January 29, 2019 |
Many tout Instagram as being a game-changer for restaurants. Indeed, people posting delicious photos of a chef’s food online and geotagging it for everyone to see is advertising from the public that doesn’t cost a thing. But how about when restaurant owners dive deeper, and approach influencers to boost their visibility, either on Instagram or established food blogs? Just how much of an impact can it have, and will it translate into increased profits?
Established bloggers and influencers have already shown their ability to be canny marketers in the way they’ve managed to promote themselves among an ocean of people trying to do the same thing. While their primary focus is to market themselves, restaurants can still benefit from their exposure.
It’s difficult to work out what the return on investment is with exposure from bloggers or influencers, because there are so many variables involved: how many followers they have, if the restaurant has picked the right influencer for their market, if their demographic of followers matches the customers most suited to the business. But it’s obvious that increased, positive exposure on larger scale will have a positive effect, and in addition, any customers gained from Instagram influencers will be more likely to snap the food themselves and upload it on their own accounts, so there’s the potential for a snowball effect.
For some of the smaller influencers, those with under 25,000 followers on Instagram, restaurants likely have to dangle some form of an incentive such as a free meal. Are these influencers just a bunch of people looking for a free lunch? Potentially, but if it gets more exposure quickly, who cares? The bigger influencers are a harder thing to quantify. Those with followers in their hundreds of thousands will likely want monetary compensation. Owners may might balk at the prices, but building up a large Instagram following takes many months or years of dedicated time and effort. They’ve put the work in to get to where they are, but whether it’s worth it depends on their reach in the restaurant’s particular field. If the influencer is based in New York but visiting London for a week where your restaurant is located, it seems a stretch to pay high sums when most of their followers will be across the pond.
Restaurants looking at Instagram influencers also need to make sure their own Instagram game is strong. If they’re tagging you in a photo, but your own page just has a screenshot of Google Maps showing your location, it’s unlikely to instill confidence in people visiting your profile. Surveys have shown that 30% of those online would avoid eating at a place if its Instagram page was weak. However, a strong page full of appetizing photos will likely lead to increased followers and engagement over time.
When it comes to food blogs, it’s harder to get a feel for how much of an immediate impact they’re having when you don’t see a barrage of double-tap likes piling up, but they have other advantages: being able to go into more detail about meals, and providing valuable backlinks for websites which will rank them higher on Google searches.
With established magazine and newspaper journalists much harder to reach out to for a review, with a very small number available, securing the help of online influencers and bloggers is a valuable tool at a restaurant’s disposal. Especially since journalists are often more likely to give harsher reviews, often coming from jaded old critics who’ve been in the business for decades and are ridiculously hard to please. Online influencers are more likely young, hip, fresh and with a positive outlook on life. It’s why people follow them, and it’s why they’re likely to help businesses.