Erica Escalante’s Instagram Tips For Coffee Shops Are Gold

by | Oct 1, 2020 | 🤝 Coffee Shop Marketing

Erica Escalante is a social media wizard for her Portland coffee shop and bakery. Here are the practical tips she says works best for her.
Coffee business customer research

Running your coffee shops’s social media probably feels a lot like guessword. That’s how it was for me back when I managed a shop. It all seemed like some algorithmic hocus pocus.

Our Instagram followers grew, and it seemed like it was working, but we were shooting in the dark, unsure if there was a better way.

There definitely is a better way for shop owners and employees to use Instagram, and Erica Escalante has found it. Erica owns a coffee shop and bakery in Portland, OR named Café Reina, formerly The Arrow. She’s an all-around badass and generous with her time and knowledge.

So generous, that she created a stunning 93-part Instagram story that walks through her entire Instagram process.

I watched all 93 parts and took notes on Erica’s expertise, and am thrilled to share what I learned with you.

There’s a lot of practical gold in here.

How To Create Your Instagram Vibe

Erica starts at the beginning. All your social media should amplify your core business values. That’s #1. The goal is to attract customers you know are going to love you. You want to connect to the heart.

This is who we are, and I’m hoping it gets out there so that people who are actually really about those things will connect with it, and come in. We’re going to have way more better relationships and way more fun on social media if we’re genuinely connecting.

People should feel what your shop is like from your Instagram feed.

They will look at first 12-15 photos and get a sense of know what your business priorities are. For example: if a feed is all drinks and no people, then they’ll get the feeling you’re less people-centered.

Here’s what Erica says to do to find your values and create the right feelings.

  • Start listing out the things that are really imporant to you. For Arrow, Erica values: people, food, drinks, decor, and relationships with other business owners.
  • Pick a few image presets or filters you’ll always use. Erica loves VSCO for editing images. When you apply presents, your feed should feel like your shop – there shouldn’t be any disconnect.

If you don’t show your values, nobody’s going to know that they’re important for your company.

Read: What If I Alienate People With Stronger Marketing?

Planning Posts With A Priority Grid

Erica doesn’t have tons of time to curate the perfect feed. She’s got a business to run! So to keep things practical, she plans her posts using a clever grid system.

First, she draws a 3×4 grid of 12 boxes, then she adds a final box at the bottom for 13 total. This reprensents her posting calendar.

Next, she writes out her priorities, then breaks them down into sub-topics.

  • People — diversity, family, employees
  • Food — breakfast, lunch, pastries
  • Drinks — hot to go, iced to go

Once she has those categories written out to the side, she just plugs it into the grid so that it’s not repetitive.

In the 13-day period, she picks 3 times to show pastries and spaces them out. Next priority is food, so she scatters those out. Then drinks. Erica also leaves space for a “personal” post. This is an opportunity for a genuine showing of who Erika is and why she’s grateful for her community.

Note: Erica doesn’t make “people” category posts. Instead, she draws smiley faces on every other post to indicate that a person needs to be represented in the image. So whether it’s a pastry or a drink, if it has a smiley face, a person needs to be in there too.

Read: Everyone Needs To Fight For Something

erica's instagram grid for coffee shops

Erica then makes her grid into a list, hands it to employees, and they take care of the rest.

Content Writing For Instagram

The most annoying thing on Instagram is when you’re being sold all the time. It’s not genuine, nor does it reflect values. The content needs to match your values.

Erica’s rule of thumb is that only 10% of posts should be a direct sales post. The other 90%, be creative about how to communicate with customers. So what else do you say?

When you’re sharing your values and who you are, to me, it’s come way more naturally than I could have thought.

Erica suggests being informative, but not being sales-y. So it’s alright to say “Hey we have this new scone that’s delicious. It’s a chocolate hazenlut swirl scone.” But you shouldn’t always say “Stop in today or else!”

Write things that are heartfelt. It’s not just that you have a product, but that you have a product that really means something. Share why you love what you serve — get at the heart.

Read: 22 Cliches Coffee Marketers Always Use (+ What To Say Instead)

Erica shares a Tuna Club example. It’s her staff’s favorite sandwhich, and so they posted recently about how the whole team is starry-eyed over it. And customers loved it.

People want to love your company and know what you’re about, so don’t be afraid to get personal.

Gaining And Engaging With Followers

Instagram is social media, so if you treat it like a one-way announcement board, you’re going to miss out on a lot of activity and new customers.

Erica suggests three things:

  • Use local hashtags. If you’re in a smaller city or state, it can be easy to get in front of locals with #Portland. This works especially well in smaller towns, but large metro areas can have so many posts that yours doens’t really get noticed. Don’t worry about hashtags that’ll attract people from out of your are – it’s the locals who will actually spend money with you.
  • Actively engage with local businesses. Comment on their posts, engage with their followers. and make allies with other local business owners.
  • Find local influencers via local businesses. As you watch other local businesses and comment on their posts, you’ll start to find local influencers who engage too. Follow them, comment on their posts, and they’re likely to give your shop a visit.

And then came Erica’s final advice:

If you’re genuinely engaging with people online, they’re going to visit your feed. If they don’t see posts that align with their values, they’re not going to follow and they’re not going to engage. Give them something to connect with.

That concludes the notes I took. I encourage you to watch the stories for yourself – there’s more gold in there that I didn’t catch (I can only type so fast!).

A huge THANK YOU to Erica for your generous spirit and helpful insight ?

Hey 👋 I'm Garrett Oden

Hey 👋 I'm Garrett Oden

Freelance Coffee Marketer

I'm a coffee industry native who works with coffee brands around the world to create and execute captivating marketing strategies.

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