restaurant influencer marketing vectors
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

While influencer marketing is not a new term in the digital marketing world, it has reached new heights in the past decade. As of 2019, it was a $6.5 million industry. Influencers and marketing go hand in hand. That’s why you need to learn how to do restaurant influencer marketing and take advantage of food influencers to increase your popularity both online and offline.

Each dollar spent on influencer marketing leads to an average earning of $7.65. Moreover, the average Instagram influencer conversion rate is 2.55%. In 2020, the rise of influencer marketing is unstoppable. Social media referrals profoundly affect customers’ purchase intention. We show you why partnering with restaurant influencers is desirable and how to do it efficiently.

Influencer Marketing for Restaurants: What’s the Catch?

The main question is, what is a food influencer? Gone are the days when companies offered a pretty penny to movie celebrities, music stars, and athletes for promoting their products. Today, the referral is only powerful when it’s coming from an average person with whom the target market can relate.

Food influencers on Instagram are usually regular people who have gained an online following by being really good at what they do. Any social media food influencers follow the same pattern – they’re not what you would call celebrities but they’re incredibly loved and respected by their fans.

What’s in It for Restaurants?

As restaurant influencer marketing keeps evolving and using influencers for restaurants becomes the norm, most eateries are also adapting to new marketing ideas. Influencer marketing is the new word-of-mouth for restaurants. Since food-enthusiasts are always on the hunt for the best of the best, off-the-beaten-path, unique cuisines, restaurant reviewers and kitchen influencers have some pull.

Influencers are ordinary people known as bloggers, vloggers, and reviewers who have a fan following on social media. People look up to them for guidance. They are generally called web celebrities as they gain fame and make a name for themselves by sharing photos and videos.

Evidence suggests that food and beverage influencers can shape positive perceptions of the audience as they interact with their supporters on a more personal level and remain authentic to themselves. If you are out of marketing ideas for your restaurant or bar, you can use these eight restaurant influencer marketing tips to amplify your brand and increase your chances of success.

Without further ado, let’s start.

8 Ways to Use Restaurant Influencer Marketing

1. Think Global, Act Local

In this increasingly connected world, marketers have no choice except to ‘Think & Act Glocal’ (global +local). Because top food influencers are viewed as the most valued partners of brands in the twenty-first century, we suggest restaurants to ‘Think Globally’ with them.

What made the influencer business profitable is that influencers know the cultural norms and preferences of their local market well. One can expect that they are already drawing the interest of the same consumers you are trying to approach.

The restaurant influencer strategy is the most appropriate for striking the picture-perfect balance between global and local by activating a network of worldwide influencers. It doesn’t matter if your goal is just social growth or gaining more customers, food influencers can help.

2. It’s Always About the Customers

It’s a universal marketing principle to know your audience first. But merely focusing on ‘Who’ your audience is, neglects a crucial aspect of ‘Where’ your audience is. So, before you brainstorm Instagram marketing ideas, you must know if you can reach your target demographic on this platform.

If not, which social media platforms do your customers use? Which type of posts do they follow? What products do they like to buy? If your audience is young, it’s best to look for them on Instagram and Snapchat and contact millennial food influencers.

Gathering such rich insight will allow you to connect with profitable customers and cultivate a good relationship with them. It will also help you choose the right food blogger influencer for your business.

3. Set Up an Instagram Business Account

In the digital world, Instagram has emerged as a critical channel. Being both a communication medium and a visual platform, it works exceptionally well for attracting customers with tempting photos of food.

It is a prime choice for most restaurant business setups, so we advise you to consider it as your primary weapon. There are plenty of Instagram food influencers out there who would be willing to work with your brand.

4. Find the Right Influencer

The right influencers are the ones who are based in the same industry as you. However, picking the dream influencer is not as easy as it seems. Ideally, you should find the best fit who will get maximum results for your eatery.

Before you start your search, be clear about your brand voice. Do you want to be seen as serious or funny? Bold, quirky, and easy-going, or older, more severe and reserved? Always consider the preferences of your target market and then find out whether the style and personality of the influencer match with it.

