Le blog de Malou : Influencer Marketing Food et visibilité pour les restaurants

Malou's Blog

Influencers: the New Kings of Restaurant Marketing

8 young people out of 10 claim they’ve already discovered a product via an influencer. These days, influencers increasingly shape young people’s consumption habits. If the first few made their name in the realm of beauty and fashion, a number of them share their daily food intake, whether it was cooked at home or enjoyed at a restaurant they liked and now recommend.

Influenceur food restaurant

The power of persuasion that influencers wield, as well as the value they bring to a restaurant’s communications strategy seem evident. More accessible than food critics, more authentic than ads broadcast by the media—have influencers become the new kings of culinary press relations? Or are they the fruit of a fleeting and fragile trend? How can restaurant owners separate real from fake influencers? How do they collaborate with them? What are the limits of these collaborations? Read our analysis to find answers to all these questions.

1. Who are influencers?

Someone with an audience that trusts them

An influencer is first and foremost an individual who’s gathered an audience of a few thousand people on one or more social media platforms and shares with their followers their a slice of their everyday life.

Some influencers focus on a specific theme (beauty, fashion, travel, food, sport…), while others branch out to become “lifestyle” influencers. Margot from the Youmakefashion blog began by talking about her first love, fashion (with almost 250,000 followers on Instagram). She then launched a second account, this time documenting her nutritional rebalancing, in which she shares her recipes, dishes, fitness routines, but also talks about her travels and the latest restaurants she’s visited.

restaurant test influenceur malou

Images, videos, articles, and even podcasts: influencers have many different platforms of expression. Food influencers favor photos and videos to highlight “foodporn” content,” and tend to prefer Instagram to publish their content.

The difference between an “influencer” and someone who’s simply active on social media is that the influencer has build a real audience that follows them and listens to them for content or advice, with whom they’ve cultivated a sense of trust and use their power of persuasion.

Three categories of influencers

Celebrities: they’re influencers who’ve already gathered several hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of followers. Exhibiting their lives on social media is their full-time job; they make a living out of it, and are in general managed by agencies. Contacting them is difficult, and they typically only accept offers if they’re paid for their posts.

Mid-tier influencers: they have between dozens or hundreds of thousands of followers. In general, their engagement rate per post amounts to 3 to 10 percent. They’re more accessible than the first category of influencers, and can eventually ask for financial compensation for a collaboration.

Micro-influencers: with an audience of between thousands and dozens of thousands of followers, they can generate strong engagement rates, but mostly enjoy a strong audience growth rate. They tend not to ask for pay but for other advantages in kind. Spotting the most promising micro-influencers can often guarantee the best return on investment.

2. What point is there for a restaurant to collaborate with influencers?

Gaining visibility

Having influencers come to your restaurant is a way to gain traction on social media and to make it known to more people. Today, some users see an influencer as 92 percent more credible than a brand. Their posts are 24 times more likely to generate engagement on social media. By sharing their experience in a restaurant in “stories”—short and short-lived videos or photos where they give their followers a glimpse of a restaurant’s decoration, products, menu, and even backstage in the kitchen—influencers can offer restaurants a consequential platform to be seen, but most importantly allow them to win over their audience’s trust more easily.

Below is an example of what these stories can look like from the account of Paris street-food specialist Foodease showcasing the restaurant BMK:

influencer food restaurant story

Recently, Instagram added a feature called “Highlights” which made it possible to add permanent links to stories to your profile. Content that was previously short-lived can now be preserved, filtered, and pinned to an Instagram profile. Some influencers allot a “highlight” to a single restaurant, while others sort their highlights by category or location.

Widening a restaurant’s audience

Stories and posts published by influencers can increase a restaurant’s reach on social media. In the wake of an influencer event we organized for the one-month anniversary of Pizzou, Paris’s new 100 percent Made in France pizzeria, the restaurant tripled its weekly audience:

Increasing revenue

Influencers wield a real power of recommendation. If they liked a restaurant, they will promote it to their audience. Pizzou organized an event for influencers to discover the restaurant, learn about its history, and taste its products and one-of-a-kind pizzas. The event took place on a Tuesday, one month after the official opening. The day after, Pizzou registered its biggest revenue since it opened (Fridays and weekends included), whereas “Wednesday evening is usually a calm shift,” as Vivien, one of the co-founders, tells us.

Creating content for a low price

Influencers are usually good at photography and taking videos. They’re capable of producing high-quality content that they share on social media and that the restaurant can then re-share on their own accounts.

3. When is a good time to collaborate with influencers?

The opening of a restaurant

To announce the opening of a restaurant, press relations are essential (article to come), but today, they’re worthwhile only if when combined with “influencer relations.”. La Felicità, the latest giant from the people behind Big Mamma, opened its doors to the public on May 26, but dedicated the preceding two days to welcoming journalists and influencers.

A change or new offer

Influencers can communicate about the launch of a new offer. The Westminster Hotel spread the news about its new pastries and tea-time service with the help of Instagram influencers. The burger chain PNY, which is quite communication-savvy, regularly collaborates with influencers to talk about the new things happening at their restaurants (often with an offbeat sense of humor, much as their stunt for the 50-year anniversary of McDonald’s Big Mac).

(Translation: “The Big Mac is celebrating its 50th birthday. For the occasion, @pnyburger has a new Tribute burger, definitely better than the original.”)

The creation of an exclusive offer in collaboration with the influencer

Influencers can go beyond simply trying a restaurant and talking about it on social media; they can collaborate with the restaurant to create a dish, a recipe, or a limited offer with their name attached. In January 2018, Roomies, a new gourmet burger place, collaborated with Charlotte from The Food Spy to create “the burger of the month.” She designed the recipe for the burger, but also communicated about the new menu item on social media, which allowed Roomies to widen its audience and have customers come in to try out the “PariswithCharlotte Burger.”

Continual collaborations to keep up a restaurant’s visibility

Paris New York Hamburgers  or the Big Mamma restaurants regularly invite influencers throughout the year to share videos or photos of the food and as a result ensure their restaurant’s continued online visibility.

4. How to pick the best influencers

Quantitative indicators

The number of followers is the first (and easiest) criteria to spot. We talk about an influencer starting at a few thousand followers.

The second number to look at is the average engagement rate generated on posts, which takes into account every form of interaction a user can have on published content: likes, comments, shares, clicks, as well as instances of the restaurant being tagged on social media. Not all interactions have the same value: a post being shared is the sign of stronger engagement than a simple “like.”

