How To Make the Most of Food Bloggers in Your Restaurant
Food blog writers are all over the internet. They often write about restaurants, describing their experience with both the food, the ambiance, and the service.
If you haven’t used these influencers to help improve your business, you may wonder if they are actually beneficial, or if they’re just enjoying a free meal on you.
While we would concur with many food experts, that food bloggers can be beneficial to your restaurant, it can be hard to deal with the many requests for free food.
What’s more, these days nearly anyone with an Instagram or Facebook presence who also writes a blog can call themselves an influencer. So, how do you weed them out and find the ones you really want to work with? And, how do you deal with all those requests for free food?
In this article, we look at how to deal with blog writers wanting freebies.
Ask Them for the ROI
When someone approaches you about writing a blog article about your restaurant in return for free meals, you first want to ask them what their return on investment (ROI) is.
Many so-called influencers may answer you with a blank look because they really have no clear idea of their reach and how many people might move their blog to your website.
If they don’t have any data for you and stats to back it up, it’s a good idea to walk away as this is not a good use of your marketing dollars.
On the other hand, if the blog writer has good web statistics and even case studies to prove their results, you are just fine offering to comp them a meal in return for a blog write up on their website with a link back to yours.
Do Your Research
If someone comes to you begging for free food, you want to make sure you do a lot of research.
First, visit their blog. Check out their articles – are they well written? Do you like what they’ve said about other restaurants or businesses they’ve reviewed? Is their website professional?
In addition, look at what they are writing about. Does it align with your restaurant business? For example, if they’re writing a blog for teenagers, and you are a fine dining establishment, this is not your audience.
Next, you want to visit their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles. If they truly are influencers, they’ll have a large presence on at least one of these social media platforms.
The most important thing you can do is your research. Make sure these aren’t just people asking for free food. They need to offer your restaurant a proven value.
Big Bloggers Have the Money
The other detail worth noting is the big, business-changing bloggers most often have the money to eat in your restaurant, and they are usually happy to do so.
You might find that these folks run their food blogging as a business, and they see your partnership as mutually beneficial.
The biggest and most important blog writers in your area work by a different code than the smaller bloggers, and they are more likely to appreciate what it really costs you to give food away.
So, do yourself a favor and go after the blog writers with the most influence, as they’re more likely to work with you without demanding free meals.
Create a Form
Making your blog writers requesting freebies do a little work.
Consider creating a paper or online form that people have to complete if they’re offering to write about your restaurant. If they aren’t willing to fill it out, then you can avoid the freebie-ask. (tweet this)
You can also include your minimum requirements. For example, you may say that people need at least five thousand Instagram followers to qualify. Or, you may say their website needs at least five hundred visits per day to qualify.
You can ask them to provide a screen shot of their Google Analytics to prove web traffic. For social media, you can look to verify their data.
It’s completely up to you to set your requirements for free meals. Decide what your threshold is and stick to it. If people have too few followers or website visits, it’s not even worth your time.
If, after they return the form to you, you decide to pass on the relationship, it is a good idea to send an empathetic “rejection” letter. After all, you don’t want to engender bad feelings.
You might say something like this: “Thank you for applying to collaborate with our restaurant. While we love your blog and Facebook feed, we are currently inundated with requests for free meals and unable to take on any partnerships without at least 10,000 followers or 1,000 website visits per day. Please reach back out to us when your following has grown. We are so grateful to hear from you that we’d like to offer you a 10% discount on your next meal at our restaurant…”
This way you’ve done what you can to prevent an unhappy blogger from talking negatively about your restaurant. You don’t have to be held hostage by saying no, but you do want to respond as kindly as possible to prevent future issues.
While it sounds easy to give every blog writer who asked a free meal with the hope of building or strengthening your business, the reality is you could go bankrupt in the process.
Align your restaurant with the right people at the right time who truly are food influencers in your community, and your restaurant will gain from the relationship.
Don’t be afraid to say no to those who aren’t the right fit. Influencer marketing can be quite valuable for your restaurant, but only if it’s targeted and relevant to your restaurant. (tweet this)
Consider approaching influencers on your own instead of waiting for them to come to you.
This way, you’ve done your research, and you know which blog writers will provide the biggest value for your restaurant. You can offer them free food and benefit from it in the long run.
At Restaurant Engine, not only do we create great, responsive websites, but you can count on us to create a website that drives business to your restaurant and edges you above the competition by using mobile-friendly design with a terrific user experience. Ready to take the plunge and create a website with an online menu, blog and beautiful photos? Get your free website consultation today!