What is an influencer in the restaurant world?
These are bloggers, Instagrammers, YouTubers etc. who have established credibility by attracting large numbers of followers online. Some benchmark an influencer as someone with 10k+ followers - but the serious influencers are those with 100k+ followers, even several million. A number of these influencers are celebrities, but many are “normal” people who have established themselves as someone others want to follow.
Attracting and managing key influencers
Find the right influencers. The impact influencers have comes from their posts – if they mention a restaurant to 150k followers, for example, then that restaurant is highly likely to see an increase in business. However, few influencers will mention a restaurant simply because they are asked (or even paid) to. There also needs to be an element of “good fit.” Find the influencer that fits in terms of the type of food (e.g. French or fried chicken), the audience (e.g. millennial) and the kind of content they publish (e.g. just images).
Take a creative approach. Influencers get a lot of requests for partnerships, collaboration and mentions. You need to stand out – and that means doing more than simply getting in touch and offering cash or free food. Some restaurants hold evenings for influencers where they can learn new skills or taste something extraordinary. Others offer gifts of items that aren’t on public sale, or that are expensive or hard to get. These are very appealing for an influencer, both personally and in terms of helping them to create new content for their platform. If you want an influencer to associate themselves with your brand then you need to incentivise them.
Give influencers a reason to support you. This could be anything, from creating super stylish and shareable content about your food, to pioneering a menu or concept that is completely unique. The most successful influencers are genuinely passionate about whatever they are interested in and will want to work with brands displaying the same commitment and curiosity. It’s far better to attract influencers because you have something awesome to offer them rather than perks or cash to be their only motivation.
Nurture the relationship. If an influencer has started to follow your brand then it is important to nurture that relationship. Take an interest in their posts, like and share, and support their online presence where you can. Invest in freebies that offer real value for your key influencers and try to meet them in person as often as possible. You may even find that what was originally an influencer-brand relationships evolves into mutually supportive ongoing friendship.