Qualitative indicators

It’s important to understand with precision which themes the influencer gravitates toward, their editorial policy, and the way in which they communicate with their followers. Inviting a vegan influencer to a restaurant serving meat and cheese, or a gluten-free one to a restaurant with no corresponding item on the menu, are examples of obvious mistakes to avoid.

The location of the influencer’s audience should also be taken into account: an influencer with 200,000 followers living mostly abroad or in the country wouldn’t be of much help for a Parisian restaurant.

Finally, the quality of an influencer’s followers is vital: is an influencer reaching the right audience targeted by the restaurant (age group, socio-economic profile, location, interests…)? One of the criteria to look for is what kind of interactions each post triggers: are they numerous, of good quality? If the majority of comments consists of emojis or short messages (of the “cool pics” or “great feed” variety), it’s likely they were left by robots and the influencer doesn’t have a real audience but resorted to hacks to acquire new followers (article to come).

Another important criteria: are there pictures of food in an influencer’s feed? An influencer may have a real audience that follows and trusts them, but if they’re not used to posting about food, they may only do a story in the best case scenario, and the added value for restaurant owners will be lower. Nina, from the Callmevoyou account, regularly posts food content with recipes she tries or restaurants she tries out.

5. How do restaurants collaborate with them?

Restaurants have to offer real added value to influencers for them to want to collaborate: trying out an original, generous, gourmet type of cooking, discovering a nice place, talking about themes that their audience can relate to, or going even further by suggesting they invite one or more of their followers.

Taking a lot of care when initializing contact

Before thinking of how to collaborate with an influencer, it’s important to have figured out their taste, the last restaurants they tried and liked, as well as what their community seems to appreciate. “Lower-tier” influencers can be contacted via private messages on Instagram, but it is more professional to send an invitation, a press release, or press kit by email.

Having influencers over one-on-one or inviting them to an event

Invitation can be personalized. Usually, they’re (graciously) invited to try a restaurant with a +1. Still, organizing an entire event can have a much more important local and media impact. It’s essential, then, to invite groups of influencers who know each other already and like each other, but also to pick the best format for the event (seating charts can quickly become conundrums and put at risk the entire atmosphere).

To compensate financially or in kind?

When it’s about simply trying a restaurant, most influencers do not ask to be paid. However, if the restaurant owner clearly expects more work from the influencer, like a video montage or an article with edited pictures, an influencer can ask to be compensated financially (after all, all work deserves payment).

Offering added value with contests

An efficient way to collaborate with an influencer is to organize a contest. The influencer invites their audience to come forward in one of their posts, usually by tagging one of their friends to enter a draw (and eventually following the account of the restaurant on social media). The benefit is twofold:: the influencer offers real value to their followers by allowing them to win an invitation to a restaurant, while restaurant owners increase their visibility with the contest.

Using an agency?

The staff, if it’s social media-inclined, can of course take care of inviting influencers from time to time. However, identifying the best influencers, building a relationship with them, organizing entire events, reusing content, analyzing the media impact… all of this demands time which cannot be allocated at the cost of restaurant work and the care taken to serve customers. To carry out a real influencer marketing strategy, expand a restaurant’s visibility, and increase revenue, we recommend restaurants work with agency.

6. What are the limits of influencer marketing?

Authentic or sponsored content?

Passionate influencers will continue to discover new restaurants on their own. Others lose their credibility and only frequent places which invite them or pay them to come. It’s important to identify those who continue to share authentic content and thus preserve the bond of trust they’ve build with their followers.

Beware of “fake” influencers

There are influencers who boast of very high follower counts which turn out to be bogus. Indeed, it’s possible to use different types of softwares or robots (which people often have to pay for) to grow one’s audience with “fake followers.” You can read another article on the subject on Malou’s blog.

Hotel Restaurants : How to Promote your Hotel Restaurant and Increase Your Sales

How many people would think about booking a table for lunch or dinner at a hotel restaurant when they’re not staying at the hotel? Not very many. This is precisely what’s at stake for hotel restaurants looking to fill their tables.

Hotel restaurants are first and foremost restaurants. They offer the same service as their autonomous counterparts: a kitchen, food, a seating room, and a staff. We talked to experts, hotel managers, and restaurant supervisors for hotel groups to better understand the issues of the trade and the measures taken to respond to them.

Everyone in the business is of one mind : hotel restaurants operate at a far lower rate than their seating capacity

Hotel restaurants struggle to attract customers who aren’t hotel guests

At first glance, it’s easy to think that hotel restaurants have a head start over other restaurants—they come in with a ready clientele staying right above. Research has shown that hotels with 63% of their rooms booked will be able to fill ⅓ of the restaurant’s tables with those very same customers. An occupancy rate of 30% guaranteed by hotel guests doesn’t sound so bad. Save for the fact that ⅔ of the restaurant remains to be filled. To get there, hotel restaurants will have to target non-guest customers.

This is where things get tricky: having lunch or dinner inside a hotel isn’t yet part of the customs for the general population. Most people don’t think about it because they don’t see the restaurant independently from the hotel.

It proves even more complicated for hotel restaurants to bring in outside customers as they’re usually not visible as restaurants, but as “a part” of a hotel.

A lack of identity separate from the hotel puts hotel restaurants at a disadvantage

A restaurant with the same name as the hotel that houses it exists only as a “feature” of that hotel. This explains why potential customers aren’t even aware of hotel restaurants in themselves, and don’t think about them when looking for places to eat. But this initial observation isn’t a death sentence, and many hotel restaurants across the Atlantic manage to reach very satisfying occupancy rates while keeping the name of the hotel and adding unique epithets for the restaurant.

This is the case for Standard Grill, the Standard Hotel’s restaurant, which managed to take advantage of the hotel’s reputation to open its doors to customers from other horizons.

Others go even further and turn the hotel’s restaurant into a brand in itself.

Creating and tapping into a strong brand identity can mean a bright growth potential for hotel restaurants

Some hotels have pushed the strategy to the point where they turned their restaurant into real profit centers. The Barrière Group, responsible for the Fouquet’s brand, now welcomes on a daily basis diners eager to eat at Fouquet’s, not at "the Barrière Hotel’s restaurant." “The Fouquet’s brand was created with the goal of reinforcing our restaurants’ image to attract more customers outside of hotel guests,” Pierre-Louis Renou, manager of the Cannes establishments, tells us. The group succeeded in building such a strong restaurant brand that people have stopped associating it with the parent hotels.

