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Influencer Marketing for Restaurants

Leveraging the world of influencer marketing for your restaurant can be an effective way to grow your customer base, boost brand visibility, and expand your target audience. With so many options, it’s important to be selective when choosing partnerships, creating a strategy, and selecting which social media platforms will work best for your business.

Before you begin your influencer marketing journey, it’s important to have a plan of attack.

Here are 15 tips to get you started.

1. Define your Target Audience: Identify the type of customers you want to attract to your restaurant. This will help you choose the right influencers whose followers align with your target audience. Consider factors such as interests, age, location, and dining preferences.

2. Research Relevant Influencers: Look for influencers in your area who have a significant following among your target audience. Pay attention to their content, engagement rates, authenticity, and whether their style aligns with your brand.

3. Keep Partnerships Local: Regardless of the size of your operation, whether you manage multiple locations across several cities or run a small neighborhood cafe, don't neglect partnering with local content creators. These influencers are more likely to know your market and core customer base more than a national food blogger or big agency-run team. It’s all about authenticity in influencer marketing and because a large portion of their followers are likely to live in the same city, your prospects are more likely to trust their recommendations. To find food influencers from your hometown, browse through Instagram and TikTok for local hashtags such as #PhillyFoodBlogger, #ACRestaurants, #BrooklynFoodies.

4. Engage with Influencers: Follow and engage with relevant influencers on social media platforms to build a connection. Leave meaningful comments on their posts and share content that aligns with your brand.

5. Offer Unique Experiences: Invite influencers to dine at your restaurant and provide them with a unique and memorable experience. This could include taste testing new dishes, cooking classes, or meeting the chef. If you’re a new kid on the block, boost your brand awareness by hosting an influencer-only event. Not only will it expose the influencers and their audiences to your menu, but you'll get tons of free content (and exposure!) Just ask the content creators to tag you in their posts and don't forget to share their posts on your own social media. It's an easy way to load up on posts and stories.

6. Leverage Reviews: A majority of consumers today rely on reviews before trying a new restaurant. Invite influencers you think you’d like to work with to your restaurant for a free meal in exchange for a review. Then include the review on your website and social media to entice customers to order.

7. Create Shareable Moments: Design dishes or presentations that are visually appealing and shareable on social media. This will encourage influencers to take photos and videos to share with their followers.

8. Run Promotions and Contests: Collaborate with influencers to host giveaways, contests, or special promotions for their followers. This can create excitement and attract new customers.

9. Work with Micro Influencers: Micro-influencers are the smaller, and possibly newer, accounts that can be worth their weight in gold because, while they don't have a massive amount of followers, they have a loyal core base of followers. And unlike the big shots in the field of foodies, micro-influencers often have more availability and are eager to partner with local restaurants.

10. Hire Influencers for Content Creation: You don't need to work with influencers purely on a sponsored post basis. Most influencers have a unique set of skills such as photography, food styling, and copywriting and a keen understanding of what works in the digital space. Consider taking advantage of these skills to help you elevate your social media presence. If you like a brand’s vibe on social media, consider approaching them to create content such as recipe tutorials, menu photography, or event videos.

11. Use Influencer-generated Content: When influencers visit your restaurant, encourage them to create content about their experience. This could be anything from photos and videos to posts and stories. Then you can repost this content on your own social media channels. Always make sure to give the influencer credit, of course!

12. Analyze Results: Keep track of the influencer marketing campaign performance. Analyze metrics such as foot traffic, social media engagement, website visits, and reservations to evaluate the effectiveness of the partnership.

13. Build long-term relationships: Consider forming long-term partnerships with influencers who genuinely enjoy your restaurant and resonate with your brand. Long-term collaborations can lead to the most authentic and impactful marketing results.

14. Hammer out the Details: Finally, before entering into a partnership with an influencer, it’s important to hammer out the details and communicate expectations.

  • What are your goals? Consider your specific goals for the collaboration, such as promoting a new menu item, growing your base, or boosting online orders before approaching an influencer.

  • What’s the Setting? When will your event take place and who else will be needed for the event? Will you need staff? Do you want to invite members of the press?

  • What are the terms and conditions? Will you be able to share the content on your restaurant’s digital channels? Make sure these details are hammered out ahead of the event.

  • How will the influencer be compensated? Will you compensate the influencer with money, a free meal, or a gift card?

Selecting Social Media Platforms

When selecting social media platforms for an influencer marketing campaign, consider your target audience's preferences and the content that best aligns with your brand. Many restaurants find success utilizing a combination of platforms, while others focus on the ones that cater to their audience. The effectiveness of each platform will vary based on your target audience and the type of content you want to promote. Always measure the results of your influencer marketing efforts on each platform to optimize your strategy over time.

TikTok: TikTok has exploded in popularity lately, especially among younger audiences. Short, creative, and fun videos can go viral quickly, providing an opportunity to showcase your restaurant's menu, ambiance, and vibe in a captivating way.

Instagram: Instagram is one of the most popular platforms for influencer marketing. It is highly visual, making it perfect for showcasing food and the dining experience. Influencers can share photos, videos, and stories, making it easy to create engaging content about your restaurant.

YouTube: YouTube is a, effective platform for longer-form content, such as restaurant reviews, behind-the-scenes kitchen tours, and cooking demos. Food vloggers and content creators can give in-depth insights into your restaurant, attracting viewers who are looking to explore new dining experiences.

Facebook: Facebook continues to be a valuable platform for influencer marketing, particularly for reaching a broader demographic. Influencers can share posts, photos, videos, and host live streams to engage with their followers.

Twitter: Twitter can be useful for influencers to share quick updates, promote events, or create a buzz around promotions at your restaurant. Influencers can connect with their followers IRT and encourage them to visit your establishment.

Threads: The newest player to enter the social media game, Threads promises to be an effective tool for restaurants to share updates, promote events, and create excitement around new menu items. With more characters available, Threads gives restaurant influencers a space to connect with followers in real time.

Yelp: Though not a traditional social media platform, Yelp is essential for restaurant marketing. Encourage influencers to leave positive reviews and ratings on these platforms to improve your restaurant's online reputation.

Food Bloggers: While not a specific social media platform, partnering with food bloggers who have a strong online presence can be beneficial. Food bloggers often have dedicated followers who trust their recommendations and opinions on dining experiences.

Take Away

Successful influencer marketing campaigns are built on authentic relationships and engaging experiences. By partnering with social media influencers, restaurants can capitalize on this trend to expand their customer reach, create engaging content, and increase brand awareness.

By Eileen Strauss


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