Food for Fame: A Guide to Working With Restaurant Influencers
Although restaurant influencers may seem like a phenomenon birthed by the digital age, it’s not really a new thing. When you think about influencers of the past, it’s true that aristocrats, politicians and celebrities once dictated what was in vogue. Nowadays, people don’t need fame or fortune to impact behavior: they just need a social media presence and a loyal following.
In this guide to influencer marketing for restaurants, you’ll learn everything you need to know about leveraging the power of these creators for your business’ benefit.
Why You Should Consider Influencer Marketing for Your Restaurant
Social media has changed the way diners discover restaurants. Thirty percent of Gen Z diners and 20% of Millennial diners discover new restaurants on Instagram, while 21% of Gen Z diners rely on TikTok to make dining decisions.
Think of social media as the new restaurant critic. In fact, nearly two in five Gen Z diners have gone to a new restaurant they learned about through a social media influencer. And when an influencer posts about a specific dish, Millennials are two times more likely to order it.
Some newer food bloggers and Instagram influencers might recommend restaurants out of the goodness of their hearts, but most established personalities partner with restaurants that can benefit from their recommendations. If influencer marketing isn’t already part of your restaurant’s marketing approach, it’s time to rethink your strategy.
To learn more about how channels like social media have changed the way consumers discover new restaurants, check out the guide below.
Profit potential: Influencer campaigns generate a return on investment that’s 11 times greater than traditional forms of digital advertising. In other words, food influencers are a better bang for your buck.
Inherent trust: Influencer marketing is word-of-mouth marketing for the digital age. People trust their favorite influencers to give good recommendations more than they trust businesses, and younger generations are doubly likely to trust influencers than Baby Boomers. Influencers rely on their reputations for success, so diners hold their recommendations in high regard.
Hands-off marketing: Influencers do the work for you. They can craft a message about your restaurant that resonates with their audience because they know their audience better than you do. They also create polished images and media on your behalf.
New exposure: Partnering with influencers on promotions exposes your restaurant to new audiences. They put your business in front of foodies who may not have previously been familiar with your restaurant.
How to Find the Right Influencers to Promote Your Restaurant
A successful influencer marketing campaign for restaurants begins with finding the right content creators to partner with. Here’s where to find them:
First, audit your existing followers. If they are already familiar with your brand, they’ll be willing to collaborate. Look for a blue checkmark next to Instagram or TikTok profiles, which indicates a verified influencer profile.
Pro tip: Don’t limit your search to influencers with large audiences. Micro-influencers, or those with fewer than 100,000 followers, can also be effective partners.
Your influencer marketing efforts will be most effective when you work with creators who live near your restaurant. Find local influencers by conducting a Google search of “restaurant influencers [your city]” or by searching hashtags relevant to your local food scene on social media.
There are a number of influencer databases that make it easier to filter through influencers who are looking for collaborations, like Upfluence and Modash. TikTok’s Creator Marketplace is also a great resource for finding creators.
How to Run an Influencer Campaign
Follow these steps to make the most of your collaboration with restaurant influencers:
1. Set Goals
Establish a purpose for your influencer marketing campaign. What do you want to achieve? Why now?
Create SMART campaign goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
For example, if you want to promote a new menu item, you could set a campaign goal of getting 2,000 impressions on your social media posts related to the new item within seven days of its launch.
2. Create a Campaign
Next, create a campaign that uses influencers to meet those goals. Restaurants commonly ask influencers to create sponsored posts or invite them to influencer events and ask them to post about the events.
Based on your deliverables, decide how many influencers you want to work with and which media platforms you want to target.
Restaurant influencers don’t work for free; they’ll want something in exchange for putting your business in front of their audience. Some content creators will be happy to post in exchange for a free meal, while others will ask for food and payment.
According to Influencer Marketing Hub, pricing can vary anywhere from $5 to $25k+ per post depending upon the influencer’s following and the social platform. Figure out how much you’re willing to spend and set a budget for your campaign.
4. Reach Out to Restaurant Influencers
Reach out to the influencers you’ve identified as good fits for your campaign; most have websites, linktrees, or media kits available for prospective customers. If you can’t find public contact information, send a direct message. Tell them about your campaign and ask if they want to get on board.
5. Vet Influencers
Ask interested influencers for their media kits. This document will contain information about the creator’s target audience, engagement metrics, past partnership results, services and pricing. Use this additional data to help you choose the best influencers for your restaurant.
6. Negotiate Terms
Once you’ve found influencers interested in working with you, it’s time to negotiate terms. Share what you expect from this collaboration, such as what kinds of deliverables you want, how much control you want over the final product and how influencers should disclose the collaboration. Discuss compensation and be ready to negotiate.
It’s helpful to understand how influencers charge for their work. Pricing usually depends on the:
Type of post: e.g., an Instagram Post that stays on the influencer’s feed permanently will likely cost more than an ephemeral Story
Number of posts: the more you want, the more you can expect to pay
Types of media you’re asking for: a highly-edited TikTok video may cost more than an Instagram photo
Platforms you want to reach: Influencers may charge more to post on platforms where they have a larger audience
7. Create a Contract
Put the terms you’ve agreed on into a contract to protect both parties and set the collaboration off on the right foot. You can work with a lawyer or find a contract template online.
Now it’s time for the influencers to work their magic. If you’ve agreed on sponsored posts, send influencers the resources they need to create them. Review the posts before they’re published, and ask for revisions as needed.
If you’re putting together an influencer event, it’s time to organize the event and manage the guest list. Make sure influencers hold up their end of the deal by posting the types of deliverables you agreed to.
9. Evaluate Performance
After your influencer marketing campaign is over, you need to measure its success. Did you meet your goals? Evaluate your return on investment to learn if you should do a similar collaboration in the future or direct your budget towards other marketing efforts.
Pro tip: For sponsored posts, ask influencers to share their analytics with you. Look at things like reach, likes, comments and conversions. Also, pay attention to an uptick in followers or restaurant visits.
Influencer Marketing for Restaurants: A Slice of the Omnichannel Marketing Pie
Influencer marketing can be an effective marketing tactic for restaurants, but it should only be one part of an omnichannel strategy. Omnichannel marketing for restaurants involves using multiple tactics and instead of just one medium.
Create a healthy marketing mix by employing influencer marketing, organic and paid social media marketing, email marketing, advertising, events and more. As you evaluate the effectiveness of each channel, you can change how much you invest in each one.
SevenRooms’ suite of restaurant marketing tools makes implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy easier. Book a demo today.
FAQs About Restaurant Influencers
1. What Is a Restaurant Influencer?
A restaurant influencer is a person with a loyal online following who promotes a restaurant on their social media platforms or through other means. Influencers usually get compensated by restaurants to promote them.
2. How Do I Get Influencers to Promote My Restaurant?
If you want influencers to promote your restaurant, you need to reach out to them, tell them what you’re looking for and what you can offer them in return for promotion and negotiate a deal.
3. How Much Do You Pay an Influencer?
On average, influencers charge $906 per sponsored Instagram Story, $1,170 per sponsored Instagram post, and $3,514 per sponsored TikTok. Influencers who are just getting started may feel comfortable posting about your restaurant in exchange for a free meal.