How to engage and use social media influencers

16 March 2023
How to engage and use social media influencers

Who should you pick, which platform and how should they brag about your brand? Vicky White has some guidelines on selecting an influencer

If you're not already using influencer marketing as part of your strategy, you are missing out on a big opportunity. Social media influencers have become the backbone of all trends. In fact, they're the ones that are making them. Instead of Googling we now look to TikTok, Instagram and our trusted influencers for recommendations, from where to grab the best coffee to finding new and buzzing food spots. Here are some practical ways to get the most out of influencer marketing for restaurants.

Why use influencers?

The power of influencers' quick reviews through video and photo content have helped many restaurants increase brand recognition, engagement and, crucially, footfall. Influencer marketing can be accessible for restaurants of all sizes and, for most, it's about finding micro-influencers in your area who have a local following.

Simply put, influencers are followed by people who feel the influencers' lifestyles and content are relevant to them – what they have, what they do and where they eat. People want to mimic them and get involved.

How to start using influencers

Success with influencer marketing relies on doing research and planning to ensure you partner with the right influencers and on the right platforms.

Begin by mapping out your audience demographics. For example, are your guests professionals, families, vegans or meat lovers? Influencers tend to have a niche, so it's very important to define your ideal customer.

Next, establish which channels you are going to use. There are several to consider, including Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube. The channels you use should be where your audience ‘hang out', so to speak. For example, Gen Zs tend to use TikTok, while the 30-somethings are still on Instagram. Food influencers may also have a blog, which is another great way for you to reach your audience.

Which influencer?

You need to choose influencers who are local and have a large and engaged online following. Check their follower numbers as well as how many people comment and react to their posts. Check out their style and how they portray themselves, and decide if they align with your brand.

Work out what you're willing to offer the influencers you work with. Quite often food influencers would be happy to promote your restaurant in exchange for a complimentary meal. You should allow them to invite at least one other guest and you must also be clear in your offering about what their visit includes. ie, they can have a starter, main, dessert and drinks. If they have a particularly large following and request a fee in return for coming and posting about your restaurant, ask them for more details about the kind of engagement they get. If they ‘influence' for a living, they should be able to show you some analytics to justify their fee.

Working with influencers

Every influencer is different – some prefer video, while others prefer posts or blogs. It's up to you to discuss with the influencer what the best fit would be for both of you.

Give them instructions on what you expect. That could be one video, two posts, three stories and a feature in their blog. Set timescales on when you would like the influencer to post.

Choosing when to invite influencers is also worth considering. You might only offer the invitation during quieter times or if you have a new seasonal menu you would like to push.

Once your influencer has visited your restaurant, monitor the activity. How many impressions did their post receive? Are there comments on the posts that show you are getting the right response? Have your followers and website visits increased as a result?

There's no question that in today's world, working with influencers is one of the most impactful restaurant marketing strategies you can try for your business. The guidance above will ensure you're reaching your target audience and building meaningful influencer relationships in order to get the best return on investment.

Vicky White is the founder of restaurant marketing agency Appetite

Photo: – Yuri A/Shutterstock

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