How to Start Influencer Marketing for Your Restaurant

Influencer Marketing levelup digital ordering customer engagement restaurant loyalty CRM

Over the years, online advertising has become more and more native to the internet. Pop-ups were just like any other browser window. Display ads were just like any other piece of content on a website. Native ads were just like any other post on social media. The next natural progression of advertising is incorporating the ad into existing user’s posts. This is influencer marketing. You’ve probably seen the buzz around influencers: but should they be included in your restaurant’s marketing strategy?

On Instagram alone, it is estimated that advertisers spend over $1 billion per year. By March 2019, they expect this yearly spend to grow to nearly $2.4 billion. Why are companies spending so much? Well, people spent nearly 2 hours every day on social media in 2016. Your customers are all on social media daily, and running Facebook ads might not be enough to reach them. Influencer marketing gives you direct access to customers in the form of authentic recommendations. If that sounds like something your brand would be into (which it should) here are some tips on how to get started: 

Set Goals

First, consider your goals for this marketing strategy. Once you’ve determined what your goals are, you should estabilsh KPIs based on those goals. Some great examples of goals are:

  • Grow awareness around a new store location
  • Increase general brand recognition and order volume for your restaurants
  • Spread the word about an upcoming Spring promotion
  • Offer a unique reward only available to the influencer’s followers

Research different types of campaigns to decide what exactly could be successful for your brand.

Decide Who to Target

There are so many food-based social media accounts, with new ones popping up daily. Ask around the office to see if anyone has a favorite account that they follow. Research popular accounts that fit into your restaurant’s food category. Another great way to find potential influencers is by finding fans of your brand on social media and then research to see if they are following any popular social media accounts. The accounts your fans are following typically contain your target demographic. 

Consider your audience when looking for relevant accounts. During initial conversations with influencers, be sure to ask for information about their audience’s demographics. This is a quick and easy way to confirm that your restaurant is relevant to their followers. After all, they won’t accept a deal that doesn’t fit with their profile and followers interests! Pro tip: Target influencers who have already worked with restaurants similar to yours.

I’ve found some possible accounts, now what?

Check the bio on their profile. Seeing a contact email is typically a sign that they are open to doing sponsored posts. When reaching out, be authentic in your request. The more details you can provide about the collaboration, the more likely you will see a response. Feel free to ask about promotions they’ve run in the past. They may have data on the success of campaigns similar to what you’d like to run.

Important note for reaching out: these people are not all millionaires with millions of followers. For many, their Instagram account is simply a secondary source of income. When emailing them, realize this probably isn’t going to a talent manager.  Mention a recent post of theirs that you really liked!

How much will it cost?

Unfortunately, pricing is not yet transparent in the influencer space. You can simply ask them for their standard price per post. Most of the time, the influencer will name their price. From there, it is a traditional negotiation. If they’ve gone back and forth with you thus far, it is obvious that they want to work with you. Now you just need to work out an agreement that satisfies both of your goals. Get creative, maybe they’re willing to promote your restaurant in exchange for free burritos!

Final Steps

Once you’ve agreed on a price, you can write up terms for the collaboration. This could include the specific dates and times for the engagement, as well as other small details that may often be overlooked, like the duration a URL should be in their bio, the rights to use the photo after it is posted, the use of #ad or #sponsored in the caption, or specifying that a post cannot be deleted. It’s best to include every small detail you can think of that may be relevant to your campaign. Be sure to mention that a post should not go live prior to your final approval so that your team can confirm the image and copy.

Remember to have fun with it and good luck!

We know a thing or two about influencers, but our real magic is in building apps. Download our guide on how to pick an app provider for your brand:


Tyler Farley

Tyler Farley

Tyler Farley works in growth marketing for LevelUp. He helps to acquire and engage users using many different digital strategies. He is disciplined and sticks to a tight schedule: Mondays you’ll see him at VERTS Mediterranean Grill, Wednesdays at Dig Inn, and Fridays at Sweetgreen. When not discovering new LevelUp merchants, Tyler is trying to learn how to skateboard.

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