Other hotels manage to negotiate exclusive deals to house atypical or in-demand restaurants still rare on the market. In New York, the Parker is now home to the sole location of the Burger Joint brand. The “burger joint” is located behind a curtain in the main hall of the hotel, and boasts a unique decor (with customers’ testimonials on the wall), its own website, and its own social media accounts. The concept is showcased both in situ and online, and it works: expect an average waiting time of one hour every day to taste a burger!

Hotel restaurants have their own unique features

According to the hotel they’re in, their location, their product line, some restaurants have a more urgent need to bring in outside customers than others. Olivier Clerc, Restaurant Operations Director for the Grape Hospitality group, tells us that hotels close to business centers (where companies lack an office cafeteria) host many business lunches, but struggle more with weekend shifts.

Hotels located near offices with cafeterias don’t often succeed in attracting individuals for the lunch shift, but manage to get more satisfying turnover rates in the evening with hotel guests.

For others, we can also highlight how season patterns impact hotel restaurants. Anthony Torkington, former general manager at the Saint James Hotel in Bouliac, tells us that the Saint James’s restaurant in Bouliac attracts enough customers in the winter to generate a satisfying revenue on lunches. In the summer however, evenings work better thanks to the summer specials they developed, the longer days, and an outdoor terrace with a panoramic view of Bordeaux.

We spoke to specialists in order to identify the best initiatives for hotel restaurants to attract customers in the right areas.

Promoting a hotel restaurant: taking physical and digital steps helps improve turnover rates

Giving the restaurant a proper identity is the first step in making sure it is viable

To attract customers who aren’t hotel guests, a hotel restaurant is already ahead if it has a proper identity—a name, distinct from the hotel, a logo, a chef, a website. The restaurant has to be visible physically and online as a separate entity in and of itself.

That was Grape Hospitality’s wager with Happy Dock, the restaurant housed by the Mercure Hotel in Le Havre. The place was refurbished, the menu redesigned by Sophie Menut, the chef at the helm of the kitchen. Today, the restaurant has its own website, and appears as a restaurant in its own right:

The Hoxton Grill in London’s Hoxton Hotel preserved the already famous Hoxton brand, and followed the model of the Standard in New York:

Once its proper identity established, the restaurant has to be promoted and to that end use the right cost-effective online marketing tools.

Communicating not as a hotel feature but as a restaurant strengthens the establishment’s online presence

80% of people look up restaurants online. They have to be able to see, right next to independent restaurants, suggestions of hotel restaurants welcoming customers who aren’t guests at the hotel.

To that end, restaurants have to be listed online independently from their hotel. Good organic SEO, a smart online communications strategy, a website, and independent Facebook and Instagram accounts are necessary to boost the restaurant’s visibility.

This is what the Hoxton Grill in London’s Hoxton Hotel did on Instagram:

A good social media strategy is a way to reach more potential customers, but we also recommend focusing on having strong local roots to widen turnover rates.

Developing strong local roots is a way to promote the restaurant to those most likely to become loyal customers

Consumers trust products as long as they know where they come from. Working with local growers and producers means getting closer to customers. The Saint James in Bouliac picked that method for the dishes on its menu, but it also went further.

The Saint James in Bouliac created the "Saint James Market." Four times a year, on a Sunday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., the hotel invites local growers (who supply the restaurant’s kitchen) to sell their products to the public. About 1100 people come every time. The goal of the seasonal market is, as Anthony Torkington relates, is to attract and entice Bordeaux residents to come have lunch or dinner in hotel restaurants: “We highlighted this type of events to promote the establishments and get people talking about them in a different light.

Developing strong local roots can also take the form of astute diversification to highlight specific services and improve the restaurant’s renown.

Diversifying the smart way: by capitalizing on their strengths and proximity to hotels, hotel restaurants have the potential to become drop-in “third places”

Introducing new activities associated with the hotel’s restaurant is a way to attract a new customer base

Diversification is a way for hotel restaurants to take advantage of their strengths, namely how close they are to a hotel and all of its amenities. Indeed, as Olivier Clerc points out, “We have to inject life into hotel restaurants, these days we live in a world where everything is modernized, and we have an obligation to go out and get customers from outside of the hotel.” By capitalizing on these assets, hotel restaurants can organize special events and bring in new people inside their walls. Grape Hospitality’s restaurants took some interesting initiatives in that regard.

Once a month, the Mercure Hotel in Roissy sets up an exhibition by volunteer artists, with a gallery opening to boot, which attracts new people to the hotel, and is also a chance to sell beverages and various meats and cheeses, either at the bar or in the hotel.

By taking advantage of the existing hotel structures, the restaurant can develop a range of products aimed at customers outside of the hotel

Hotels usually serve breakfasts which more or less resemble what a brunch would look like (eggs, cheese, charcuterie etc.). Starting with the advantages they already had, the Amour Hotel and the Marriott Champs Élysées developed a brunch offer to attract customers outside the hotel. One way to promote their new diversified offer was to collaborate with influencers.

Two of them, pia_mbd and callmevoyou were invited to try the brunch and share their experience on their social media accounts. Their audience, for the most part young, urban, and for whom brunch is a fact of life, was able to discover the hotel restaurant’s new offer.

One of the oldest English traditions is the afternoon tea, and it is more than renowned in London: in some of the most beautiful hotels such as the Ritz London, one has to wait several months for a seat a one of its tables set for tea. The tradition has since crossed the pond and hotels in Paris seized the opportunity to fill their salons and generate new avenues for revenue. Indeed, hotels like the Shangri La or the Westminster Hotel have developed a “Tea Time” service catering to a younger audience, and resorted to influencers to promote it.

Another example of smart diversification: Olivier Thomas, director of the Blagnac Pullman near Toulouse, saw that the restaurant’s lunch revenue was seriously impeded by the proximity of a number of office cafeterias. The simple lunch menu wasn’t enough to attract the surrounding business crowd. Seeing this, Olivier Thomas developed a special menu with real added value and a competitive edge: “packages,” or lunch formulas to which he added a pass granting access to the pool, a massage, or a sports class within the hotel.

