Social media influencers can be great for your business when they are the right fit. Especially in the restaurant world, the right social media influencers, local foodies, can really help your business achieve goals. Business owners often have several questions surrounding working with influencers, so here’s our thoughts and the best answers we can provide.

Are social media influencers really effective?  In our experience, YES! The right influencers can definitely be effective. And most times, they want to be effective and they care to know if they helped you reach your goal. If they don’t seem to care, they probably aren’t for you. Keep in mind, Social Media Influencers are typically business people just like you and me. They are going to care and be passionate about whether or not they are getting results, results help their business, and if they help their clients (you!).

What should I look for when hiring a social media influencer?

  • Posts: First and foremost, do you like their posts? Are they going to represent your brand in a way that best helps your business?
  • Audience: Judging by their posts, are they going to reach your target audience? Foodie influencers are a great example, there are a lot of foodies out there. If you’re looking to hire a foodie influencer to encourage their audience to eat out at your restaurant, you want to make sure that the pictures of food they are posting are not made up of mostly, or all, meals they cooked. You want to ensure the foodies you work with are foodies that like to eat out. Otherwise, you are going to be posting to people who like to cook more than eat out.
  • Engagement: Are they receiving a high amount of engagement on their posts? Are real people commenting on them? Do they take the time to comment back? Do you like what they say when they respond? If a social media influencer does not have a high engagement vs. follow ratio, then they are not for you. Be careful of influencers with paid for followers that are not real, these influencers will not help you reach your business goals.
  • Followers: Although engagement vs. follow ratio is important, you will want to ensure that (obviously) the social media influencers you are looking at do have a solid following. But keep in mind, this is not a deal breaker. An influencer with 3k avid followers can be way more effective than an influencer with 10k followers.

How do I measure success? Like a lot of marketing projects and campaigns in general, this can be tricky. What’s important to define before you hire an influencer is what goal are you trying to achieve? We recommend starting small before aiming to increase revenue by 25% (which is an achievable goal.) Find an influencer or two and see if they are willing to work with you on cost. Once you’ve done that, here’s what you should measure:

  • The amount of followers you receive the week of the post(s)
  • The level of engagement you receive the week of the post(s) vs. the level of engagement you usually receive
  • Did you see an increase of sales the week during and after the post(s)?
  • How much engagement did your influencer’s post receive? Was it as much or more than their usual posts?
  • Then evaluate: What worked well? What should you try next time? Is there a way to measure sales directly that will be effective?

The hottest question of them all: What should I pay?It has been our experience that a social media post via a Social Media Influencer can cost anywhere from $25 per post to $15k+ for an entire package. This is never the most popular or easiest answer to help you make a decision on hiring an influencer, but you should decide if the cost is worth it dependent upon the influencer, and if the cost is right for you.

Some influencers will do posts strictly for trade, but in our experience your business truly needs to be the trendiest, hottest commodity to only work off of trade with effective influencers. In most cases, you should plan on paying a cost, and paying for any expense that the post may have to the influencer, i.e, food, giveaways, gift cards, etc. Like we said early on in the post, social media influencers are business people just like the rest of us, and should be treated the same way you conduct business with other vendors. Negotiate, talk it through, ask questions and feel comfortable about the cost of the service you are going to be provided.

On that note, be open to budgeting some dollars towards working with influencers if it’s a practice in your industry and seems to be working for other businesses. It’s been our experience that it is worth the try if you are going to do it right. Like most projects in business, if you aren’t going to put a worthwhile budget towards it, it is not going to be worthwhile for your business.

If you’d like to learn more about working with social media influencers please contact us.