Updated: Oct 28, 2021
INFI: All right, thank you guys for joining us for our webinar here. Where we look at another joining of tech and the restaurant industry, today, we're looking at diving deeper into social media and looking at food influencers.
You know, I'm sure if you're a restaurant owner, you have been following some food Instagram accounts, checking out how they interact with the food, and probably wondering how do I spot a good influencer? What can they do for me?
So we've actually brought in someone who is a professional food influencer on Instagram. You can find them at @Bestfoodalex Alex Jewell; I'll let you introduce yourself, man, no better person.
Alex: Cool, yes. I'm @bestfoodalex; my civilian name is Alex. And anything that you have dreams about, that you get excited about to eat when you're breaking the rules, that's the kind of food I post about.
Understanding the Marketing Side of Influencing
Alex: But I understand the importance of marketing, of actually having a return on what we post about that you know it's one thing to kind of share what you're enjoying, what you're eating on your own.
But how do you make that valuable to an audience? And so then, in turn, how do you also make that valuable to the restaurant on the other side.
And so that's sort of where I sit in the middle, being able to market food, especially food in Chicago; where I live. How do you market that to the Chicago audience or the tourist audience too?
Like when people come to Chicago to visit, what's on their list that they've developed from the content that I've posted. So understanding human behavior, what they engage with and where they want to go.
Tiers of food influencers | How to best reach ROI
INFI: These are rough figures that I got, and picking from a few different sources. But I do have experience working with micro-influencers and found that it can even be less than 5,000 followers there as the follower count range there.
Five to twenty thousand for micro, 20 to 100k for mid-tier, macro 100,000 to about a million. And then there is the category of a mega influencer that has over a million.
But keeping in mind, I'm not sure if we're trying to reach over a million people here, and looking at who mega influencers are, I found that it was the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi. So I'm not sure if our community restaurants are going to be able to or even really want to bring in a Ronaldo.
I mean, I'm sure they do, but you know, let's keep it relevant. And Alex, looking at this slide, would you say this is kind of a good definition of the various tiers of influencers? Or are there other ways or other things you'd like to add here or correct?
Alex: Yes. This is a pretty rich subject. I think there really isn't like an exact formula of how to figure it out. Ultimately, what you're looking for is not just reach or potential reach, right?
Because you can't translate like how many followers do you have versus how many people see this. And especially translating that to like how many people, what's the return on those people seeing it, right?
And so what we look at in micro influencing, and this almost goes against like my business model in some ways. Is like if you work with a bunch of micro-influencers instead, their engagement rates are higher.
So you can either pay for like a handful of me, or you can, at the cost of just product, work with ten micro-influencers and have a much bigger impact in terms of your return, at an arguably cheaper price.
What a lot of companies with a little bit more money do is they'll do a hybrid, right? They'll have like a group of micro-influencers, with their higher engagement rates, their audience connects with them more, cares about them more, feels closer to them.
With a handful of one of these other tiers, the mid-tier, the macro if they have a really good budget. Just for that, like added exposure to a much larger group of people.
And the other thing to note here is who else is reposting these people, right? So if you're dealing with like macro-influencers, and it ends up being reposted by like 20 other accounts who like just repost their stuff, or post it on their stories or share it to their audiences.
And say they're journalists or whatever the fact maybe, that's also another consideration, right? It's not guaranteed. But having a combination of things is ultimately really where we see the most return.
INFI: So actually, before we dive into the facts and stats, that first bullet point I got there on the left. Look at engagement rather than the number of followers.
That's something that I've always liked in my, you know, brief experience with the social media influencers is looking at who's commenting because then I think that's a good signal as a potential client. All right, how engaging is this influencer?
How much are people actually paying attention to their content? Are they just super popular? Do they have a bunch of friends? Or are people actually getting value out of their content?
What would you say are some other good things when it comes to engagement to look for Alex?