Going beyond with a strong concept grants hotel restaurants a new appeal

Still at Grape Hospitality, the Mercure in Sophia Antipolis took in a restaurant with quite a strong concept: “In the Dark. Dinner is served in pitch-black darkness by nonseeing people. The experience goes beyond the simple meal; senses are thrown. Deprived from their sight, customers are invited to re-evaluate their perception of taste. This buzzworthy initiative was a way to promote both the hotel and the restaurant, and to bring in a new audience. The success was such that the collaboration was renewed.

We would like to kindly thank the hotel restaurant professionals who took the time to answer our questions:

Pierre-Louis Renou, Area General Manager for the Barrière Group in Cannes. He manages three hotels: the Majestic Cannes, the Gray d’Albion Cannes, and the Carl Gustaf St Barth.

Anthony Torkington, former General Manager at the Saint James in Bouliac. He was just named new General Director of Relais & Châteaux.

Olivier Clerc, Director of Restaurant Operations at Grape Hospitality. Launched in 2017, Grape Hospitality is the owner, operator, and manager of 85 hotels in 8 European countries, which represents over 9000 rooms operated under a franchise contract.

Burger King: the Communication Secrets Behind the Restaurant’s Triumphant Return in France

Monday, December 16, 2013. That date marked the return of Burger King in Paris. Four years later, the chain counts over 208 restaurants in the country. To what can we attribute this success?

A well-honed sense of humor, playful nods at the competition, a cultivated sense of proximity with their customers... With all these tools, Burger King has managed to find its place in the French fast-food landscape, and then some: the chain has been experiencing a double-digit growth rate since its return, and is aiming for 2 billion euros in revenue in France for 2020.

The fast-food chain’s success can be explained in large part by the communication strategy designed by the king of burgers which relies on humor, a balance between digital and street marketing, and a real “focus on social media,” as Marine Dupas, the group’s marketing director, confides. Let’s roll the tape on this success story.

A long-awaited and carefully planned comeback in France

July 1997: Burger King leaves France. The roll-out of the chain in France hasn’t been a success. The economy of scale isn’t enough and the restaurants aren’t profitable.

November 2012: A press release announces the return of Burger King in France. The company is kicking things off slowly: a restaurant at the airport in Marseille, then a second one in partnership with the Autogrill group on a highway rest stop near Reims.

Monday, December 16, 2013: The opening of Burger King Saint-Lazare kicks off a series of new restaurant openings. Twitter ignites and Burger King manages to keep the fire alive.

An ingenious balance between street and digital marketing exploits the perception of rarity

As Marine Dupas tells us, “the brand has often used this perception of how few Burger Kings there are in the country” to create buzz. The method is similar for every new opening.

The announcement of a new restaurant opening is made both online and in situ. Three months before the opening, the chain sets up big heavy-duty signs to let everyone know about the upcoming opening—always with a little joke.

(Translation: “Soon here: BURGER KING. You’ll soon have a good reason to turn left.”)

Burger King has turned its construction sites into powerful communication tools. The company also prints out tweets by its customers with a surprising or funny response on construction tarps. People passing by can have a laugh, it’s shared online, and the brand continues to get people talking.

(Translation: “Whenever there’s a burger king (sic) in Lille ill buy you all a menu,remember that” / “Dear @vanoukia, luckily no one thought of printing your tweet on a tarp.”)

(Translation: “Yo it’s not even 12 burger king’s packed open other restaurants” / “Hey @mroymusic, to make you happy we’re opening one here, C?”)

A communication strategy with strong local roots to attract more customers to the restaurants

At Burger King, a team within the marketing and communications department is dedicated exclusively to speeding up local activity: the team manages the openings and works to increase each restaurant’s visibility in their respective area.

Before every opening, the team shares a “local post,” something related to the news of the region on Facebook and Twitter. They’re “dark posts,” meaning they’re not visible on Burger King France’s national pages, but will be to users who are located in the area of a new restaurant (within a 40km radius).

Users who see the post can then sign up on a side page and receive an invitation with a free menu offered. “This process isn’t systematic, but works very well,” Marine explains.

A cultivated and well-displayed bond with its customers to generate buzz

Burger King entertains such an intense proximity with its customers that for Christmas—wait for it—he company offered its best fan on Facebook one of its restaurants!

(“To our biggest fan, Merry Christmas, Sullyvan.”)

As a reward for his loyalty, Burger King offered its most active fan on social media his own restaurant, with a reserved parking spot, a table named after him, one year of free burgers in every Burger King in the world…

The stunt was presented in a video that surpassed 60,000 views on YouTube and served the company’s name well.

At the heart of a media strategy to maximize brand awareness: social media

Burger King uses every social media platform differently to make the most of each. But one principle is constant throughout: “a strong brand personality; always a bit of arrogance and irony to not take ourselves too seriously.”

Twitter is used to mark the tone of the brand, both online by interacting with followers and on the street by printing out tweets and funny responses on construction site panels.

“On Instagram, users are the ones driving the Burger King account.” Indeed, the company mostly counts on User Generated Content as it regrams (or shares) content created by Instagram users. Not only does this considerably lowers the cost of content creation, it’s also a way to generate even more user engagement on the platform.

On Facebook, Burger King uses a very different strategy from McDonald’s, whose Facebook page is used to share information and managed by a very active community manager who answers comments and has a functional purpose they fill with humor.

At Burger King, the thing that matters most if user engagement. Most posts give incentives like free burgers or the title of “King or Queen of Burger King” to make people like the post and leave comments.

“Social media allows us to create a real and engaged community, to turn our followers into brand ambassadors,” Marine Dupas tells us. Community managers don’t answer every comment, “only pertinent comments where they feel they can make an impression with the tone of the brand.”

Burger King thus continues its expansion in France with a powerful communication strategy, strong local roots, and a clever use of social media. From now until 2020, every Quick restaurant will have become Burger Kings.

15 Practical Tips to Market your Restaurant on Instagram

With over 600 million active users every month and 95 million posts published every day, Instagram’s success has nothing left to prove. The social media platform has become more than essential to boost businesses’ online visibility. And it has become even more of a key player for restaurants: food is people’s third favorite type of content on Instagram.

Instagram isn’t difficult to use, but it’s best to follow a few guidelines to make the most of what the platform has to offer. Here are a few tips and tricks to take your restaurant’s Instagram account to the next level, reach a new audience of potential customers, and convert them to real ones.

