Business Insight

Choosing Your Social Media Influencers

A SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILE for your foodservice business, such as a Facebook page or Instagram profile, is not only a way of reaching out to your customers through personalised communication. It’s also an important step in finding social media influencers who can help build your brand through their social media posts, images, hashtags and blogs.

Social media influencers are those who have established a trusted reputation as a reliable source of information and, importantly, recommendation among their friends and followers. By engaging with these influencers, you can maximise your marketing ‘footprint’ in the social media realm — which translates to greater awareness of your food menu and potentially more customer orders and repeat business.

You can find potential influencers by looking at who’s communicating about foodservice businesses to your local customer base on social media, and especially those who have mentioned your business by name. Start by checking your own Facebook page, Instagram profile or Twitter feed and see who is saying complimentary things about your food, or similar style food in your local area.

Online tools such as Google Alerts allow you to set keywords to find influencers writing about relevant topics (such as restaurants, cafes, clubs and bistros serving pizza, pasta and Italian cuisine in your local area). Another useful aid is Social Mention, which can track mentions of your business name on various social media platforms.

Once you’ve found food bloggers, restaurant or takeaway review writers, Facebook users who visit your page or Instagram accounts which feature photos of your food and a favourable caption, the next step is to reach out to them as potential influencers.

One simple way to do this is by sharing or reposting their posts on your own social media accounts and by replying to them with thanks for their appreciation of your food.

You can then enlist their support in promoting your business further on social media — for example, by giving them the chance to trial a new menu item and, if they like it, post a positive review; by sharing their experiences of your food with others; and by reproducing their comments on your website.

You can also encourage them to upload photos and videos showing themselves and their friends enjoying your food, using the incentive of a discounted or free meal.

The more you can encourage such online interaction, the greater the potential number of positive online references to your business. Also check out the analytic tools provided by your social media platform — these can often assist in tracking influencer engagement — and, if you want to go further, you can employ a professional service which enables you to track and follow up emails, see who’s linking to your website and social media accounts, and even track mentions of your brand name across multiple platforms and link these back to local influencers.

Remember, the more positive mentions of your brand and its food there are online, the greater the likelihood that potential customers will learn about you and decide to give you a go.