Restaurant owners in South Florida have a few things going for them. There’s a diverse mix of cultures with different cuisines, warm temperatures’ year-round, and multiple “hubs” (i.e. Wynwood). Despite all this, restaurants in Miami all have one thing that can always be getting better: exposure. Even if you have the best food, a perfect location, and the coolest decorations in the world, none of that matters unless you can get hungry customers through your doors. In 2019 and beyond, your number one bet is to work with food influencers but let’s peek at the other options first.
Google, Facebook, and Everything Else
Restaurants have been around since the beginning of recorded history and have succeeded in a variety of ways. If we focus on just the last 100 years, however, printed advertisements hailed supreme in reaching customers. The suburbs have long stayed connected with newspaper and magazine subscriptions that contained ads littered throughout. Banners and signs promoting events like a grand opening have been a staple. Of course, no one can forget about those direct mail coupons for local restaurants – because we all still get those. Print ads are still around but it’s 2019 and businesses must adapt to the digital world we live in.
What exactly does adapting to the world of digital marketing mean for a restaurant? A quick Google search will say that your best bet for digital marketing lies in using Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. As a business owner, it makes sense to see these two tech giant’s names and believe that they are your best bet. They both have systems that you can easily get started with, and they reach billions of people. Who are you trying to reach though?
If you are one of the 185,000 single location restaurants in the United States, you want to reach the people closest to you. There is geo-targeting with both Google and Facebook but seeing an ad while scrolling through social media or search can be bothersome. I’ve spoken with many small business owners that have spent thousands on these ads with little if any effect. Local restaurants need a way to reach hungry residents in their area without getting lost in the noise of other ads. Luckily, there’s a secret weapon for this.
The Power of Food Influencers
Food influencers, known as foodies, have been around for a while (read about The Miami Menu and their journey). Most started their accounts years ago when Instagram was blowing up as the next thing to be on for hours each day. These foodies combined their talents of appetizing photography and social media marketing to attract thousands of followers. Some innovative restaurants realized early on that they could partner with these foodies to reach thousands of people through social media. You would see pictures of extreme foods like a Krispy Kreme donut-burger or an extravagant serving from Barton G.. The price for a promotion like this in the early days of influencers was a free meal.
Today, the influencer marketing industry has grown up and become more structured in terms of how things work. We have a food-obsessed economy and there are now foodies in most cities that help guide their community on where to eat. Yes, most people will Google “food near me” to get a quick list of viable options. For the true food fanatics though, they have a trusted list of food accounts on Instagram to refer to. There are no filters on cuisine or ways to sort by price. Every restaurant has a chance for consumers to eat with their eyes and choose their venue for their next meal. Don’t take my word for it – studies show that 74% of people said word-of-mouth influenced a purchase.
Foodies Are More Than Views
Reaching thousands of people is awesome but influencers, especially food-focused influencers, shine with the content that they create and share.
A foodie with a bunch of followers had to have done something right and that includes portraying food in the most appetizing way. Some have professional cameras and others use their iPhones. All of them create a perfect blend of the right angle, the right lighting, and the right dish. Some restaurants pay more for a photographer than they would for an influencer. Foodies help to offload the burden of stress that busy restaurant owners all have.
Once an influencer creates the content for you, it’s yours. Feel free to use those images or videos how you’d like. You can put them on flyers, menus, or your website. One of the best uses is to repost the content on your own social media. Influencers gained their followers using high-performing content meaning you could see a similar effect using that content on your profile. It’s possible to gain 100s of followers from a single influencer post.
Comparing Tech Giants & Local Foodies
Let’s look at the numbers to start. Facebook has a metric called CPM (cost per thousand views) and the average cost is $11.20 or $0.0112/view. Influencers’ prices vary but you could pay someone with 50,000 followers between $200-$300 for a post (depending on your needs). Doing some math, you’d be paying half the price of Facebook for the same number of people to see the post about your business. If your restaurant is really unique, the post might even go viral and get you millions of views for the same price.
Plus don’t forget the time and cost savings from having one person handle the marketing work. Your personalized food influencer takes the pictures, writes their caption, and shares with their audience. If you did this yourself, you would have to hire a photographer, read articles on “How To Use Facebook Ads”, and then spend money on a campaign that might not work. An influencer saves you hours and money that could be better spent on creating a great atmosphere for the customers they bring you.
Foodies have a more targeted audience as well. This one is up for debate but here are the facts:
- Facebook determines location targets based off a location that might be from years ago
- Facebook determines interest in something like “Food” based off a person’s likes which could include liking “Mayonaisse” when they were in high school
- People following food influencers are 100% interested in food (which is why they follow them)
- Someone following a New York food-focused Instagram is usually either a resident or someone that will be visiting
It’s up for you to determine but I give this win to the foodies.
How Do I Work With Influencers?
Ok, so you’ve read everything so far and you’re probably wondering: how can I get started? Influencers have blown up in popularity so there are plenty of options these days for how to work with them.
It takes a lot of work to get through but manually seeking and collaborating with influencers is possible. To start, you need to search for something specific like “Miami food” in the Instagram search bar. You should get a few results with some food-related names. You’ll know you found a local because influencers almost always put their location in their biography. After looking at their content quality and confirming the location, you should look at the “engagement rate”. This is the number of likes and comments on a post divided by the number of followers. According to this post, a solid engagement rate is 3%+.
If everything checks out, you can send the influencer an email. You should ask for something simple to start, like an Instagram post and ask for a quote. Do this for at least 10 food influencers. Their inboxes are usually swamped with people doing this so the answer rate is usually around 15% (from personal experience). Once you get a quote that matches, you have to schedule a time for the foodie to come in. You provide the food to eat and photograph while they take pictures. A short time later, you should expect your post to go up on their feed and reach their audience.
Paying for software can be worth it to save hours when trying to work with foodies. There are a bunch of tools to choose from, so we recommend going to influencermarketinghub.com to see for yourself which one might work. Some of the tools you’ll find include:
- Influencer Search
- Campaign Management
Unfortunately, most of this software is hundreds of dollars per month which is out of a small business’s price range. Targetting local influencers is not a focus for this software either. They are geared more towards big brands with big budgets that are sending products to big influencers. Unless if your restaurant is a national chain, chances are that this is overkill for you.
A Simple & Affordable Method
Dananza is a brand new marketplace designed specifically for local businesses to work with foodies. Any businesses can join for FREE and start a campaign in just 60 seconds. With tons of top influencers already on our site, we save you a ton of time you would have spent searching Instagram and emailing. These influencers will apply with a rate and what type of post they can create for you. Hire whoever matches your needs with the click of a button and they only get paid when they post about your business.
Our overall goal was to make influencer marketing simpler and more affordable. Try out dananza.com today and let us know if we did our job. Remember: it’s free so there is nothing to lose by trying it out but plenty of customers to lose out on if you don’t.