There are several goals that a food, beverage or hospitality brand can achieve with influencer marketing. Influencer marketing in a bubble, done by itself will yield some likes, comments, follows and some awareness, but it’s intensely more powerful when its a part of a large plan and tied to other goals and efforts.

Influencer marketing is a way to gain awareness and credibility through the endorsement and recommendations of outspoken market leaders who have curated their own audience. Those audiences trust the influencer to advocate for products and services that align with their needs and lifestyle.

Said another way, influencer marketing is advertising at the word-of-mouth level.

The best use of influencer marketing is to gain audience with a desirable audience. Whether you are launching a new product, service, menu, a limited time offer or have a larger branding campaign, influencer marketing adds the ability to reach a highly targeted focus segment of customers.  

Many people think of influencer marketing as a great way to drive awareness, because it is. Often times influencers can be the first person to introduce a product or service to their followers. Typically however, a customer journey has many touch points. A consumer might see your television ad and think “mmm that looks good. I want to eat it,” and then go back about their day.

The next day they could see the post from an influencer, and it could be just that kick they needed to grab lunch from your restaurant. Suddenly that influencer is now driving decisions and actions in the same way a coupon emailed to your list might, or handing someone a sample bite as they walk by your kiosk.

Influencer marketing works at all levels of the customer funnel. That’s why it's important to have a campaign goal and understand where influencer marketing fits in your marketing stack.

Lights, camera, action … budget. Hiring photographers, script writers, a studio, graphic designers and other creatives needed for a photo shoot, TV commercial or social content is expensive, takes a lot of time and demands a lot of creative direction. Once you’ve created that amazing content, it still needs to be activated and promoted. It’s a lot of work.

Influencer marketing helps you to generate quality content that comes with awareness built in. Once you have provided direction, the influencer handles the content creation and shares it with their followers.

Here are some examples where influencer marketing could be an effective strategy.

LIMITED TIME OFFERS / NEW MENUS

Hospitality businesses rely on regular timed releases of new menu items, old favorites and collaborations to attract new and returning customers. These items boost excitement and can even get consumers to add it to their regular offer, thereby increasing average ticket size. They can also help attract a new audiences to a restaurant normally out of a consumer’s consideration. This is a great time to work with influencers to promote your specialty items and new or seasonal menus.

Example: Red Lobster

STORE OPENINGS

You’ve spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions on building out a new store, staffing up, testing the kitchen and making sure everything is operationally ready. The PR company is working to get some key placements, you’ve readied some Facebook ads and are posting to social.  You can invite influencers to a special tasting or press preview ahead of opening or during soft launch and have them share content with their followers to get people to know about a store now open near them.

Example: Charleys Philly Steaks


EVENTS / SPECIAL PROMOTIONS

Many brands rely on holidays, events and special promotions to drive repeat trips and and incremental revenue. Whether it’s new packaging, participating in a large event or tasting or promoting a new green initiative, influencers can help you augment your promotion through calls to action and creative content.

Example: Schweid & Sons

LOYALTY PROGRAMS / APPS

Driving adoption for loyalty programs and new apps starts with awareness. You should email your current customers and let them know but how do you attract new customers to the features offered? That’s where influencer marketing can get people interested in becoming a stickier customer.

Example: Potbelly

RECIPE CREATION

Brands can also rely on influencers to create content around their brand by developing unique recipes. Working with influencers to create easy, simply recipes that their followers can re-create, as well as giving away special codes for them to use for their followers can redeem, will ultimately increase awareness and sales of your product. You can take this route for a new product launch, new packaging, or just because your product needs an extra push in the market.

Example: Jana Foods and FAGE

PROMOTE TOURISM

Not only do people plan where they are going to eat on vacation, with the rise of food TV and influencer marketing, people are now planning their vacations and off-time because of food. Tourism boards and organizations have realized this and are starting to use influencers to help influence people to visit.

Example: German National Tourism


Rev Ciancio is a Senior Marketing, Branding and Digital Strategist with 20 years of experience, specializing in hospitality marketing, content and local SEO. He has led many clients to new levels of local, national and international success in the hospitality, financial service and entertainment sectors.

He is also former agency owner as well as a former New York City bar owner. Rev is an “expert burger taster” and pens hospitality and marketing tips on his Instagram @revciancio as well as his LinkedIn Profile.