Are you looking to build local awareness for your food business and increase your sales? Influencer marketing could be just what your food business needs!
When done correctly, influencer marketing can help…
- Grow your customer base
- Increase awareness of your food business
- Build trust and authenticity for your business
- Drive sales (this one’s our favourite!)
This resource contains everything you need to get started using influencer marketing to help grow your food business.
What is influencer marketing?
As a business owner, you are probably using social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or even TikTok to connect with your customers so it is likely you have come across an influencer account or two. Also known as content creators or simply creators, Influencers are essentially just accounts that are, you guessed it - influential!
Therefore Influencer Marketing is a method of advertising where you leverage an influencer's audience or status within their community or following. The strength of this bond between the influencer and their audience is the key ingredient to influencer marketing on social media as it mimics word of mouth advertising.
Could influencer marketing work for my business?
Influencer marketing can be powerful in driving sales for businesses big and small. 80% of consumers have purchased something via an influencer recommendation and 92% of marketers who used influencer marketing last year, found it effective.
A key reason for this is trust, influencers or creators have built a trusted and engaged audience, receptive to their recommendations. Similar to the way we may follow a friend's advice to check out a new local cafe or new product, influencers offer their audience recommendations based on their own authentic experiences.
As a business owner using an influencer can be an effective way to increase awareness of your product or service and through their recommendations which can ultimately drive sales.
Influencer marketing is a very popular strategy with 93% of marketers have used influener marketing - Orbelo
Types of Influencers
Nano - Have between 1000 and 10,000 followers. Nano influencers have small, highly dedicated followings that feel highly connected to the influencer. These influencers present great value for small businesses.
Micro - Have between 10,000 and 50,000 followers Micro-influencers have built a dedicated following and have done some brand collaboration in the past. These influencers present immense value to small businesses as the amount of exposure they provide.
Macro - Have between 50,000 and 500,000 followers These influencers have a large following and often request higher payment for their services. If engaging with macro-influencers ensure to ask for visibility on their engagement rate and follower demographics.
How do I find the right influencer for my business?
Ultimately the success of influencer marketing comes down to audience alignment. Using an influencer allows your business to get in front of their audience, this is why it is crucial to make sure you select an influencer with a following relevant to the audience you are aiming to target.
When selecting an influencer here are some things to consider.
Start local - As a local business owner it is important to identify influencers within the area your business is operating in. Someone may have a sizable following of 10,000 but unless they are influential in your community the collaboration will not have an impact. Influencers can be anyone from the captain of a local sports team, a local MP or even another business owner. Think about people within your local community that are well known and have an online presence.
Interest in your business - When looking to engage an influencer a great place to start is looking at your following. Look for accounts with a sizable, engaged following who are also following you. These are great influencers to engage with as they are already interested in your business and can speak to the value of your product authentically
Similar interests - Look for influencers that share the values and interests of your business ask yourself: Who does my audience connect with? For example, if you are selling healthy meals for athletes look for fitness based influencers. Similarly, if your focus is family meals look for family or parent influencers
Engaged following - The power of influencers lies in the engagement of their followers, you want to make sure that their audience is highly engaged. There are free tools to help you check their engagement rate like Phalanx, or simply check out their profile and see the number of likes, comments and views their posts gain
TIP: An engagement rate of 2.5% and above is great!
How to look for influencers to connect with
Start by building a list of potential candidates. We have outlined some ways below that you can start to identify influencers to work with.
Hashtags - One easy influencer discovery method will be to search localized #hashtags such as #melbournefoodscene or #sydneyfoodie, this will give you a good mix of different content and influencers. It is important to look through influencers' content library before approaching them, make sure that their content aligns with your brand and the outward image your business wants to project.
Tools - We have pulled together some tools to help you search for influencers in your area.
Location - Another consideration is what geographical region the influencer normally operates in, this is key to finding influencers that will have the greatest impact on your business. Make sure to look for influencers that are local to your business, it’s likely they will have a local following, increasing the chance of the collaboration converting the influencer’s followers into your customers.
Try searching your local town as a location on Instagram and look for top posts in the area. Do this by using Instagram's search function and typing in the area where your business operates.
How do I approach an influencer?
Engage - First, engage with their content through your business account. This could be something as simple as following them, liking and commenting on their most recent post. Doing this will show the influencer that you care about them and their content and hopefully get them to notice your brand either consciously or subconsciously.
Connect - Check their bio on their page to see if they have left a business email, typically if this is done it is because they want to keep their DM’s open to their audience. If there is a business email, use it! They have left it there for a reason, this is the place where they want to be contacted by a brand.
Introduce yourself - Use a message similar to the below make sure to introduce yourself and your business, let them know why you’d like to work with them and ask if they would like to collaborate with you.
A first outreach may look like...
Subject - [Your Business Name] Collaboration Opportunity
My name is Jamie and I run Cookaborough’s Kitchen, a local business providing busy families with delicious homemade/ready-made meals.
I really like your content and would love to discuss a potential collaboration should you be interested.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
TIP: Your first message should NOT be about deliverables, it's about building an authentic connection. Your first message SHOULD be asking if the influencer would like to work with you on a collaborative scale with only necessary details
What do I offer?
There are two main types of collaborations that you can consider when engaging with an influencer. Both have benefits and limitations, make sure to select one that best suits your business needs.
Some influencers may be willing to exchange a post for some free food. This is a great approach and is commonly referred to a gifted exchange. Alternatively, you can have a paid arrangement with an influencer.