Alex: Yes. I think one thing to note here is like who's tagging other people. And this is where saves and sends matter too, unfortunately, can't see those, just looking at somebody's account.
So before you work with them, it's good to just get like a screenshot of maybe like their last post or something.
But if you see of people commenting and tagging their friends, that's indicative not only of like a better reach, right? Because they're bringing in people who might not even follow the person in a very organic way, that's a high return value.
Because it's a friend tagging somebody else or a family member or something saying like we got to go here. That's almost a surefire way of establishing those people are probably going to go here. It might not be tomorrow, or this week.
But it's on their radar; they're tagging each other. That's way more important than another influencer commenting on the post and saying, this looks good, right? And anybody at a certain size.
Like a lot of my comments are like other food accounts or other people saying this looks good. But where you really see that return is in terms of like what I call like civilians. Like the real people who are engaging with it, leaving those longer comments.
Especially because, for my content personally, I've been a lot more political, I've been a lot more vocal about like social issues and societal issues in my content lately, not just-food.
And so that's producing some more interesting responses from sort of followers that maybe lurked in the background before. And so, how engaging is the content you're creating? Are you just saying what's in the picture?
Because that's not going to be, if your influencer that you're working with is doing what a robot could do, that's not super useful. But if the influencer you're working with is bringing value to what you produce, to your product, and then bringing value to the people that follow them, who engage with it and have conversation or care about the topic.
That's ultimately where you make dollars, right? So looking at the quality of what that engagement is if people are responding to the content at all, or just trying to get people to follow them by commenting, right? So those are some things that I look for.
INFI: Alex, are there other social media platforms that food influencers are pretty prevalent on?
Alex: There's a lot more on Tik-Tok now, but the problem with Tik-Tok is it doesn't give you the call to action as strongly. So you're seeing food influencers that have taken years to grow to 20-30k on Instagram, suddenly with five.
I have a friend who just hit 500k on Tik-Tok, and he's been there a few months. Wow, so how do you leverage that to market, is like sort of a new thing. But you're seeing a lot of food influencers hop over to Tik-Tok for sure.
Question: Okay, right on. Would you say Instagram is more reliable or proven of a platform in terms of generating traffic?
Alex: 100%, yes. It is more proven in terms of measuring, in terms of like metrics on what's happening. It's already sort of a gray area, right? Because you can't prove that somebody looked at your post, didn't do anything with it, but then bought something, that's impossible to prove.
So the fact that Instagram happens to have more metrics, and we understand more about what those metrics mean in terms of if somebody's maybe going to make a purchase. Is more useful than like oh, 40,000 people liked a Tik-Tok video, right?
What does that mean? Like, is that a bunch of Gen Zers who aren't making purchases anyway. Like how do you market things in Tik-Tok is different.
You're not geo-tagging; a lot of brands might not even have a Tik-Tok account to tag, what's the call to action, right? How do you show that somebody liked the video that they thought was funny, and then went and bought whatever brand of Oreos, right?
Like tying the connections of the actual result of Tik-Tok is harder, so we don't know, and that's what makes Instagram. Instagram is a little bit more reliable.
INFI: Okay, interesting. And then these two stats I got here, talking about the age range of Instagram users. You know it's rising in terms of 25 to 34-year-olds, people who are considered millennial.
And it's also been described as a platform that is very well geared towards reaching older-gen zers as well. Would you say you've noticed that trend with your audience as well?
Alex: Yes. I think more Gen Zers are sort of establishing a stronger online presence. As they're getting a little bit, like old enough to actually care about things a little bit more.
And like they're not just playing games on their phone they're maybe having more of a social life and they're going more places, they're doing more things. And that certainly makes them a super valuable market for a food influencer, for a restaurant, or something like that.
Because maybe they have a date night coming up at their prom date, and they want to, you know, go to a nice restaurant. Like that you start seeing as that generation ages, you start seeing the value. They start seeing the value of the platforms, and we start seeing the value of that segment.