Influencer marketing has been holding steady as one of the top ways companies generate more brand awareness and boost sales. Influencers and food companies are no exception, as this type of outreach can be more personal, effective, and engaging. Instagram photos are known for being appealing slices of life, and it’s the perfect format to showcase impressive or tasty snaps of content for food brands.‌

Today’s experienced influencers drive how consumers engage with food and beverage content, whether recipes, trends or just mouth-watering photographs. Getting your products in the hands of the right influencer improves your company’s appeal and credibility with the audiences you most want to reach. These influencers have long follower lists of people who trust them and are influenced by what they post. Influencers set trends, making them excellent resources for getting your products out there.

So, how do you get started merging your restaurant and influence marketing? Here are seven ways to grow your food or beverage business using influencers.

1. Identify your audience

First thing’s first: you need to know who you’re trying to reach. Putting your food or drink product in the hands of the wrong influencer will do you little good, and finding the right match for your brand means first understanding your audience. Take these steps to get to know your customers better:

  • Research: What are the most popular platforms with your target demographic? Do they read long-form blog posts, or are they primarily Twitter users? What influencers and personalities do they interact with? Which influencers are your competitors engaging with?
  • Define goals: You also need to know what your audience needs, and sometimes on a day-to-day basis. Are they looking for a beverage to bring to a party? Do they need a quick dinner recipe? Then, you can start engaging influencers who run pages to help people can accomplish these goals.
  • Align demographics: If your ideal customer is a teenager, chances are you need to engage a teenage influencer. People like to see influencers within their own demographic.

Knowing who you’re trying to reach is an essential first step in starting a successful influencer marketing program. You want your customer base to be truly inspired, and to do that, you need to understand your typical customers and what they care about most. 

2. Master product placement

Even if you find the perfect influencer for your campaign, you need to consider precisely how they’ll showcase your product. For example, if you’re running a summer campaign, put the influencer by a pool holding your cold drink. Other people will want to do it too. Play on any trends happening in the food world. Just make sure that your product is the star of the show and not an afterthought that’s tagged in the text of a post. 

3. Incorporate giveaways and contests

People love to win things. And they especially love to win stuff with minimal work on their end. Collaborate with influencers on special giveaways or contests that will engage your prospects with a simple task, like posting a pic of them with a specific hashtag. This tactic can lead to more product sales, and more social media follows or mailing list sign-ups. Just make sure the prize is relevant to what your audience currently cares about.

4. Take advantage of video

Another way to attract a lot of attention from influencers is using video. Blame TikTok or IGTV, but today’s audiences love videos — especially short ones. They’ll regularly consume videos of people cooking their favorite recipe or making a happy hour drink‌.

Video can help people learn and do everything themselves, and your food and drink products can be an impactful part of that journey. This allows you to make better connections while increasing revenue from influencer marketing.

5. Broaden your horizons

Don’t be afraid to take risks. Many influencers built up their initial following precisely because they did something different than the others. Don’t be scared to work with someone who pushes the envelope and starts conversations. These online personalities can build up a lot more buzz around their posts and content, leading to better marketing ROI for you. 

That being said, do remember that you should only work with influencers who will only build up your brand reputation, not bring it down. Stay open-minded, but be cautious about who you reach out to. Make sure that, at their core, they align with your company values.

6. Focus on maintaining relationships

You don’t have to think of an influencer campaign as one-and-done. A big driver of long-term success will be maintaining these relationships so you can keep working with them in the future. You may even start just having a conversation with an influencer, giving you time to get to know each other before starting a promotion. Focus on building meaningful connections with them, like you would with any contractor.

7. Make it a two-way street

An influencer will only want to work with you if they see a clear benefit for them. The more followers they have, the more challenging it may be to entice them to showcase your products. Make it clear what they get out of the campaign, whether it’s a free product, financial compensation, or additional exposure to new audiences. And remember, the bigger they are, the more you’ll need to offer them in return. Don’t insult them with lowball offers, and respect what they do.

8. Get started with LeadDyno

If you’re still unsure how to start your affiliate program, look no further than LeadDyno. We offer affiliate tracking software that helps businesses like yours manage affiliates in one place. Our software also delivers essential insights, so you always know which of your marketing channels are working the best, helping you keeping improving your marketing ROI. We integrate easily with your other platforms to help you integrate influencer marketing for your food or beverage business more efficiently.