How to Get Food Influencers to Promote Your Restaurant

Learn strategies to collaborate with food influencers and boost your restaurant's visibility, sales, and brand awareness on social media.

10 min read
Mx Blog (US/CA/AU/NZ) - How to Get Food Influencers to Promote Your Restaurant - hero

Whether you're an experienced marketer or new to digital marketing, this article will help you navigate the complex world of influencer marketing and maximize its benefits for your restaurant.

For further reading, our Food Influencer Marketing Guide for Restaurants outlines detailed strategies on how to work with influencers so you can leverage their reach on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

What is food influencer marketing?

Food influencer marketing taps into the credibility and influence of social media personalities to enhance your brand's visibility and convert their followers into new customers. Influencer marketing taps into the credibility and influence of social media personalities to enhance your brand's visibility and convert their followers into new customers. Influencers can be powerful allies in increasing brand recognition and driving sales. By partnering with the right influencers, your restaurant can reach a broader audience beyond traditional advertising channels.

Benefits of influencer marketing for restaurants

Influencer marketing offers several benefits for restaurants:

  • Trust and authenticity: Followers often trust influencers' recommendations as much as advice from friends.

  • High ROI: Influencer campaigns typically yield a high return on investment, significantly outperforming traditional digital advertising.

  • Brand awareness: Influencers help spread the word about your restaurant, fostering a virtuous cycle of social media engagement.

Surveys show that social media influencers significantly impact Gen Z and millennial dining choices. For example, 24% of Gen Z and 17% of millennials try new restaurants based on influencer recommendations. Over half of millennial TikTok users have ordered from a restaurant they discovered on the platform. 

Overall, the influencer marketing industry as a whole has grown 70% since 2020, and is expected to be worth some $24 billion by the end of 2024.

Influencer example: The Keith Lee effect

When influencer Keith Lee awards a restaurant a positive rating on TikTok, it can cause the famous "Keith Lee effect" — a sudden and dramatic spike in business due to the fact that his reviews reach an audience of over 16 million followers. This surge in visibility can lead to increased foot traffic, online orders, and greater brand awareness. 

A brief overview of food influencer marketing

Begin by identifying potential influencers who align with your brand's values and goals. Consider their audience, engagement rates, and content style, as well as the potential cost of engaging in a partnership with them. Establish clear communication upfront to ensure a positive and collaborative relationship.

Influencer types

Restaurant influencers don't conform to a single category — they include professional critics, hobbyist foodies, culinary creatives, and lifestyle or travel vloggers. For restaurants, finding and partnering with the right influencer as part of a broader marketing strategy can help boost the business' visibility. There is a wide variety of influencers out there, and our downloadable guide breaks down each tier of influencer, including estimated costs and reach.

  • Nano-influencers are cost-effective and great for personalized engagement.

  • Micro-influencers are ideal for growing brand awareness, with authority in specific niches.

  • Mid-tier influencers are known for professional-quality content across multiple channels.

  • Macro-influencers can be expensive, but are guaranteed to reach an enormous audience. 

  • Mega-influencers are considered "celebrities" from a social media perspective.

Influencer channels

Just as influencers have distinct content topics, audiences, and follower counts, they're also active across a diverse set of social media platforms. Here's a rundown of the top channels in the influencer marketing space from the State of Influencer Marketing 2024 benchmark report:

  • TikTok is great for generating engagement and excitement, and is famous for challenges that go viral. It's the channel of choice for 69% of brands that use influencer marketing.

  • Instagram is a popular platform for not only showcasing menu items, but the entire restaurant experience — 47% of brands that use influencer marketing utilize Instagram.

  • YouTube is a go-to platform for more substantial content such as behind-the-scenes tours, in-depth reviews, and interviews. This is the influencer marketing platform of choice for 33% of brands.

  • Facebook attracts a large and diverse audience, especially among demographics who may not be as active on the newer social channels, and 28% of brands use it for influencer marketing.

How to create Instagrammable dishes

Focus on the quality of your ingredients, garnishes, and composition to ensure your dishes translate well on camera. Thoughtful lighting and location can make your food look even more appealing. Familiar, hearty dishes often resonate more with audiences than overly stylized food.

Influencer examples: Hispanic Heritage Month

During Hispanic Heritage Month, DoorDash sponsored campaigns with influencers visiting restaurants such as wezzarepas in Los Angeles, Puerto Viejo in New York City, La Victoria in San Jose, Bogota Bistro in Brooklyn, and Sergio's in Miami. These collaborations highlighted the unique offerings of these establishments, enhancing their visibility and customer engagement.

What data and analytics should I be aware of?

Understanding customer insights and other analytics is important. This data can help you select influencers whose followers match your target audience, ensuring that your campaign reaches the right people. Analytics like customer location, order history, item preferences, and reviews can help you determine which menu items to promote, and when.

What do I need to know about the influencer and their audience?

Research the influencer’s engagement rates, audience demographics, and content style. Ensure they align with your brand values and that their audience matches your target market.

What are the different types of influencer partnerships?

Influencer partnerships can vary from one-off posts to long-term collaborations. Here are some innovative marketing ideas for working with influencers:

  1. Exclusive events: Host tasting events or menu launches.

  2. Discount codes: Share special codes that influencers can distribute to their followers.

  3. Giveaways and contests: Engage potential customers through exciting social media contests.

  4. Custom collaborations: Co-create menu items or showcase behind-the-scenes activities.

How do I evaluate influencer engagement rates?

Engagement rates indicate how actively an influencer's followers interact with their content. High engagement rates often mean a more loyal and engaged audience, making the influencer a valuable partner.

How do I measure campaign performance?

Track metrics such as likes, comments, shares, and clicks to evaluate the success of your influencer campaign. Sales data and redemption of discount codes can also provide insights into the campaign's effectiveness.

Influencer marketing case study: Coyo Taco 

Coyo Taco, a Miami-based taqueria, integrates influencer collaborations into their regular marketing strategy. They host micro and macro-influencers weekly and have larger campaigns involving multiple influencers to promote events and partnerships. For instance, their collaboration with DoorDash involved influencers of varying calibers, resulting in a successful promotion tracked through unique discount codes.

"Each week, we have at least three influencers coming in to dine at one of our five locations across South Florida, whether it's a micro-influencer or a macro-influencer. And then we'll have larger campaigns or events, with 10 to 15 influencers posting throughout the week to promote it."

Alexa Fidelman, Director of Marketing & Social Media, Coyo Taco
Mx Blog (US/CA/AU/NZ) - How to Get Food Influencers to Promote Your Restaurant - Marketing guide

Download the Food Influencer Marketing Guide for Restaurants

By creating social media conversations around your restaurant, an influencer marketing campaign can be the catalyst for more engagement, where your customers feel inspired to share their experience. This is a powerful strategy for restaurants looking to grow their audience and increase brand visibility. 

Partnering with the right influencers and leveraging their reach across various platforms can help restaurants achieve significant business growth. For more insights and detailed strategies, download our complete guide to food influencer marketing.


Sara DeForest
Sara DeForest


logo subscribe to blog

Subscribe for insights to help you run a great business, delivered weekly to your inbox.