When choosing one, you can go to a food influencer agency like Foodie Tribe or you can browse Instagram by yourself using hashtags that interest you like #italianrestaurant, #chinesefood or #thaieatery. Remember that based on your cuisine, you might have to look specifically for healthy food influencers or fast food influencers. Not everyone will be a perfect fit.

Additionally, if you own a small local restaurant, you should aim for micro-influencers (up to 10,000 followers) who live in your area. Locals reviewing local food will look more trustworthy to your potential customers.

5. Build Solid Influencer Relationships Over Social Media

Connecting with influential people and maintaining that trustworthy bond is more important than you think. Striking up a long-term relationship with a food blogger influencer will have favorable outcomes for both of you.

Remember that credible brands are made of good relationships, not ‘one-night-stands.’ The takeaway is to avoid asking them to promote your restaurant hastily. Instead, build rapport by investing in meaningful interactions and sharing their content with your audience.

6. Craft an Enticing Proposition

After you’ve researched the best influencers in town, it’s time to learn how to ask for collaboration on Instagram or any other social media platform you’re using. As a rule of thumb, focus your efforts on just one platform (the one that works best for your following) at the beginning, especially if you’re short on cash.

Crafting an enticing proposition is the next big step. It doesn’t matter if you sell a tiny product like a hairpin or people buy dissertation services from you online, you must create a compelling value proposition.

If you’re on a tight influencer marketing budget, let them know you are their top fan and would love to offer them free lunch at your restaurant with friends or family. Then, the law of reciprocity will take effect. Usually, influencers will say yes to your offer and post about your food, ambiance, and service in return.

You can approach them through direct messages on Instagram or private messages on Facebook. Remember to see them as your brand partners and treat them with extra care. Your goal is to make this a long-term relationship. They will be brand ambassadors of your restaurant that will help you thrive with their influencer marketing results.

7. Create Authentic Sponsored Content

Each brand has its own distinguishable and unique style; you can use Instagram aesthetics and some food influencer marketing tactics to make sure that your content stands out in the crowd. You have to invest in a partnership with your influencers so that they will post quality content related to your food and customer service. To market the brand, ambassadorial roles can take on many forms.

The sponsored content post strategy is one of the best food influencer campaigns you can try. It works best for most food brands, but you should have a large budget to pay for it.

While restaurant influencer marketing has great potential for your restaurant growth, be cautious of fake influencers. Yes, you heard it right! There are some influencers out there who claim huge fan following, which is mostly bogus. Real influencers are always on a journey to discover new restaurants on their own.

8. Don’t Forget to Measure Your Influencer Marketing Effectiveness

One strategy to pinpoint fraudulent influencers and followers is to measure their engagement rates and reach. You want to see how far the message of your brand has traveled. The higher the reach of the marketing campaign, the higher the sales and traffic to your brand.

Get Started with These Restaurant Influencer Strategies

  • Invite them to your grand opening. If you’re a brand-new restaurant, one of the most effective ways of creating buzz around your restaurant is to throw a lavish grand opening where you invite local influencers.
  • Have them taste your new menu or dish. If you’ve recently changed your menu or introduced a new dish, call on local foodies to taste them first.
  • Give them a special code to offer a discount to their followers. Special offers look good for both you and the influencer. The good news is that if you give them a code, you can track your return on investment easily.
  • Offer them a complimentary meal. In exchange for a review, of course. Make sure they’re aware of that but at the same time, don’t feed them (pun intended) what to write. Let your food and service speak for themselves.
  • Bring them behind the scenes. Everyone loves peaking behind closed curtains to see what people (in this case restaurants) are hiding. Take a food influencer in the kitchen and have them record your chef preparing a popular dish.

Conclusion

Our research on social media influencers has shown that restaurant influencer marketing has dramatically impacted our society, and this trend seems irreversible. Given the influencer marketing effectiveness statistics we presented above, it makes sense why you would invest in an influencer campaign.

There are many conditions you have to fulfill before you reap the fruits of restaurant influencer marketing for your food brand in terms of positive brand recognition and sales number. However, you will be rewarded in the long run.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She delivers business-optimized content to help restaurants boost sales and grow their brand.