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The Role of Influencers in Shaping Restaurant Reputations | Superorder

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March 26, 2024

Navigating the Impact of Social Media Influencers in the Restaurant Industry

Marketing in the restaurant industry is much different today than in the past. While traditional advertisements are still an effective part of a good marketing strategy, those old-school tactics are starting to take a back seat to influencer marketing!

Finance Influencers hold more power than most realize. They connect with audiences much deeper than businesses could ever dream of. Therefore, followers listen to their recommendations and reviews. Taking full advantage of that is a great way to earn more business for your restaurant.

In this guide, you'll learn the ins and outs of influencer marketing in the restaurant industry and how to leverage it for greater success.

The Growing Impact of Influencers on Consumer Choices

Social media stars are called “influencers” for a reason! They use the power of psychological influence to impact consumer decisions, and their sway is stronger than most realize.

It wasn't that long ago that being an influencer was a foreign concept. Two decades ago, social media was nothing more than a place to connect. But as more people joined platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more, humble content creators became huge stars in their own right!

The influence of social media is huge, for better or worse. However, you can't deny that influencers greatly impact consumers and their choices. One recent survey suggests that almost half of consumers depend on influencers for product and service recommendations. Another 69 percent said they trust influencers, while another 40 percent said they've purchased products after seeing an influencer cover them on social media platforms.

Those are surprising figures, but they show that influence in the digital world translates to real-world success for businesses in and out of the food industry. Working with an influencer can increase brand awareness, foot traffic and revenue.

Influencer marketing is nothing new, but it's becoming more prevalent. An online survey of marketing executives and leaders found that companies tend to increase their spending on influencer marketing. Meanwhile, about 15 percent of respondents said they spend over half a million dollars a year to work with influencers.

That shows you just how much clout influencers have in the marketing world. Whether you work with lifestyle bloggers or true food influencers, there's much to gain from these partnerships.

The Power of Social Media on Consumer Choices

Social media is a powerful thing that changes how humans connect. Before social media, consumers had to rely on traditional advertisements to learn about restaurants and products. But that's all different now, and the last decade showed us that social media platforms are valuable in marketing.

Working with influencers goes beyond standard digital marketing because you're paying for something no social media platform can provide: Access. It's one thing to invest in pay-per-click ads on Instagram or Facebook. But it's another ballgame when you work with influencers with a built-in audience base.

What makes social media so powerful in marketing is that it gives people a chance to connect on a deeper, personal level. People follow the lives of their favorite influencers. Their dedication to social stars transcends single platforms, giving many influencers a strong presence on all platforms. That's something money can't buy!

Followers trust influencers in more ways than standard celebrities. The easy access to influencers through social platforms makes it feel like you're following a friend rather than an inaccessible movie or pop star. It allows people to resonate with the things influencers say or do.

So when an influencer recommends a restaurant, followers take it to heart! It feels more like a friend's recommendation than a paid advertisement.

In the digital world, we encounter ads from all directions. Web users are so used to seeing ads that they often learn to block them out entirely. That's why old-school pay-per-click ads and banner campaigns are becoming less and less effective.

To truly reach people, you need to find ways to get your message across without the conventions of modern advertising. Influencer marketing can do just that, letting you tap into a brand-new audience of potential customers who trust what their favorite influencers have to say. The significant influence social media stars have can make a huge difference and uncover a smoother path to success.

Reach and Engagement Metrics

So, how do you track the success of a marketing campaign that involves an influencer? Better yet, how do you choose which influencers to partner with? We'll discuss selecting an influencer in more detail later. In the meantime, let's talk metrics.

There are many ways to measure a campaign's success. However, two of the most important metrics are reach, impression and engagement.

Reach refers to the number of people who saw a particular partnered post. Meanwhile, impressions reflect how many times people viewed the content. Since followers can view content multiple times, impressions will also equal or surpass reach.

These metrics are crucial because they give you a better idea of how far your campaign got. After working with an influencer, you can easily compare your standard reach to what it is. In most cases, you'll see significant improvement.

