Read any online marketing manual and there will definitely be at least one paragraph dedicated to marketing through micro influencers. First things first, social media influencers are basically bloggers who have a certain fan following and cover topics of their interest. In the restaurant industry, Food Bloggers are the most relevant social media influencers and in this article, we will discuss the best practices of engaging with them.
Why You Should Consider Engaging with Food Bloggers As a Viable Restaurant Marketing Strategy
Many people argue that social media influencers do not have enough reach or brand pull value so there is no use in engaging with them. This belief is a myth! Micro influencers actually have a very good brand value. This is because your audience actually spends time or enjoy their pieces, is loyal to them and trusts the blogger more than it would trust your local celebrity. Food bloggers are seen as experts on the issue of restaurants and their verdict can be taken as a guarantee of great experience and even better food. Because of their presence on social media, they can even increase your website reach and ensure that people at least know who you are.
To top it all up micro influencers such as food bloggers are far cheaper and more approachable than celebrities even if a minor one. Instead of spending a huge amount of money on a single campaign, you can engage with 3-4 different bloggers, cover a wider audience base and maintain a relationship with them so they will keep covering and posting about different events and updates in your restaurant. Most bloggers also do not simply write about your restaurant like a newspaper advertisement but talk about the experience, what they found great and what sort of connection they felt to your restaurant. This gives your restaurant a personality for people to relate to and an image even before they visit it.
How to Engage with Food Bloggers and Reviewers
Now that we have established why food bloggers are a good investment in your restaurant marketing strategy, now we’ll elaborate on how to engage with them. Read on to know how to chose and invite bloggers, what your etiquette should be, what platforms you should cover and what the payment structure should be like.
1. Choosing Your Bloggers
When it comes to choosing whom to approach there are a number of factors that must be kept in mind. You are not just featuring your restaurant as a one-time thing and chances are you will be engaging with the same blogger again. You cannot just haphazardly pick anyone or give the job to the first person that agrees. That being said here are 6 things you must keep in mind while choosing a blogger.
The first question that you must ask yourself is how is the chosen blogger relevant to your restaurant and brand image that you are trying to create. Bloggers have their own interests and fortes and most of them specialize in kind blogging. This means that they cover certain kinds of foods and restaurants. Some may cover only sweets and bakeries while someone else may be an exclusive vegan blogger. Someone else, on the other hand, may only cover theme restaurants or some may cover restaurants with a certain history only. Follow different bloggers and identify who would be relevant to your restaurant. It
(ii) Target Audience
The next thing to consider while deciding your blogger is to look at the audience they cater to. If their target audience does not match yours, it would be a wasted pitch. Go through their comments, likes and study the type of content they write and the target audience of restaurants that they cover.
(iii) Online Platform
While different bloggers are on different platforms there are some platforms that you will inevitably cover and on others, you will see an increase in your following. The platforms that most bloggers directly cover are- Zomato, Instagram, WordPress, Blogspot, Youtube (through vlogs), blogger etc. Through these platforms, people will be directed to your restaurant page on different social media platforms and your website.
(iv) Page Views and Reach
The next thing to consider while deciding which blogger you want to engage with is the page views and reach that they garner totally and on individual posts. It makes no sense to engage with a blogger who does not have the required brand pull even if they are talented. You can reach out to them of course but then it would be a marketing for marketing deal where both of you feature each other on your respective pages for creating a bond and goodwill while reaching out to each others audience.
Even though blogging is an online activity, for a restaurant which is local the location of a blogger is also important. If the audience of a blogger is based out of your city where the restaurant is located it makes no sense to engage with them no matter how good they are. Chose a blogger from the same city as their maximum audience would be from the there as well.
(v) Shared Interest
Finally, it is very important for the interests of the blogger you engage with to match with yours. Engaging with a blogger is same as getting a business partner or a new colleague and for the betterment of both your restaurant and the blogger it is necessary that your interests match. While choosing a restaurant, bloggers do their own research and have their own reasons to choose one restaurant over another. Depending upon the nature of the blog, a food blogger picks his/her restaurant. A mutual interest is thus a minimum for you to consider while approaching a food blogger.
2. Inviting the Food Bloggers
Now that how to choose a blogger has been dealt with, next thing is how to invite your chosen bloggers. Here is a step by step guide:-
(i) Contact the Bloggers
Most bloggers are very easy to contact and approach. Take a close look at their blog and you will find an email address or a phone number that you can contact them on. If you do not find anything you can always leave a comment saying that you would like to approach them and leave your own email id for them to follow up on.
(ii) Create a Relationship
We can not emphasize this point enough. Understand that your blogger will probably be there to stay as your brand ambassador and in a sense be the face of your restaurant for all his/her followers. It is better to create a healthy relationship right from the first email. Value their time and efforts, talk to them, tell them about your restaurant all this will make them connect to the restaurant better and the result will be a better feature for you.
(iii) Be Well-Organised
Another complaint that most bloggers have with the restaurateur is that they are not well organised when it comes to engaging with a blogger. Send them a timely invite (at least a week before) to any event you want them to cover. Extend an open invite for a normal feature and decide the time convenient for both. Be well prepared for the visit and deliver o the promises you made, it tells that you are professional and a happy blogger would mean a happier you when the feature is finally out!
(iv) Give Them Something New
Bloggers love experiencing and featuring newer concepts and innovations. If you plan to invite someone for a regular feature, chances are that they will agree but it will not be as satisfactory. Instead, give them something extra to cover. This way not only are you adding more light to your restaurant but actually exposing it from a different point of view. On the upside, more bloggers will be interested in your venture if you give them something unique to cover as they prefer not simply covering your restaurant but showing it from an angle. Creating a special event for bloggers, inviting them to cover your new menu or giving them a chance to talk to your head chef will be a win-win for both of you.
(v) Be Clear about the Compensation
The one thing that you need to be transparent about is the compensation. Unless the blogger asks it is advised to not offer payment in cash as they will put it as sponsored but if they do be very clear about the traffic you expect and the price you are willing to offer. Reach a common price after negotiations but stick to it and if the blogger is not asking for money at least let everything they have in your restaurant that day be on the house!
4. Deciding the Compensation
As far as payment is concerned it happens in two ways, cash and kind. Professional bloggers usually deal in cash while upcoming bloggers or those who do it as an activity deal in kind.
(i) Monetary Compensation
Usually, professional bloggers require a certain payment for giving you a great audience reach. These bloggers require a cash payment. Payment can be based on traffic report and the number of clicks that they usually have on their blog and in order to know if the blog really is worth all that you are spending, you can simply ask for a traffic report for your feature exclusively, but be careful in offering the payment without being asked for as most bloggers are transparent regarding their source of income and will write, sponsored at the top of the post.
(ii) Incentive-Based Compensation
Incentive-based payment or payment in kind includes bloggers who are more upcoming or have not asked for a direct payment. For them, you can create a wonderful restaurant experience, show them the backend, let them talk to the chef, give them your best dish for free and engage with them. This way they will not only be inclined to write more about you but also enter a good business relation with you. If they like you, you can count on them to cover all your future events and innovations.
The growing popularity of restaurant reviews has made it imperative for restaurants to include engagement with food bloggers in their restaurant marketing plan. Keep these tips in mind before you host that food bloggers meet at your restaurant and see how the word spreads about your restaurant business!