Working with Influencers: A Guide for Pizzeria Owners

Posted by Elizabeth Kelly

Elizabeth was the Marketing Specialist for SpeedLine Solutions from 2017 to 2021. As the previous Managing Editor for the On Point Blog, she ensured our audiences got the restaurant and delivery technology information and news that we're known for.

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According to Merriam-Webster, an influencer is “a person who is able to generate interest in something (such as a consumer product) by posting about it on social media.” Of course, there are both benefits and drawbacks to working with influencers. 

The internet loves to make fun of social media influencers, and in some cases for good reason. Many “influencers” ask businesses for free products for very little in exchange. This guide isn’t about dealing with their unwelcome marketing proposals, but about how to effectively select a social media “celebrity” to work with to promote your pizza to your desired audience, and drive more orders. 


1. Pick your media

Before you decide on an influencer, consider what social media platform is the best fit for your audience and your brand. What’s the age group of your average customer? What social platform are they spending their time on?

Consider Instagram: it’s most popular with people aged 20-35 years old. Instagram is image- and short video-based, and a lot of the content is centered around gorgeous looking food, fashion, and travel. Would an Instagram influencer be able to reach your ideal audience, and do so in a way that is on-brand for your restaurant? 

Compare Instagram with YouTube, which is video-based. The social platform hosts a lot of tutorials, cooking videos, how-tos and vlogs. Would a YouTuber be a better fit for your restaurant? 

Don’t forget about other platforms, such as Facebook, WeChat, Twitter, TikTok, blogs, Pinterest, and SnapChat. If you aren’t familiar with them, research each platform (and ask your staff members for input), then run through the same thought process as above. 

Remember the Marshall McLuhan quote, “the medium is the message.” The social media platform you pick will have an impact on the end message that is conveyed to your customers and the influencer’s audience.


2. Get social

Once you’ve selected the platform, get familiar with it, and with your pizzeria’s presence on it. If you don’t manage your own social media presence (or have an agency or staff member manage it) on that platform, take a close look to ensure it properly reflects your brand. Cull any content that doesn’t match your brand’s style, or tone of voice. There is nothing wrong with going back, and curating your Instagram page or your YouTube account to only show your best content. We’ve put together some tips for using Instagram for restaurants in Insta-Love Worthy Instagram Tips for Restaurants

If you aren’t on your chosen social media platform at all, now is the time to make an account and get active. Create a social media strategy, and implement it a little while before you plan to start your influencer campaign. 

The point of any social media advertising campaign is to get people from the platform to actually convert (spend money at your restaurant). This is the toughest part. By having a presence on the platform, you can create a “mini-step” by encouraging people to follow your brand, and essentially opt-in to more marketing messages from you on the platform. 


3. Search out local influencers

Once you have a presence on the social media platform of your choosing, you need to find the most popular people in your area. 

There are a few things to look for to see if potential influencers are a good fit for your pizzeria.

  • Do they have a big enough following? 
  • Do the people following them meet your customer demographic?
  • Are they local? And is their audience local?
  • Do they fit your brand, and represent something that you personally would be happy to be associated with? 
  • Are they consistent in their own brand?
  • Do they have any content that has been sponsored by other companies?
  • How engaged are they with their followers? Are there comments on their posts, and if so, do they respond? 

This part is extremely critical. You need to feel confident that the influencer you contact will be able to deliver on your goals, without negatively impacting your pizzeria’s reputation.


4. Get in contact

Get in touch with the influencers that you think could be a good match for your pizzeria. Send them a message directly on the platform, but also request a more direct way to contact them, like an email address or a phone number. 


5. Negotiate

Influencer campaigns aren’t free. Even if all you offer the influencer is a free meal, remember that your food cost and labour are still important. At the same time, if you are working with an experienced influencer that is expanding their audience using sponsored posts and online ads, remember that they will have associated costs for running the campaign as well. 

Discuss compensation openly, and be very clear what results are expected. Have a contract put together, to reduce the risk of any confusion later on in the process. 

Also make sure to set the expectation that you have final say in anything published about your business. 

This means that if they have filmed a “behind-the-scenes” video of your restaurant kitchen, that you get to see the final video before it’s published. Why? Because while you may trust that the influencer will represent your brand well, they may not be entirely familiar with the restaurant industry. Despite having an impeccable kitchen, maybe on the filming day something was missed, and it violates the health code. Or maybe the camera accidentally picked up one of your delivery drivers talking about a customer, and the influencer didn’t remove it from the final cut.

Even if the campaign consists of a series of still images, you need to retain control of your brand by approving all of the text (copy) that is posted beside it.  


6. Create the creative

An influencer has become successful because of the content that they’ve already been consistently sharing. If you’ve selected an influencer that matches your brand, you should feel comfortable enough to let them take creative control of the campaign. Let them do what they do well, and be supportive. By this point, you’ve decided you’re willing to invest in an influencer campaign, so get the most out of it. 

The sky’s the limit on what a campaign can look like. Discuss it in detail with the influencer, and don’t be afraid to suggest ideas. Remember to include a way to monitor the results in the campaign design itself. More on that below. 


7. Monitor the campaign

You wouldn’t hire a marketing agency without obtaining feedback about how well their campaigns worked, so why would you hire an influencer without being able to track their results? You will need to devise a way to track the results of each post by the influencer. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Coupon code for online ordering.

Create a coupon code or promotional special that is only available to customers who saw the influencer’s post. If you use SpeedDine for your online ordering website, it’s fairly simple to create a coupon code in Menu Designer. 

Create a secret menu item.

Have a special product only seen in the ad, and see how many people order it. If a “secret menu” works for your pizzeria’s brand, this is an excellent way to measure how many people find out about it. The revenue from that menu item, and the rest of the order made by the same person, can be attributed to the campaign. 

Run a contest. 

Run a contest with the influencer, and see how many people enter. This works well for awareness, but is harder to track in real dollars. It’s purpose is to make people more familiar with your brand.

Remember to track all of the sales that come directly from your influencer in order to get a general idea of your return on investment. This will help you decide if you should run a similar campaign in the future. 

Influencer marketing is new, and as such, there is not a lot of information on how well it works, and what the standard process should be. If you decide an influencer campaign is the right way for you to market your pizzeria, go ahead and try it, and please let us know how well it worked!


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Posted on Wed, Jan 29, 2020 @ 07:01 AM.
Updated on May 13, 2021 @ 2:29 PM PST.

Tags: Restaurant Marketing

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