Influencer Marketing Tips and Tricks for the Restaurant Industry


Social media was first and foremost a platform for individuals to share their life events. Over the years, our feeds have been infiltrated with paid advertisements. It’s hard to think of a time when there were no businesses on social media.

Recently, Facebook has changed their algorithm (yet again) to limit business advertisement space and keep the focus on friends and family posts. Facebook wants to bring back its authenticity and get back to the whole reason why it started – to share life moments. We expect to start seeing other platforms do the same.

With more competition, less companies will be able to afford paid advertisement space. A decent budget will be stretched thinner and will reach a lower audience size.

So, how does Agency Creative plan to reach more people on social media without forking over more money? Influencer marketing.

It’s a no brainer that influencer marketing, or Peer-to-Peer (P2P), has become a key way to more affordably and accurately reach new audiences. Placing your product in the hands of real people and letting them do the talking is going to yield a greater return on investment.

Whether they know it or not, 82% of Americans seek recommendations from friends and family before purchasing a product. You also see this in the restaurant industry. People rely on reviews and recommendations before trying out a new place for dinner.

So, before you think about expanding your paid social budget, try these influencer marketing strategies first. We know we will.

Find Your Influencers

Influencers are those with highly engaged followers who trust the influencer’s recommendations. An influencer can be anyone, not just a celebrity.

“Micro-influencers” or those with a follower count of less than 5,000 may not have a large crowd but they do tend to have the most loyal followers. With a smaller overall reach, these influencers will be affordable.

So, how do you find these influencers?

First, we recommend creating an “influencer persona”. Just like your buyer persona, think strategically about who you want to share your restaurant’s story. Consider their audience, voice and style. You want genuine influencers.

Check out who has been tagging you and mentioning your restaurant without you even asking. Capitalize on those who are already on your side and post about your brand without compensation. Invite them to try a new menu item and enjoy a complimentary drink on the house.

Next, look into a few influencer platforms like Tapinfluence, Upfluence or Buzzsumo. These platforms are made for companies looking for brand reps and influencers.

We also advise that you look at local food social media accounts and see if you can get local foodies in for a complimentary dinner. Their audience is exactly who you need in your doors. In Dallas, @bestfooddallas, @tasteofdallas and @ohheydallas are just a few restaurant influencers.

Incentivise Your Influencers

Influencers should be paid for posting content on your restaurant’s behalf. They have worked countless hours to grow a loyal following. Some will have a dollar amount in mind and others might post with just a complimentary dinner. It really depends on the influencer.

Imagine spending $150 for an influencer to post one user-generated image with an authentic caption to their highly engaged and loyal following of 3500 rather than giving Facebook $150 to reach an audience they select for you.

When it comes to using customers as your influencers, it’s hard to ask people to post without something in return. Think of ways to incentivise people to post on social media.

We have seen restaurants offer a free appetizer or drink voucher in return for a Google+ review or for sharing a recent Facebook post. We have also seen these posts entered to win a greater prize. Have a new offer each month!

For example, everyone who writes a Facebook review during July 2018 will be entered to win a $50 gift card. This is going to create buzz and get people sharing your content to their personal timelines, without paying them to do so.

However, influencers aren’t always paid in money, prizes or food.

Equip Your Influencers

Influencers are also those who leave reviews and post at your restaurant just because they want to. They have either had a great experience (or a bad one) and want to tell the world about it without a bribe.

Equip your visitors with the ability to post about your food and atmosphere. Make sure your restaurant has social media accounts and a thoughtful hashtag for people to tag. Add your social media information to table tents, coasters or check presenters. Encourage your wait staff to talk to their customers about posting on social media about their experience. Make it as easy as possible for people to talk about your restaurant.

Check out one of our favorite projects with Fridays for International Beer Day.

Analyze Your Influencers

In order to determine if your influencer marketing efforts are working, look at a few important KPIs such as referrals. With more people talking about your restaurant online, you should see an increase in referral traffic from other websites and social media channels. Increasing these backlinks are great for SEO and will help your website for much longer than your influencer campaign timeline.

Keeping track over your analytics is critical in today’s marketing world. At Agency Creative, we track campaign metrics through our dashboard technology, called Radar. It’s a dashboard, that can pull all of your important metrics, including referral traffic sources, into one easy-to-use space.

Influencer marketing will only continue to grow as social media platforms prioritize user content over business content. Although it is more challenging, your budget will stretch farther in the long run. Plus, who doesn’t want to improve customer engagement?

Stay ahead of the curve and incorporate a few of our influencer marketing ideas. Need more ideas? Get in touch.