1) Create a business and restaurant account

The first step is obviously to get your restaurant on Instagram. Once you’ve created an account, the only thing you have to do is go to your Profile, click on Settings and Account, check the “Switch to Business Profile” option, and fill the required information.

You’ll then be able to access your account’s statistics (number of views, number of profile views following a post, number of clicks…).

Make sure your restaurant is easily identifiable: your username has to match the name of your restaurant, or at least be coherent with your concept, so people can readily find you. Keep your profile public so that people who don’t follow you can also see your posts (and be compelled to follow you!). Remember to put up all the important information in your bio, namely the restaurant’s phone number, address, and opening hours, as well as a link to your website.

To this day, 8 million businesses have already created dedicated Instagram accounts, a number which confirms how well professionals have embraced the platform. The next step for beginners would be to learn how to use it efficiently to reach their goals.

2) Publish scrumptious photos that’ll make your followers hungry

Instagram is by far the most visual social media platform: its raison d’être was to allow people to publish quality pictures with the filters available on their phone. It is more and more routine for restaurants to make a name for themselves and build their reputation on Instagram. Visual content being more appreciated than textual content, be sure to publish beautiful, appetizing photos on your account that will easily generate engagement.

New York City’s most famous deli restaurant, Katz’s Delicatessen, regularly shares “food porn” photos highlighting the mouth-watering quality of their sandwiches. And it works: these types of posts often get them over 3,000 likes.

3) Settle on a singular visual identity to shape your online presence

Using the same filter for your published content will lend a harmonious and aesthetic effect to your feed. Continuity in your editorial policy is key. In your posts, make sure your logo appears and feel free to appropriate a few words or expressions that’ll set you apart. This is how your restaurant will be recognized: you’re building a brand identity for your restaurant, a strategy that Pizza Loves Emily in New York has applied very effectively:

4) Engage with your followers to build a relationship with them

It is paramount to interact with your followers and with other Instagram users to build a relationship with them. Find out what your audience’s interests are, what your followers like, their go-to spots, the accounts they follow… and use all that information in your interactions with them. Reply to all their messages and leave comments on their photos to show your interest. But don’t be too pushy—you don’t want to run the risk of being seen as a spam account.

5) Encourage your customers to publish content themselves

Finding a way to incite your followers and customers to publish their own content of your restaurant is a good way for you to get free advertising. That’s what is called UGC (user-generated content), content that is created and shared by customers, a way to spread more photos of your restaurant with a lesser cost and generate engagement with your customers who will be pleased to see their posts published on your account.

Paris New York favors UGC on Instagram, which has proved to be quite a good strategy for them. The burger restaurant set up a space in its bathroom entirely dedicated to the taking of selfies:

Burger King also encourages Instagram users to publish photos of their burgers. The chain account then relies on “regrams” to fill its feed:

6) Publish entertaining and appetizing content

Post pictures of your dishes that’ll have your followers mouth-watering by making it seem as though they can just taste the food through the screen. That’s all there is to food porn! Describe it with specifics: the taste, smell, texture… Feel free to use humor, to be entertaining: content that makes people smile or laugh is always more successful. Big Mamma manages to bring together food porn and humor, and generates excellent engagement rates on all its posts:

7) Use current events to publish pertinent content

The calendar year provides many opportunities to share timely content with your followers. You can extend your best wishes after the new year, during the holiday season, celebrate Mother’s Day, Halloween, Easter… Spot all the dates you can use and think up creative ideas for posts that will make your followers smile and create engagement. Our advice is also to share your own milestones with them: your chef has won an award, your restaurant celebrates an anniversary, you were talked about on the news… Use all the interactive channels at your disposal to communicate with them about these events and maintain a close link with your customer base.

8) Share videos

Videos generate good engagement rates and reach a wider audience. Why not show what’s going on in the kitchen, in the restaurant, or on your plates?

A “food porn” video shared by Benedict in Paris was viewed over 3,000 times:

Instagram’s story feature is a good tool to increase your visibility on the platform. Stories allow you to promote your storytelling strategy by communicating more directly with your customers. Whenever your restaurant is tagged in one of your customers’ stories, feel free to repost it on your own account with proper credits. That way, you can relate to your followers that an influencer, or even just a happy customer, has come to eat at your restaurant. Reposts of this kind are a token of trust for potential new customers—don’t forget to use them!

9) Organize contests to widen your reach

Contests can quickly increase your follower count and your restaurant’s online visibility. Our tip for contest guidelines is to make contestants like your post, follow your account, and tag friends in their comments. If the prize is appetizing enough, you can also ask that they share your post with a unique hashtag. Signature Restaurant in Algiers often uses contests to boost its visibility:

10) Use the right hashtags to maximize your visibility

Hashtags are a way for Instagram’s algorithms to better index and highlight your content so new users can see it. Be careful to use the most used hashtags to maximize your visibility! As an example, the hashtag #burger is used three times as often as #burgers; it is consequently wiser for you to use the first hashtag:

Here are a few of the most popular hashtags on Instagram:

#food: 260 million posts
#foodporn: 150 million posts
#yummy: 110 million posts
#instafood: 107 million posts

The food guide Le Fooding gives Instagram users the chance to be regrammed and thus be seen by thousands of people. To that end, you have tag the media outlet twice in your post, with a hashtag (#lefooding) and a mention (@lefooding). Paris restaurant Draco had one of its truffle pizza regrammed:

11) Create your own hashtag to track your restaurant's progress

Having a unique hashtag for your restaurant allows you to track your standing on Instagram. Paris New York uses that strategy with the singular hashtag #mercreditoilettes (#wednesdayrestroom):

12) Share behind the scenes content with your followers

In addition to photos of food, feel free to share content from backstage. Introduce the members of the team, highlight their personality, share anecdotes, pictures of the kitchen staff in action… It’s important for your customers to see everything that goes into preparing their food, and it can be gratifying for your team to be recognized. You may run a business account, but there are human beings behind all aspects of your restaurant!

The pizzeria Bianco often shares content featuring staff members. For Christmas, they highlighted members of the team with a lot of humor to boot:

13) Share news and up-to-date promotions to keep your customers coming back

Publish content about special deals, promotions and events: they’re a perfect way to attract customers to your restaurant.

