You know that your restaurant is unique, but what does everyone else think? And… who’s talking about it? Do you know?
Imagine this: one day you wake up to the constant buzz of social media notifications on your phone. You open your eyes just enough to see that your Facebook page has climbed from 500 to 1,000 likes! “How could this be!?” you ask. “How did all these people find me?”
You may not be surprised that word-of-mouth is still an excellent way to grow your customer base, but it may surprise you how many people are willing to try your restaurant based on a stranger’s recommendation. The trick is, that stranger has to have a public platform with hundreds, or even thousands, of fans.
Food Blogs and Food Bloggers – Who Needs Em?
A food blogger is a person who specializes in writing blogs about food (just like we’re experts at writing blogs on restaurant marketing). They combine a love of food, an interest in cooking, and some great photos or videos to create a sought-after experience. Other people want to go to the restaurants that food bloggers visit and review kindly. So, to answer our question… YOU need them as a restaurant owner.
But, who’s reading blogs, you ask? More than ¾ of internet users! Restaurant reviewers or food bloggers influence people's buying and eating choices. There are different types of food bloggers. Here are some of them.
- Local food bloggers: these food bloggers write about local places, trendy spots, new menu items. Eater Denver is an example of a local food blog serving the Denver area of Colorado.
- Restaurant reviewers: These peeps head out into restaurants and then write their reviews, blog-style. It’s not too different from the reviews from the newspaper from back in the day (and some may still be writing for the local news, but posting it online). They’ll write about their entire experience, not just the food, including service, price, and atmosphere. A good example of this kind of food blog is A Girl has to Eat.
- Super Niche Blogs: this type of food blogger goes in waist deep on a particular type of food, food style, allergen, etc. A blogger may specialize in posts on gluten-free or vegan restaurants. Sous Vide Life is a great example of a super niche blog. Niche bloggers often have a fanatic following. If you have something that would fit well with one of the niche bloggers, be sure to tell them.
In fact, make yourself known to all the writers of blogs that are a fit with your restaurant. Start by searching Google for restaurant blogs in your city. After reading a couple of posts, you’ll be able to decide whether or not you think their site would attract potential customers. For example, if you own a burger joint run out of an Airstream travel trailer, a “Food, Wine, and Lifestyle Blog” might not attract the type of readers that would be interested in what you have to offer. Once you find a good fit, invite them to your restaurant for a tasty meal and writing inspiration.
Social Media Influencers – Who Are These People?
An influencer is a person who can change the way people behave because they have a following of people who have similar likes and dislikes. Influencer marketing for a restaurant is a great way to attract and engage customers. Do you know who the people are in your area who are foodies and influencers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or SnapChat?
Influencers share photos and posts about their dining experience at a restaurant. When an influencer says good things about your restaurant, his/her followers believe it, and of course, there is also the fear of missing out (FOMO) that followers don’t want to have. Get noticed by the right influencers, and your customer base will grow.
Sometimes, the best local influencers are other restaurant owners. I’m positive there’s someone in your town who has a mass following of customers. Yeah...you know the one. You may even think, “Why do people like this guy so much!?” Whatever the reason, they’re doing something right, and their influence and opinion can be a benefit to your restaurant. Getting an endorsement from the most respected restaurant owner in town could send hundreds of foodies flying your way.
Hey, we all get by with a little help from our friends.
Take for example this Proud Pie menu feature. Proud Pie is (you guessed it) a pie shop, and they also sell breakfast and lunch sandwiches. The owner of Proud Pie is deeply respected in the local food community. So when he creates a sandwich featuring the brisket from Daddy Duncan’s BBQ, you can bet people are going to take that as a recommendation of Daddy Duncan’s quality menu.
Does Influencer Marketing and Food Blogging Really Help Grow Business?
Many restaurants are reluctant to engage with food bloggers and influencers because they think it doesn't work. Or they fear that the influencer won’t say good things.
The truth is that food bloggers are not after free food. And in some cases, you may not even know they’re at your place when they’re dining. Here are a few of the benefits you can gain from being a part of this new marketing movement.
1. Instant exposure
Restaurant food bloggers and local influencers have fans. More than you might have. This is a good way to get in front of more people on social media, where people literally spend hours per day shopping, planning, reviewing, and commenting. Use their social power to your advantage.
2. Improve brand image and awareness
Even if you’re not in a big city, you can gain local fame after a food blogger or influencer mentions you, visits, or reviews your restaurant. A recommendation from a social media influencer can have a significant effect by increasing the number of people who follow your social media accounts or even just showing followers that you’re active in your community.
3. Get some feedback
You don't have to listen to your auntie who always complains that your soup is too salty. Instead, you can get honest and credible feedback from a restaurant blogger. Some food bloggers have years of experience in the food industry. They can give honest feedback on your restaurant ranging from the food quality to ambiance and service, which provides you with an opportunity to make your fantastic restaurant even better.
4. Increase sales
Show some love to the new customers coming in because they saw you on someone’s post. Play it up in the restaurant. Maybe even have a food special for those who saw you online and want to “have what she’s having.” A great example of this would be to name a dish after the influencer. The influencer will be super flattered and probably share this (again) on their social channels.
If you would like to know more about digital marketing trends and best practices, contact the experts at IndoorMedia.
Finding the best ways to advertise in your local area is key to driving new customers through the door every single day. Learn more about some of the top restaurant marketing tactics and how to apply them to your restaurant.