apart from this cacophony of visual noise. Low angles add scope, size, and presence while high angles add a perception of wholesomeness and more character to your pictures.
Lastly, include a zingy caption to wrap it all up.
No cinematography is complete without a script and the same goes for your Instagram page. You may have captured a bewitching picture of your cantilever umbrella, but it’s not complete without a snappy one-liner and a trending hashtag to make your followers click Book Now.
Keep the content short and peppy. Come up with witty one-liners, puns, and wordplays, movie references, or gripping emotional hooks. The visual story of your cantilever needs a written conclusion, so don’t pass up on this opportunity to spice up your Instagram identity.