How to use influencer marketing for your restaurant in 2019
Whether you are an avid Instagram user or not, you have surely been exposed to the ‘influencer marketing’ wave and have most likely been contacted by one in the last year. Influencer marketing is quickly changing the rules of marketing for many businesses. It will be very important for your restaurant to understand how to use influencer marketing correctly, in order to stay up to date and unleash the power of this new opportunity. Scroll down to the end to download your Digital Marketing Checklist now!
So what is an influencer you ask?
How do you categorise someone as such? As the word reveals, influencers are people who have an influence over a certain audience. They are a loyal and very engaged audience in general. Influencers can be categorised in micro and macro categories, depending on the size of their audience. Usually, anyone below 20.000 followers is a micro influencer, while macro influencers are people with a larger audience who are generally famous or well know within a certain niche. What niche an influencer is a part of is a very important factor to note with regards to the audience you want to reach. Someone who has a 100.000 or even 500.000 followers in one niche, might be completely unknown to audiences who are in another.
Finding the right audience
The online world is made of sub-universes which are based on one fundamental concept: passion points. Passion points are an area of interests which attracts a certain type of person. Just think about what you are personally passionate about (food, travel, sports) and how that reflects your behaviours online. Influencers are in most cases (and even more when they have big accounts) focused on one passion point and their audience will naturally be interested in that specific topic. This is great for brands and businesses because it naturally segments the audience you will talk to and by choosing the right influencer. You know you will be tapping into an audience that cares about your message.
The more followers the better? Not necessarily...
Another important point to understand is the commercial side of influencer marketing. Influencer marketing, like any type of marketing, requires a dedicated budget. This budget can take the form of actual payment to the influencer or of a complementary offer (such as a free dinner). Depending on the size of the influencers following (micro or macro) the budget and the transaction will differ. With influencers who have accounts of less than 50.000 followers, the transaction will usually be based on a complementary offer in exchange for content and exposure on their platforms. On the other hand, if you want to work with an influencer with one million followers you will have to pay a high fee for their posts (which can be very expensive). At Hank, for our restauranteur clients, we prefer setting up campaigns with smaller influencers as their audience is more engaged and a lot more loyal.
6 steps on how-to use influencer marketing for your restaurant
This is not an exhaustive list, but a thought starter and an introduction on how you can use this powerful tool in your marketing plan. At Hank, we strongly believe in the power of influencer marketing and see first hand how much a well-crafted campaign can impact not only the image of your business but also direct sales.
1. Define the platform you want to focus on
Influencers nowadays can be found operating on several platforms at once (Instagram, Blogs, Snapchat, YouTube), but they will have the most influence through one specific platform. This is the platform on which they focus on the most and their main revenue stream. Instagram and YouTube are the number one platforms used for influencer marketing and are the best platforms to showcase your restaurant in a timely manner, through powerful photography and video. If you are looking for a written review, which will remain available online for people to read, then you can focus on an influencer who blogs. Bloggers often, but not always have big Instagram accounts, but it is definitely possible to find people who offer both.
2. Carefully select your influencer
Finding the right person to represent your brand is a fundamental part of a successful influencer campaign. For restaurants, you want someone who typically covers topics related to food and/or travel. These type of influencers will promote your restaurant in a way that organically fits with their profile, they will also be able to create content that you can use on your social media platforms in the future. This doesn’t mean you cannot invite a fashion or yoga blogger to work with you, but if you do, you need to make sure there is some kind of connection between your offer and theirs. We prefer to focus on influencers that can truly embody your business offer and values, in order to create powerful connections.
3. Check their engagement rate and not only their follower numbers
This might sound crazy, or impossible (and ridiculous) to many, but the Instagram world is not as transparent and fair as it looks. There are far too many influencers who have either bought part of their following or even their ‘likes’. A good way to spot an influencer who has a fake following is, in fact, to check their engagement rate on several posts. On this graph from Influencer Marketing Hub you can see what good and realistic engagement rates look like. If an influencer has 50,000 followers but only has 500 likes on his or her post, then you know they probably bought their followers. Viceversa, if the same influencer has too many likes, he most likely bought some likes.
Why you should care? Because working with influencers who are not genuine will hurt your brand and waste your time. People, especially on Instagram, truly engage and generally care about the messages they get exposed to. Instagram is a community-based app and influencer marketing is entirely based on community engagement. In order for your campaign to succeed you will want to select a pool of influencers who are trustworthy. At Hank, we have nurtured and connected with a group of influencers who have strong storytelling abilities, create professional and engaging content and use the power of an authentic connection with their audience.
4. Define and share guidelines
More often than we would like to, we have seen restaurants and brands in general set up a campaign with influencers without defining a set of guidelines. A set of guidelines to share with the influencer is a very useful process that ensures both parties are aligned on the campaign, tone of voice and messaging. Ensuring there is no awkward surprise to handle when the campaign starts to drift off in the wrong direction. Within these guidelines, you will want to share what type of content they will need to produce for you, how many posts they will have to share on their account or write on their blog. It will also note what type of hashtags, tags and location they must use and any specific message or visuals they should share and focus on.
5. Set up a plan with a dedicated budget
As mentioned before, influencer marketing should be treated as any other form of marketing, requiring a dedicated budget and a sound plan. It makes very little sense to have one influencer come over to your restaurant every six months. Continuity and a schedule will ensure that your restaurant starts really tapping into the power of the community and of the ‘online’ word of mouth. If your restaurant has a consistent influencer campaign, with influencers visiting at least twice a month, it will quickly become known online.
6. Create a good relationship
As obvious as it might sound, don’t forget that ‘influencers’ are people first, influencers second. They are very normal people, who share their experiences with another group of very normal people. If they have a great experience you can be sure they will share their enthusiastic reviews and become the most genuine ambassadors of your business. This doesn’t mean that you need to put up a show for them, but just treat them as you would treat any customer, with the goal of creating a good relationship which mutually benefits both of you. In our work with influencers, we value authenticity and we strive to create long-lasting partnerships with collaborators who will advocate your restaurant, even when they are offline.
Is your digital strategy set for 2019? Download our free 2019 Digital Marketing Checklist and start the year with a solid plan.
The points in this article are some simple but key digital marketing strategies for a restaurant to succeed in 2019. At Hank we help businesses in the hospitality industry, including restaurant like yours, define what strategy fits their needs and their commercial objectives. We then turn those strategies into successful realities, all while you continue running that special business of yours.