An approach where an influencer is given something for free from a business to promote. For your business, this involves offering a meal or product in exchange for some content. If you are following this make sure that the packaging is beautiful, we suggest a thoughtful, handwritten note - this extra care can go a long way in building a relationship.
- This approach is cost-effective as the only cost to your business is the product you are giving the influencer.
- This is a great way to build relationships with local influencers and is effective if you are hoping to engage a couple of influencers at the same time. For example ahead of Mother’s Day, you could give several local mum influencers a free meal.
- Gifting is also a great way to get influencers to try your product, which could allow them to recommend it authentically and potentially become a customer in the future.
- As no payment is exchanged other than the free product, this approach does not allow for deliverables that are as specific as a paid collaboration. For example, an influencer may share it on their Instagram Stories but not on their feed.
- With a gifted product, an influencer will have the freedom to promote the product in their way. This isn't a bad thing, remembering influencer marketing is all about authenticity, but it’s important to consider that it is unlikely you will have visibility on the post ahead of it being shared.
TIP: Make sure to let the influencer know the key things to include when posting most importantly tagging your business and sharing with their followers how to order, this could be a link to your Cookaborough menu
Paid collaborations are a more formalised approach where an influencer receives monetary payment for their services. Similar to the way you might pay for ad space to promote your business, paying for an influencer post is a way to invest in promoting your business.
Often an influencer will have a rate card available with a list of options and the cost of each. for example an in-feed post or reel is likely more expensive than a story. When selecting the placement, let them know what you are hoping to achieve with the post and they may be able to recommend an option for you.
If an influencer does not have a rate card let them know of the budget you are working with and what you would like to achieve with this budget.
- As you are paying for an influencer's services you can have oversight over exactly how your product is represented, what type of post it is (story or feed post) and when the post is live. These elements are referred to as the ‘deliverables’.
- Often when using a paid arrangement you will be able to see the post ahead of time, allowing you to make sure you are happy with the final post. This does not always mean that changes you want to make will be made as the post is a collaborative effort between you and the influencer.
- Great for a specific message, as you will have a greater input in the post it is easier to use to promote specific products, moments or promotions.
- The financial impact may be significant depending on the size of your business and the size and rate of the influencer
How do I manage the process?
Once you have decided on your approach it’s time to work out exactly how this collaboration will work. This might involve some back and forth between yourself and the influencer at first to ensure the collaboration is beneficial for both parties.
Have a plan for deliverables
Having a clear plan of the number of posts you want, where you want them posted and when you want them posted will eliminate a lot of potential hiccups that could be experienced. Having this specified in writing for the influencer will help them with getting their end of the deal done on time.
Make sure to give the influencer your @ handle and let them know of any hashtags you would like them to consider using.
The text you would like included accompanying the post such as ‘Easy healthy meals for the whole family’
Call to action
Give the influencer a link to your menu and let them know what action you want them to ask their audience to do such as ‘Order now’
When to post
Make sure to agree on a specific time that is relevant to the audience you are targeting.
If you are engaging an influencer for more than one post, be specific on how regularly they will be promoting your products. This could involve supplying them with x 2 meals a month for a couple of months.
TIP: We recommend engaging an influencer for more than one post to maximise the impact of your collaboration. This approach is often more cost-effective and increases your chances of the partnership driving sales for your food business
Creativity is key
Remember you engaged an influencer because you like their content, so make sure to give them the space to be creative with the posts to ensure they promote your business in an authentic way to their audience.
Evaluate the success of your partnership
Once you have worked with an influencer take some time to work out the impact it had on your business and customers. Feel free to ask the influencer if they can share with you how the post performed, in terms of reach and engagement. Some other metrics of success to look at to evaluate the collaboration could be…
Look at your sales to see if there was an increase in orders after the influencer shared the post.
A great way to track the success of these promotions is to give the influencer an exclusive coupon code to promote to their audience. We recommend offering 10% -25% off, using a code will allow you to see how many orders were a direct result of your collaboration.
Profile visits on your business Instagram
look to see if there has been an increase since the influencer post. View this by going to your profile > Insights > Accounts reached > Profile Visits
Instagram Following increase
See if you have had an increase in Instagram followers proceeding the influencer’s post. View this by going to your Instagram profile > Insights > Total followers.
Remember influencers play a great role in building awareness for your food business. You might not see the results of the partnership reflected in your weekly sales straight away (in fact message repetition is key in creating sales). We recommend trying a couple of collaborations before deciding if this is a key strategy that’s right for your business’s growth.
- Nano and Micro-influencers will have a very strong connection to their audience as well as better-concentrated geography of their audience. These will be the most cost-effective for your business.
- Don’t feel like you have to run an entire influencer blitz and work with multiple influencers simultaneously. Instead, pick one that fits your brand and work with them to make it as successful as possible by building an authentic relationship.
Plan and be personable
- Find influencers that love what you do and what you stand for and approach them.
- Build authentic connections with your influencers before talking about any business.
- Take the time to plan your influencer gifting at key moments throughout the year.
- Offer thoughtful meals with lovely messages because who wouldn’t love that!
- Influencer audiences follow them because they enjoy the content that they create. So let them create a piece of content for their audience with as few creative barriers as possible.
- Well-intentioned creative input could be taken the wrong way and frustrate an influencer which will, in turn, harm the content that is being created. Unless they ask for your input, leave the creative elements up to the influencer.
So what are you waiting for? Start researching, connecting with and feeding hungry influencers and watch your business grow.
Looking for more ways to grow your food business? Get in touch with our team below to see how Cookaborough could help grow your food business.