A big reason to work with influencers is to tap into an existing audience that's wider or more unique to your own. The exposure influencers provide for your restaurant can significantly influence brand awareness and boost your bottom line.

Engagement is another metric to follow. Engagement reflects how interested followers are in the content influencers share. There are many ways to measure engagement, but it typically involves the number of likes, shares, comments, etc.

High engagement rates are great before and after working with an influencer. You want influencers who frequently interact with followers. It's one thing for a person to have a large following, but high engagement rates show that the audience is genuine.

After a campaign, high engagement could indicate great interest in your restaurant. It shows that people liked what they saw and that interest could translate into more business.

In addition to reach, impressions and engagement, you can measure success by looking at sales or offer redemptions. For example, one common technique marketers use in influencer marketing is offering followers discounts with special promo codes.

You can do the same by providing a discount code when social media users order food online or in your app. Track how many times people used the code to gauge the success of your marketing efforts and use data analysis to calculate your return on interest (ROI).

How Does it Work?

Influencer marketing has evolved in recent years, and businesses continue to find new ways to leverage the power of social media influence.

Generally, influencer marketing begins by contacting social media users directly. Most seasoned micro-influencers and major Internet stars have management teams that brands can contact. That information is usually available on profile pages.

Once you reach out, you can strike up a deal and get creative. What services are available depends on the influencer and their management. Some have strict limitations on what they can do, and fees will vary.

However, you can usually brainstorm and find ways to forge a mutually beneficial partnership. Here are a few ideas that can have a big impact.

Showcasing Dining Experiences

One of the best ways to invest in influencer marketing is to encourage influencers to document the dining experience. Every restaurant is different, and putting your establishment's ambiance, style and vibes on full display goes a long way.

Invite influencers to dine at your restaurant. During their stay, they can take food photos, record their experience, comment on their interactions with your staff and more.

Based on your influencer marketing budget, these showcases can be simple or complex. Some influencers limit the showcase to a few photos on Instagram. However, others might record full videos to publish on YouTube or make several fun TikToks.

Either way, the exposure can be game-changing! People love to see what a restaurant is like before they visit. Photos on your website and review sites only go so far. Influencers will take things to a new level, providing insight while documenting a true dining experience.

Honest Reviews and Recommendations

Another idea is to encourage influencers to provide honest reviews and recommendations. Ask them for their honest feedback.

Some brands and restaurants try to pay for positive reviews. However, there are many legal and moral implications to that approach. Allow influencers to develop their own opinions and relay them to their audience. You can comp their meal and train your team to deliver a five-star experience, but it's best to allow influencers to make recommendations independently.

Here's where influencer marketing truly shines. If you deliver on all fronts, and the influencer you work with genuinely wants to recommend your restaurant, you can see substantial improvements in business moving forward. The exposure pushes your restaurant into the limelight!

Meanwhile, the honest recommendations from influencers build trust and drum up considerable interest.

Building a Personal Connection with Followers

When you partner with influencers, you have an opportunity to build a personal connection with eager followers. Go beyond a standard review. Many influencers will provide more in-depth coverage of your restaurant to help you connect with audiences.

This approach can lead many of the influencer's followers to become new followers of your brand!

Partner with influencers to cover your restaurant's story. You can create content about your establishment's mission, history, etc. Some restaurants also like to take food influencers into the kitchen for behind-the-scenes insight into your menu, what it's like to work there and more.

The possibilities are endless. Finding ways to connect to an influencer's following on a more personal level can lead to great success, allowing you to grow your following and customer base.

The Many Benefits for Restaurants

Many still view influencer culture as extraneous or toxic. But if you're not taking advantage of influencers' power and pull, you're missing out on many great benefits.

Ultimately, influencer marketing improves your reputation and gives you a competitive edge.

Restaurants live and die by their reputations. Many once-great restaurants are left in the dust because they don't adapt to diners' ever-changing needs. New rivals pop up frequently, and you must stay on your toes to keep all eyes on your eatery.

