There’s no hard and fast rule to engaging food influencers. The reason is that there is more than just one type of influencer in that scope. You have celebrity chefs, food bloggers, vloggers, industry experts, etc. So many types of influencers catering to all sorts of audiences to choose from but who exactly would be the most ideal for your restaurant? That has to be done through research. Here are a few tips to get your influencer searching journey kickstarted.
3 Main Factors to consider before engaging an Influencer
Deciding on which platform isn’t an easy feat but it is wise to choose which channel you wish to utilise before reaching out to influencers. Most of the time, YouTube or Instagram are reliable channels to consider for this industry.
If your dishes offer high aesthetic appeal, is interesting or if your location has “Instagrammable” spots, consider focusing on Instagram influencer marketing. You can easily attract new customers, especially millennials when come across irresistible photos of your food posted by these foodie influencers.
You may work with a YouTuber to create videos to show potential customers how your restaurant stands out from the rest. Mukbang and ASMR videos are very popular in recent years as well, if you own a QSR or FSR establishment you could offer to send them a series of signature dishes for them to create content with as paid promotion. Alternatively, there are YouTubers that go around sampling food from and creating vlogs rather than crafted videos, you could approach Vloggers to increase brand awareness of your establishment.
As a general rule of thumb, the more following an influencer has, the more expensive it will be for you to collaborate with them. However, there are areas where you can negotiate on the payments and you may be able to offer free meals as part of the compensation. Some payment methods go by the influencer’s rates, for example, an Instagram post could be around $500, and a YouTube
video could go up a lot more in price because of the effort in editing required.
Other than just the payment budgeted for the influencer, you will also need to decide if you want to set aside a sum for a giveaway or contest as part of your marketing campaign. For example, you can collaborate with a food influencer to have their followers to like and share a post for a chance to win prizes. Giveaways generate a lot of excitement and can quickly increase your establishment’s brand awareness.
Working with a food influencer is essentially about building a partnership in which every party stands to benefit. You get to gain exposure to their followers, and the influencer receives unique content to keep their followers engaged. Long-term partnerships can be mutually beneficial because you’ll constantly attract new customers, while the influencer will enjoy a steady flow of content.
However, if your goal is to promote a one-time event and you only need a single post, it is important to be clear in explaining your goals to the influencer, so that they know what to expect.
The Next Step
Compile a list of potential influencers
Check out who are the local influencers that have a decent amount of followers and level of activity. You can find influencers by exploring the search function on Instagram, look out for hashtags like #foodie, #foodinfluencer, etc to narrow your scope to the food industry. Or you could also search for “Best Restaurants in (your area)”, and identify all the local influencers that have done vlogs on YouTube introducing restaurants in that region. Another way to find more influencers is to have a look at your competitors to see if they’re engaging with any.
Get to know the influencers and ask the right questions
There are a lot of questions to be asked to find the influencer that is most suitable to represent your brand. Some key questions to ask are
What are their fees like?
What partnerships have they had with other brands in the past? Or have ongoing?
What kind of content do they produce and how often?
What type of audiences do they have?
Do some background research into their past campaigns
Search for their past partnership posts and have a look at the metrics. Look at the likes, comments to get a sense of how well-received the posts are. Whether the posts that had more engagement were static pictures or in video form, were they done in a story form or in a vlog form. All these are decisions that you will have to make especially if you have a tight budget and want to make good use of your available resources.
Establish a mutual agreement
A black-and-white agreement helps to make sure that everyone understands the terms and conditions and eliminates any miscommunication. Once you have chosen which influencer to work with, you should establish an agreement that includes the following:
The duration of the partnership
The type of content they will create
Key points to be mentioned in the content
Date and time of posting content
Number of posts
How the compensation will be done
Any other terms and conditions that you deem fit and agree upon
Monitor their activity
Keep track of the follower growth on your restaurant’s account daily and remember to check the metrics to see how the audience is engaging with your content. For example on Instagram, you visualize engagement metrics under the Activity tab. Monitor frequently how many likes, comments are on the post/video content. Also remember to look at the quality of comments, whether people are asking about the food, asking about the restaurant, etc.
To track your restaurant’s orders and to see if it comes directly from the influencer, you can get them to add a unique tracking link that allows followers to order your food online and thereby be able to determine your ROI. Alternatively, you can also offer a special discount code and track the number of orders that were made through that code to see if there was a rise in sales.
If the influencer is posting your restaurant website on their account, do make sure that you include a unique tracking link. This lets you find out how people got to your website so that you can assess the public sentiment for this particular campaign.
Additional questions that you may want to ask yourself as well:
Are people commenting about your restaurant?
Are you getting new followers on your restaurant’s social media?
Is your website seeing an increase in visitors?
Are new customers coming into your restaurant?
If your answers are positive because of the campaign implemented and you do see a substantial amount of ROI coming from this campaign effort, then it will be worthwhile to sit down and discuss an extended collaboration with the influencer.