3 Tips for Restaurants to Create Successful Partnerships with Foodie Influencers

By Hannah Schuller
March 15, 2022

Where we eat and what we eat there is influenced by what we see others share on social media. According to a survey by Upserve, 86 percent of millennials will try a new restaurant after seeing its food-related content online. Consumers are much more likely to visit a restaurant if people they know and trust have visited and enjoyed their experience. However, if potential customers see something negative or nothing at all about a restaurant, they are much less likely to visit. Trust is critical, and, increasingly, social media influencers play an important role in earning that trust – and keeping it.

Influencers are a main source of restaurant and hospitality-related content. When individuals grow an online following, especially solely focusing on restaurants and food reviews, they become seen and respected as an expert in the food community. The more followers and engagement influencers have, the greater their reach and the more trust they earn from their audience.

Influencers share honest photos and opinions, which boosts their credibility, so, when working with them on behalf of a restaurant, it’s important to ensure a top-notch experience to ensure that positive buzz is created around the business. Here are three tips to create a successful partnership with a foodie influencer.

1. Check out their existing interests

Before working with a local influencer, check out their recent posts – did they recently go to a local restaurant and share meaningful experiences? Does their social outreach focus on a certain type of cuisine, and are you looking for a way to promote that type of food or drink around a national day or observance? For example, I noticed that influencer Dinner Plans with Han often posts about getting margaritas with friends, so, when we were looking for someone to work with our restaurant client El Vaquero to promote National Margarita Day, she was a seamless fit. Aligning the influencer’s existing interests with the restaurant’s brand will help ensure the relationship is a good fit and that the influencer will be a strong, honest partner.

2. Cultivate your aesthetic to be Instagram-worthy

Influencers place a high priority on aesthetics – if the dish is plated creatively and nicely, it’s more likely to be photographed and shared online. Both taste and presentation play a strong role in reputation management on social media. As you invite influencers to engage with restaurants, make sure that you’re providing them with Instagrammable dishes, drinks and experiences that they are excited to share. Our partner Cbus Food Fanatics recently visited The Pearl in Columbus, Ohio and shared a great post highlighting their cinnamon rolls, which are slathered in so much icing that it immediately sparks conversation and engagement.

Promote menu items with unique features and make sure to give influencers the table with the best lighting, like we did with Eating in the 614 at Del Mar – it’ll make their jobs easier and the content they share even more beautiful!

3. Loop the restaurant teams into the experience

A restaurant’s marketing and leadership team should be looped in on planning for an influencer’s visit, but it’s also crucial to inform managers and chefs. This gives them the opportunity to provide the best experience by adding table touches throughout the meal, ensuring that payment is completed smoothly and providing exceptional hospitality. In addition, it’s important to check in with the restaurant team after the visit to get their perspective on the influencer’s visit – it helps the team feel heard and supported throughout the process and provides helpful feedback on if the influencer was a good fit for the brand, and it may impact how future influencer visits are handled and coordinated.

With many restaurants still working through labor and food shortages, it’s more important than ever to highlight positive opportunities to drive business, and working with influencers is a great way to do so. Many influencers are passionate about supporting small, local businesses and encouraging their followers to do so, like our trusted partner The Beard and the Baker did when she visited our client Destination Delaware County. As we move into spring, now is a great time to build mutually beneficial influencer relationships and promote your restaurant.

For more examples of how Inspire has worked with clients to form strong relationships with bloggers and influencers, visit our portfolio.