Influencer marketing is a great way to build exposure for your brand. However, there's only so much you can do independently to grow your following and acquire new customers. Sometimes, you need help getting over a plateau and maximizing exposure.

Influencers bring their audience to the table, exposing you to new people who could eventually become paying customers. Influencer marketing is like supercharged word-of-mouth. Partnerships are like a badge of approval, and a successful campaign's impact can help you achieve long-term success and growth.

How to Choose the Right Influencer

Choosing the right person is the first great challenge of getting your feet wet with influencer marketing. There's no shortage of models available on Instagram. While they may be great for your image, you should look beyond physical attractiveness.

The goal is to find an influencer who can provide real value to your brand while exposing you to a wider audience. Pay attention to an influencer's reach and their core demographic. Compare it to your restaurant's target customer.

The best approach is to work with influencers with an audience of your target customers. For example, suppose you have a hip, trendy restaurant dripping in style and chic aesthetics. In that case, you may benefit from working with influencers who create content for fashion-forward Millennials and Gen Z followers. Even fashion bloggers and beauty gurus could help you tap into your target market.

Conversely, you may benefit more from working with a serious food influencer if top-quality dishes are your main draw. Aim to partner with influencers who will bring you to the audience you want to attract!

Of course, don't forget to look at a potential partner's reach. But a large follower count shouldn't be the only thing you prioritize. Micro-influencers with a smaller following can have just as much value as someone with millions of followers. What matters most is how their audience aligns with your desired customer base.

Navigating Negative Reviews

Influencer marketing is largely a successful endeavor. However, not every review you get will work in your favor. Influencers can leave painfully honest reviews that don't shed your business in the best light. Some will visit unannounced restaurants and provide feedback without you reaching out for a partnership!

It happens, and those moments have the potential to harm your business. But they don't have to. What's important is how you respond to negative reviews.

Don't ignore them. Instead, respond to them. Empathize with influencer customers and acknowledge their concerns. Then, use what you learned to improve your business.

Recognizing complaints and empathizing with bad reviews goes a long way. It shows that you're a restaurant that cares and wants to improve.

Strategies and Best Practices

Partnering with influencers can be a fun but overwhelming experience. There's no rule book, and you can get creative with how you work with people.

However, there are many strategies and best practices to follow.

The first is to do your due diligence. View an influencer's content and see how it aligns with your brand image. Then, research the influencer's past to ensure their history doesn't reflect badly on your restaurant.

Spend time choosing the right influencers and go beyond the usual suspects. While top-tier influencers can have significant influence, smaller influencers do, too. What matters most is how engaged their audience is and how relevant their content is to the image you want to portray.

Finally, personalize your messages to influencers and work with them to develop a strategy that works for all parties. Restaurant partnerships don't just benefit you. While you gain more exposure, influencers also get new, inspiring ideas for content creation.

Don't be afraid to bounce ideas. Have a clear goal, but be flexible enough to ensure the results of your work together have the impact you want.

How to Leverage User-Generated Content

Remember to sort out the details of the content generated by your partnership! Restaurants have much to gain from leveraging user-generated content, and your collaboration with influencers can have great potential.

Discuss content ownership and rights. Consider expressing your desire to use their content on your own social media profiles and website. You can even work things out to use their food photos, videos, reviews and more in your restaurant's marketing content.

User-generated content that comes from influencers is powerful and can do a lot to boost your online image.

Get Started With Superorder Today

There's no better time than now to jump on the influencer bandwagon! Marketing in the restaurant industry can be challenging, but the pull of influencers gives you access to a huge audience of potential customers. Reach out to influencers that align with your brand and collaborate to create magic!

Superorder can help you push things even further. Superorder is a software platform built for modern restaurants. Do away with the siloed systems and use an all-in-one platform like Superorder to manage every facet of your business. From dispute management to finances and feedback, Superorder can handle it all to help your restaurant grow. Check it out today to learn more!

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