14) Add emojis to boost your posts’ engagement rate

Emojis allow you to improve how well your posts generate engagement. They’re also a way to appear more sympathetic, and to build a closer bond with your followers. We recommend you use the knife and fork, sushi, burger, and pizza emojis that are very popular:

The influencer @stuffbeneats (40,000 followers) uses several emojis in his captions, and generates an average engagement rate of 7% on his posts, which is an excellent rate with an audience of this size.

15) Collaborate with influencers

A smart collaboration with an influencer can boost your restaurant’s online visibility. For a collaboration to be effective, you have to pick your influencers carefully: the menu and spirit of your restaurant have to be in line with the type of content published by the influencer.

Le Dersou recently collaborated with @lefrenchfood (19,600 followers on Instagram), who shared a photo of one of their dishes on his account:

You can even go further, like Roomies Burger who collaborated with @PariswithCharlotte to create a limited edition “PariswithCharlotte” burger:

Another influencer, Stéphanie Guillemette, organizes regular brunches with SLOE (but not exclusively), and takes care of promoting them ahead of time to fill the restaurant’s tables.

The Top 14 Search Engines, Websites, and Apps to List Your Restaurant Online

Today 8 Americans out of 10 are choosing or checking restaurants online. You need to be listed in all the relevant platforms to attract new customers.

Restaurants need to have a strong online visibility to get new customers. Below are the top 14 platforms where you should be listed to increase your sales:

1. Google: the importance of local SEO

On average, 9 billion Internet searches are made on Google each day. Whenever someone searches for a restaurant online, Google will suggest the most relevant results based on their search criteria and location. The first page of results will include 3 local businesses on a map and a series of links deemed relevant by Google - generally the first links come from TripAdvisor, Yelp or media articles.

The most effective way to attract customers in your establishment? Get a spot in the top 3 displayed on Google Maps. To achieve this, you must first create a Google My Business profile if it does not exist and regularly update it with quality content, by sharing publications, adding photos, responding to comments.  The optimizations we made for Bask, a tapas restaurant in San Francisco, allowed the restaurant to get 57,000 views and get in the top 3 Google search results for its most strategic queries.

Creating and optimizing your listing on Bing and Yahoo is also useful - even if they are much less used than Google (respectively 3.4% and 1.8% of requests). Appearing in the first results in their Google My Business equivalents (Bing Places and Yahoo Local) reinforces your visibility as well.

2. TripAdvisor: the n°1 travel site

The platform registered 315 million unique visitors per month in 2015 and 200 million reviews. Available as a mobile app or website, TripAdvisor allows you to specify your search with criteria: neighborhood, type of food, price range, specific diet etc. The application uses geolocation to suggest nearby establishments to users.

The more complete a listing is (pictures, descriptions, attributes, number of important notices, comments with answers etc.), the more the TripAdvisor algorithm will push the establishment among the first research results. In the U.S., nearly 90,000 food establishments are already listed. Another reason it is useful to be visible on TripAdvisor is because the pages of the website are well referenced on search engines. For example, if you have an Indian restaurant in New York, when someone searches for an Indian restaurant, under the top 3 Google results, links to TripAdvisor and Yelp pages featuring "The Best Indian Restaurants in New York City" will appear. Appearing at the top of these specific rankings will inevitably attract new customers.

The most effective solution is to appear even higher among the first 3 results suggested by Google. The Maharajah in Paris, France, with whom we work, ranks today in the 1st position for the request "Indian restaurant" in Paris, which is a great way to attract new customers directly.

3. Yelp: The leading service industry social network in the U.S.

With geolocation, Yelp can suggest shops, restaurants, cafes and bars nearby. The search criteria are similar to those of TripAdvisor and The Fork; nevertheless Yelp also looks like a social network. It is indeed possible to "check in" in establishments as one would on Facebook and "follow" friends or users to discover their favorite establishments or those they advise against.

4. Bing: Places for Business

Being one of the top search engines, every month over 150 million users search for local businesses and services on Bing, and many of these people are looking for great places to eat. If people aren’t searching on Google, chances are they’re searching for your restaurant on Bing.

5. Allmenus: The menu listing platform

People need to look at the restaurant menu before they decide to dine in or to order. Every month, over 550,000 people visit Allmenus to make their choice. It is one of the most comprehensive restaurant and food delivery guide with over 255,000 menus. This menu-oriented directory includes listings for hundreds of thousands of restaurants, and it is searched by millions of people each month. Plus, your Allmenus listing will also appear on other top search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.

6. CitySquares: The partner for local businesses

Founded 13 years ago, CitySquares champions itself as a partner for local, independently owned businesses, including restaurants. With over 700,000 visitors, CitySquares is one of the most influential website to list your restaurant. It also markets itself as an outlet to help businesses gain exposure across the web. Think of this directory as very “hyper-local”. It is an ideal listing spot for eateries looking to draw drop-in traffic.

7. Foursquare: The social media app to choose a restaurant

With over 50 million active user per month, not only is Foursquare a popular directory for restaurants, it is a popular social networking website, too, easily connecting to your Twitter handle. Guests can check in and comment on your restaurant, and this level of interaction makes them feel like they’re already at the table. Over 1.9 million businesses have already registered their locations to connect with customers.

8. Eater: The trendiest guide to find a restaurant

With over 10 million visitors per month on their website, Eater has gain trust from the American audience. With a quirky tone, sense of humor and great pictures, Eater presents the best tables that have not ticked all the criteria to appear on the Michelin Guide but are nevertheless excellent!

Eater is particularly active on Instagram with over one million subscribers and an audience that grows by at least 2% to 3% each month. For Food influencers, using the hashtag #Eater has become a reflex and seeing your publication "regrammed" by Eater is a real sign of recognition!

9. TimeOut: The trendy urban guide that also features restaurants

TimeOut presents the best addresses for a night out (restaurants, bars, exhibitions, shows etc.) in big cities like New York or Los Angeles, London, Paris or Madrid. The content is not exclusively related to food, but a rich section is dedicated to restaurants, tea rooms, pastry shops and bars—an opportunity for restaurants to gain visibility with a similar target audience as the Eater. The media outlet is particularly active on Facebook where it has gathered almost 1 million subscribers for the New York page.

10. OpenTable: The booking platform dedicated to restaurants

It is one the world's leading online restaurant booking platforms, seating more than 24 million diners per month via online reservations across more than 43,000 restaurants. The OpenTable network connects restaurants and diners, helping diners discover and book the perfect table and helping restaurants deliver personalized booking services to keep guests coming back.

