Influencer Marketing for Restaurants: The Ultimate Guide

Saturday, 1st May 2021

4 min read

Woman sitting in a quiet cafe while using a silver laptop computer

Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle

Influencer marketing is a powerful way for restaurant owners to connect with customers and grow their business. But, it can be difficult to know where to start. In this guide we’ll help you understand what influencers are and how they work, as well as share some tips on finding the right ones for your campaign. From there we’ll give you all of the information you need in order to get started with influencer marketing!

So let’s get into it. Specifically:

  • What is an influencer?
  • Why are they so effective?
  • How do I find the right influencers?
  • How do I approach an influencer?
  • How do I get started with influencer marketing? ‍

What is an influencer?

Influencers are people who have a following. Whether they’re starting their own blog or social media account, they’ve built up trust with the audience and are able to promote products and services on behalf of brands. Whereas traditional ads rely on celebrity endorsements and big budgets, influencers can give you access to a very targeted audience with a level of authenticity you’ll struggle to find elsewhere. Never mind for such little money, or of course food, often the currency of restaurant influencers. ‍

Why are influencers so effective?

People trust influencers. It’s that simple, really! People are much more likely to watch a video from someone they follow on social media than any other form of advertising. And that’s exactly the same with restaurant recommendations. If you want to find a new restaurant to go to, what do you do? You ask someone! And recently that process has shifted online with more and more people relying on social media for top tips from the people in the know - the influencers. ‍

How do I find the right influencers?

There are a couple things you need to think about before you start looking for influencers. What’s the goal of your campaign? Are you a fine dining restaurant looking to increase reservations? Or are you a street food vendor looking to get the word out about your filthy (in a good way!) burgers? Finding the right influencer means finding an influencers who’s previous posts and audience are completely aligned with your brand and ideal customer profile. It’s so so important to get this right, so how do you do it?

So let’s go back to that street food vendor. If they’re looking to increase awareness, their first step would be thinking about the type of content that resonates with your audience. Then find someone who has an engaged following in that space.

Search for hashtags aligned with your offering. Find posts you like the look and style of the imagery/videos. And find posts with high engagement, meaning lots of likes & comments, so if you were to work together, your content would reach as many people as possible. ‍

How do I approach an influencer?

Don’t over think it! Hopefully at this stage you’ve found a bunch of influencers that match your style and audience. Now it’s time to reach out.

Best practice is to send a personalised email/message stating your business and offering (influencers will typically have an email in their social media bio for collaboration opportunities). Include what you are looking for from the influencer (guest posts, content, mentions etc). You’ll also want to mention any relevant offers or discounts that might encourage them like free meals for them and/or a discount for their followers.

It’s important to be super clear what you expect of them and what you are offering in return. Miss-communication here can cause some real problems down the line. ‍

For example you might think about:

  • What food do you want them eating?
  • What about drinks? If anything?
  • Who will they meet during their visit and who will introduce them at the restaurant?
  • Will you cover their entire bill? Or a certain spend limit? Or pay them?
  • How many posts/stories would you like them to do?
  • How long should that content remain live on their account?
  • Will they share views/engagement metrics with you?

Don’t be afraid to chase them if they don’t get back to you within a week or so. And be prepared with alternative influencers who might work better if your first choice doesn’t work out. But don’t worry, and remember: if you’ve reached out to the right influencer for your brand, they should be delighted to work with you. As it’s exactly the sort of content their followers want to see! ‍

How do I arrange an influencer visit?

Now you’ve hopefully agreed the details with an influencer, it’s time to arrange the visit. You’ll want to give them a few days/times that are typically quieter sittings at your restaurant. This means your staff can make sure to give the influencer an experience and food you’d want to be shared online. It also means an influencer isn’t taking up valuable space in your restaurant preventing full paying customers getting served.

The visit itself should be fairly straightforward if you’ve agreed the details in advance. Problems with site visits are typically around communication with your staff so make sure they know who’s coming and exactly what to expect. ‍

How do I track the impact of an influencer?

You should have set a goal for this campaign already so that will be your high level measure of success. You’ll also be able to see the impact on your social media channels and in your analytics. Hopefully you agree with the influencer that they’ll tag your restaurant in any posts. Then you can easily track new follows and engagement on your own profile and website.

If you haven’t already set up your instagram account to be a business account, right now is the perfect time to do it.

Tracking is so important for measuring success and if the influencer has agreed to share their metrics with you then you’re going to learn even more. Whether it’s understanding what offer is most successful, what dish performs best, the best time of day to posts etc. It’s all valuable information you can take back to your own social channels to drive growth.

But be patient with the results. It’s all about building a community and getting to know your audience. You don’t need 100k followers for a good campaign, instead focus on building relationships with a brand new audience and eventually they will turn into customers. ‍


So there we have it - everything you need to get started with influencer marketing at your restaurant.

It’s no secret that influencers can have a huge impact on accelerating your restaurant’s success. However, it can be difficult to know where or how to start and how to make sure you’re not wasting time and resource. And if those steps are sounding a little daunting, we’re here to help.

Nibble makes finding, booking and tracking restaurant influencers incredibly simple. So what are you waiting for, sign up for early access below👇

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