Typically, when you think of influencer marketing, your mind will most likely head straight to the big, global brands, probably e-commerce first. But, when thinking of food and drink specifically in influencer marketing, you’re thinking of brands like Coca-Cola, with huge marketing budgets.

However, influencer marketing has proved to be an incredibly successful strategy for restaurants, whether big chains or individual stores. Keep on reading to understand how influencers could drive sales for your restaurant. 

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing isn’t such a novel technique anymore, as most brands have begun investing over the years. But, what’s been interesting to see more recently, is the increased use of smaller groups like nano and micro influencers, and brands achieving even better returns on investment this way.

This marketing strategy is when businesses will work with influencers (social media creators and personalities with a substantial following), in order to promote their products or services. Depending on the perceived value of your product or service, in exchange for content being posted on social media, the business will offer an incentive in return. This could be the product alone, an additional payment fee, or a commission-based incentive, to name a few. 

How can influencers help to promote your restaurant?

So, when looking at how influencers are able to promote your restaurant, it’s important to establish the difference between global chain restaurants, or local restaurants. The same types of campaigns can be done for both, however, bigger chains often work with medium and macro influencers on larger campaigns. Let’s look at some examples for reference.

1.    Global chain: Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill is a fast-food-style restaurant, primarily located in America, but with stores across Canada and Europe too. They have been gaining the spotlight recently on their influencer marketing campaigns, focussed on TikTok.

As the most downloaded app of 2020, Chipotle managed to quickly take advantage of TikTok’s popularity amongst the younger consumer group, who is generally the brand’s primary target audience.

Working with some of TikTok’s most popular creators like Loren Gray, Addison Rae, and Zach King, their large budget was spent on challenges and trends that would engage their audiences, such as the #GuacDance challenge, and #Boorito challenge.

2.    Local restaurants: Sketch, London

For small, local restaurants, influencer marketing can still be extremely beneficial. The method and type of campaign may just be a little different. The key here is working with local influencers, to access an audience that will be able to visit your restaurant. With influencer marketing, comes the opportunity to enter niche communities on social media, such as the ‘foodie’ group, too.

By finding influencers within the food category, and that are within your restaurant location, you are ensuring that promotional content is being displayed to an audience of followers that are not only able to visit your restaurant, but will also have an interest in your food too.

Let’s look at the example of Sketch, a restaurant in Mayfair (London), that transforms from a tearoom during the day, to a cocktail lounge by evening. They market themselves as a location for food, drink, music, and art. Although they have gained the attention of celebrities like Bella Hadid, their influencer marketing strategy actually comprises London-based nano and micro influencers.

Content and media types

The next question you may have is, what will these influencers post? Well, that is entirely up to you and will be unique to every restaurant! However, we can look at some of the most popular types of content for reference.

As a restaurant, your primary goal may be to drive sales, which means attracting people to your restaurant to purchase your food service. One of the best ways to do this can be to offer a competition, promoted by influencers, such as offering a gift voucher for a meal at your restaurant. At the end of the day, who doesn’t enjoy winning a free meal? Some competitions will even offer the chance to win free dining for a whole year!

Another idea, depending on your type of restaurant, is to offer the opportunity to win a cooking class, or a cocktail-making session. These are great methods of ramping up engagement and getting your restaurant noticed.

This could be done by offering an incentive such as a fixed fee to an influencer and asking them to post on Instagram about the competition. This could include posting a photo of your food, or them dining at your restaurant, alongside caption details of the competition and how to enter. Typically, users would be required to follow steps such as liking the post, following the restaurant’s Instagram account, and tagging a friend.

For an objective of general brand awareness, working with influencers is a great way to achieve this too. By offering influencers a dining experience at your restaurant in exchange for promotion on social media, you can get your business noticed pretty quickly.

Finding influencers to work with

With all of this in mind, you’re probably wondering how to find influencers to work with. Well, it can get a little overwhelming when trying to search for the perfect food influencer in your area. But, with the help of an influencer marketing platform, you can search for specific qualities such as these. This is the most time-effective method, as well as being the most reliable due to the data and insights provided about influencer profiles.

For example, when searching for Instagram influencers on Heepsy, you can directly select the ‘food’ category, to look for influencers within this niche. Then, to find those local to you, you can enter a location, including country, state, and city.

For best results, I would recommend narrowing down your search even further. At the beginning of your campaign, you will have gone through a planning process, which will have included determining your campaign goals, as well as essential elements like a budget. So, let’s say your budget means that you are only searching for nano or micro influencers, you can select this within your search.

In addition to the search features, an influencer marketing platform allows you to analyse an influencer’s profile. This means that you can determine whether their audience demographic is a direct match to that of your target, as well as looking at audience authenticity metrics, to ensure that the influencer is authentic.


It’s no surprise that Instagram is the hub for influencer marketing, due to its aesthetically appealing nature. I mean, in reality, who doesn’t love mouth-watering food snaps on their Instagram feed?

So, as a restaurant, it really is one of the greatest marketing strategies that you can benefit from. The key thing to remember is that planning is essential when it comes to a successful campaign. If you head over to Heepsy, you will find resources like our influencer marketing guide, that can give you all of the most important tips to ace your influencer campaign.

Author info:

Author name: Olivia Adie

Bio: Olivia works on the Marketing team at Heepsy as a Content Writer. She is studying for a Masters degree and likes to play sports with friends and explore new cities in her free time.