Every month, OpenTable diners write 450,000 restaurant reviews. What are they saying about your business? Join the conversation by creating your OpenTable page. The directory listing is worth it for the OpenTable app alone.

11. Yahoo: Local Listing

Much less used that Google, Yahoo still owns 12,7% of the U.S. desktop search market and 7,1% of the U.S. mobile organic search market. With news, reviews, ratings, directions and interactive maps, the multi-faceted Yahoo! helps over 150 million people find local restaurants and eateries. Use Yahoo! to share information about your business and reach new targets.

12. Zomato: The discovery service

Formerly Urbanspoon, Zomato provides you with in-depth information on go-to places around you. It allows you to respond to guest reviews, add photos to your page and update key information about your establishment. Fail to claim your Zomato page and you won’t be able to do any of this. Don’t miss out; claim your page today.

13. Airbnb: The travel booking platform getting interested in restaurants

Airbnb customers in 16 U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Charleston, Austin, Seattle, and New Orleans are now able to book restaurants through the lodging-reservations service. The short-term vacation rental company announced a few months ago that it has officially partnered with the restaurant booking system Resy. Reservations can be for tables, prime seating, and prix-fixe dinners, and Airbnb noted that in the future it will consider offering exclusive tables for Airbnb users, as well as social dining experiences where guests can share a meal and meet other Airbnb travelers.

In 2017, Airbnb registered on their U.S. website over 44 millions users, and is projected to have over 86 millions of users by 2021. In the face of such an audience, it is more than worth it to have your restaurant listed on Airbnb. Even though most people still use the platform for short-term vacation rental, the restaurant booking platform is a way to attract more eyes on your business, and will probably grow in the next few years.

14. Mapquest: The mapping service

With over 35 millions of users every month, Mapquest is one of the largest online map services and can help bring local customers right to your restaurant. Trusted by drivers, this listing is great for businesses seeking to attract any type of customers in the direct area. To be seen in this driving app is a must for your establishment.

Best Case Restaurant - How to Get to the Top of Google Search Results and Attract Customers - Bask San Francisco

Good local SEO is essential for your restaurant to bring in more customers: you to need appear in Google’s top 3 search results, which requires an effective optimization of your Google My Business page. We did it for Bask - a tapas restaurant in San Francisco. It worked pretty well.

83% of Americans use their cell phones to search for a restaurant. The challenge is to appear in the first research results to attract all potential customers to your restaurant. That's what we did for Bask.

Bask is a great French-Spanish restaurant located in San Francisco. Founded by two French couples that are friends, the restaurant serves Basque specialties and tapas. It already had a regular clientele, but could generate even more table turnover. That's why Patrick, the manager, called us.

The initial report: at the end of the summer, Bask was invisible on Google

The keywords typed on Google by the most promising customers were: "tapas" and "tapas restaurant". However, when a web user near Bask was looking for "tapas" or "tapas restaurant," they found Bask's competitors first, and went to their establishments as a result.

Here is what used to come up when searching for the keywords near San Francisco:

There was no mention of Bask in the first few Google search results for the queries "best tapas," "tapas sf," or "tapas San Francisco," which meant that the restaurant had very little chance to attract customers online, due to bad SEO practices.

Search Engine Optimizations (SEO) to improve the restaurant's online visibility

We first identified strategic keywords, words that potential customers would type to find similar restaurants and that struck a good balance between search volume and competition on Google. We then created optimized content with strategic keywords for the restaurant to rank higher in the search results list. We completed the listing with all the relevant attributes for key queries, added photos by naming them strategically, built up the Google + account, and regularly shared news updates from the restaurant.

We also responded to all customer reviews by inserting keywords into our responses.

After a month of optimizations: Bask appeared in Google’s top 3 results

Today, when people in San Francisco look up where to eat tapas, Bask appears in the first search results.

Bask also appears on the top 3 for the keywords "best tapas" and "tapas sf" near San Francisco

Increased number of visits on the restaurant page and an increase in the number of customers found online

The optimizations we oversaw have worked to make Bask get to the top 3 tapas-related strategic search results in San Francisco and the number of times the restaurant is viewed on Google confirms it to this day. In one month, Bask gained almost 57,000 views, almost exclusively on Google Maps. But being visible on Maps means being seen by potential customers nearby, increasing the chances they will actually visit the restaurant and turn into customers.

In one month, Bask won nearly 80 additional customers, to which must be added those who did not need to ask for directions to the restaurant.

Before we began work on Bask's SEO, nearly 32% of Internet users who ended up on Bask's pages found the restaurant by typing its name, meaning that they either knew the restaurant already or were already customers, and 68% discovered it while seeking a similar establishment. After a month, more than 2000 additional people discovered Bask thanks to the improvement of its SEO. The number of new potential customers reached increased by 80.5%.

Bask finally appears at the top of search results that used to favor its competitors. Internet users looking up tapas restaurants are now able find Bask: they're more likely to try it and go back once they have tasted their famed grilled octopus, their sautéed squid and their croquetas...

If you find yourself in San Francisco, remember to book your table here — we promise you won't regret it.

The 10 Best Food Influencer Marketing Campaigns of 2017

To ensure the success of their products with the most favorite return on investment possible, brands in the food industry are more and more tempted to invest in influencer marketing. Here’s a list of the year’s 10 campaigns that more than surpassed their initial goals.

Every dollar invested food influencer marketing generated 12 times its value in earned media (1). Earned media, as opposed to owned media (a brand’s websites and social media accounts) and paid media (bought advertising), refers to the visibility acquired by a brand with third-party means (blogs, social media, etc.).

If word-to-mouth is the most effective way to sell, the extent to which social media has taken up space in our lives means it’s now possible to use social media on a full scale by mobilizing the right influencers.

1) Mezzetta - Raising a profile and generating a list of quality potential customers

  • Who? Where? A company specialized in glass-jarred specialty foods (sauces, preserves, spreads) in the United States.
  • The goal: Increased market shares in the United States
  • The campaign: The project lasted 6 months and involved about fifty food, lifestyle, and family bloggers. With their audience, they shared recipes and high-quality pictures suited to the American calendar (recipes for the traditional Memorial Day barbecue in May, for example). Influencers explained with transparency that their posts were sponsored by the brand, but that the recipes and testimonials were genuine and personal. Some invited their followers to fill out a short questionnaire to win a coupon, which one out of two followers did fill, allowing Mezzetta to compile a list of over 70,000 potential customers.
  • The results:
    • 6,000 unique posts
    • 149 million views
    • 530,000 interactions

2) Bob’s Red Mill - The United States of Cookies: Using patriotism to generate visibility

  • Who? Where? A company selling non-GMO and organic cereals, flours, and cake mix in the United States
  • The goal: Creating brand awareness, highlighting consumption ideas
  • The campaign: Bob’s Red Mill mobilized 51 food bloggers, one per state. With the brand’s products, each influencer conceived and shared their own cookie recipe, typical of their native state. The campaign was divided in three steps:
    • A Facebook Live featuring Martha Stewart and Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian, known for their culinary videos
    • A Twitter party on the end-of-the-year holidays
    • The campaign was then fully launched on the influencers’ social media accounts and relayed by the brand’s accounts
  • The results:
    • 134 million impressions
    • 5,000 Instagram Pins
    • 17,500 interactions
    • 2,500 clicks on a dedicated landing page

3) Stella Cheese - Winning a select seat on people’s New Year’s Eve table spreads

  • Who? Where? A brand of American cheese of Italian origin.
  • The goal: Increasing sales during the year’s end celebrations.
  • The campaign: 75 influencers created original and festive recipes using the brand’s products. They shared exclusive stories on their family traditions and Christmas memories, lending an authentic and intimate character to the campaign.
  • The results:
    • 2,500 unique posts
    • 86,000 interactions
    • 28,500 views on the program’s landing pages

4) Chupa Chups - Making people smile to reconnect with an audience who’s grown up

  • Who? Where? The famous brand of lollipops, in France and Russia.
  • The goal: Reconnecting with a teenage audience.
  • The campaign: Chupa Chups mobilized two celebrities, vloggers, and 100 mid-tier influencers present on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and the Russian social media platform VKontakte. They shared content that was light and fun, much as the company’s tagline, “Forever Fun.” Influencers also launched the #ChupaChupsChallenge which consisted of sharing a picture of themselves as children, and recreating the pose in a new picture with a Chupa Chups. Each then nominated friends to take on the challenge in turn, the snowball effect increasing the visibility of the campaign.
  • The results:
    • 35 million people reached
    • 6,6 million views on videos
    • 27 percent engagement rate for Russia
    • 9,7 percent engagement rate for France

5) Dorot - Educating the market on a product and generating sales

  • Who? Where? A company selling frozen seasoning cubes made from garlic and herbs in the United States.
  • The goal: Showing the uses of the product and generating sales.
  • The campaign: 60 food, lifestyle, and family influencers shared with tips on how to use Dorot seasoning cubes with their audience and highlighted how handy and easy they were to use.
  • The results:
    • 2,100 unique posts
    • 70,000 online interactions
    • +15 percent increase in sales, tracked with the help of coupons shared by influencers

6) Ricola - Celebrating a birthday with good deeds

  • Who? Where? Ricola, the Swiss candy brand, in Germany.
  • The goal: Celebrating the brand’s 75th birthday, and communicating about the company’s Social Responsibility initiatives.
  • The campaign: During a month, the brand collaborated with 30 German bloggers to share articles and visual content on candy made from plants. The sharing of content was reinforced with sponsored ads on social media.
  • The results:
    • 8 million impressions
    • 56,000 unique readers
    • 2,500 clicks generated

7) Stubbs BBQ - Generating online traffic with creative recipes

  • Who? Where? A brand of American sauces.
  • The goal: Creating brand awareness for the launch of a new product and generating traffic on the brand website.
  • The campaign: Ten influencers shared new and creative recipes that used Stubbs BBQ sauces. Each social media platform was used with a precise goal in mind: Twitter to announce they were cooking with a Stubbs BBQ sauce, their blogs to publish the recipes in full, Instagram to share pictures of them and their loved ones around the table, Facebook to generate traffic to the blog articles, and Pinterest to share high-quality visual content.
  • The results:
    • 8 million people reached
    • 8,000 interactions
    • 1 million unique visitors on the blogs

8) GoodFoods - Turning up on the table for the big American calendar dates

  • Who? Where? A company specializing in sauces and juices made from avocados in the United States.
  • The goal: Generating brand awareness.
  • The campaign: The campaign was divided in three steps, following three key moments in the American calendar year:
    • During Game Days (the baseball season), food, lifestyle, and family influencers were mobilized to create exclusive recipes designed for post-match afternoons.
    • For Thanksgiving, influencers shared tips on how to reinvigorate their traditional November feasts by cleverly using GoodFood products.
    • Recipes and tips to create original appetizing on the occasion of the holiday and New Year’s dinners

    To amplify the campaign’s reach, paid ads using native advertising on a network of editors from Women’s Health or Food Beast were used. The campaign was successful: it generated a 45 percent and 34 percent sharing rate on GoodFoods’s social media accounts, while the average engagement rate of brand posts on their network was around 2 percent.

  • The results:
    • 2,000 unique posts
    • 75,000 interactions
    • 25,000 views on the landing page

9) Bigelow Tea - Suggesting new uses to consumers

  • Who? Where? Bigelow Tea, a manufacturer of teas mostly distributed in the United States.
  • The goal: Generating awareness and suggesting new consumption ideas
  • The campaign: The brand collaborated with food and lifestyle influencers with a reputation for healthy lifestyles. They showed inventiveness in producing creative content, which is not the easiest thing with a product like tea. They shared recipes for iced tea, flavored ice cubes, and even for a lip balm, as well as ingenious DIY ideas to give a second lease of life to used teabags.
  • The results:
    • 32,000 interactions
    • +18.5 percent increase in sales

10) Silk Almond Milk - Increasing sales with the best ROI during Meatless Monday

  • Who? Where? A brand of non-dairy milk substitutes in the United States.
  • The goal: Presenting the brand as an appealing alternative to dairy products of animal origin and generating sales.
  • The campaign: The brand collaborated with 258 food and fitness influencers to create content during “Meatless Monday.” They shared exclusive recipes with their audience to highlight the company’s products.
  • The results:
    • 1.7 million impressions
    • 285 dollars in sales generated for each 1,000 people reached (previous paid ad campaigns generated an average 16 dollars).

(1) Source: Statista Influencer Marketing Study: Expert View - Comparison - Trends, 2017