The Do’s and Dont’s of Food Influencer Marketing

Are you a restaurant, food brand or hospitality agency? 

If you are using influencer marketing to spread the word of your business, good for you. It’s an incredibly effective way to market your brand.

Unless you a have a huge budget to dedicate a team and resources to quickly building a big audience on the various social networks or 3rd party ratings and review sites, you have to rely on small moments and hard work to get there. You can augment that process by working with people who have taken the time to curate an audience around products and services that your business targets and have them share content about you.

Check out these stats from tapinfluence:

This is an incredibly strong way to connect with consumers in the restaurant and hospitality space. With the intense competition due to the myriad of dining choices available, restaurants and hospitality marketers have to find ways to cut through the proverbial mustard to attract the eyes of potential hungry customers.

When it comes to social networks like Instagram, the big feature and repost accounts are looking to get paid for your restaurant to be featured on their page. I’ve seen rates from $20 a feature all the way up to $2,500. Do you have that kind of budget? Some restaurants and do and those account owners know it. That’s why they rarely repost from a restaurant.

Why give a restaurant free advertising when they know if the restaurant wants it bad enough, they will pay. Those feature accounts rely on other influencers with original content to come up with great content so they can curate it and gather momentum. Your best bet to get featured on a repost account is to have as many influencers as possible share content about your business. They need the features to be found by the algorithm and will work to get their attention.

You don’t have the time or patience for it. You are too busy running your business or representing your clients.

I get a lot of requests from restaurants or their agencies inviting me to come try their food in hopes that I will share it with my followers. When they do ask, I typically offer one better: I’ll bring a bunch of Influencers with me and really help you amp your presence.

So with all that experience and knowledge, I’d like to help you out. I’ve asked some of my Influencer colleagues to give me some do’s and don’ts for restaurants, brands and marketing agencies looking to work with influencers to market their business.

Alex Jewel AKA @bestfoodalex

DO: preselect the meal or offer strong suggestions when an influencer comes in. We may not know what your specialties are, what’s prettiest, or what you want to market as well as you do, so it’s good to have those decisions made for us or guidance from knowledgeable staff.

DON’T: Avoid or leave out the tip expectation in our agreement. Not letting us know can mean awkward ends of the meal when we have to try to get their attention and sort it out. Let us know what the expectation is on tipping in a polite way, and offer to run our card for a small amount, or let us know ahead of time if cash is preferred.

Olivia Arnold AKA @Foodistagirl

DO: Support other bloggers by following and commenting or liking their content to help them grow.

DON’T: Randomly sent a picture by direct mail to other bloggers and ask them to like or comment on it. Just tag them in the picture! Direct messages are annoying if they’re not part of a systematic, organized group.

Cari Garcia AKA @fatgirlhedonist

DON’T: If you invite an influencer to a meal and they give you constructive criticism privately or tell you that they will not be posting/writing about their experience for XYZ reason, don’t demand that the influencer post just because they got a free meal. I’ve had a couple really bad experiences where restaurants demand I post or write glowing reviews even after I’ve explained that the food was awful. As a result, I’m very hesitant to accept comped meals because I don’t want to deal with any restaurant drama.

Sylvia C AKA @bellythebeast


  1. Always be clear and inform your influencers about the objectives of the campaign, what hashtags to use, and who to tag in the post.
  2. Do ask the influencers for their feedback on how to improve the meal or what ways can the campaign be improved. Influencers are not only there to promote, but a valuable source to better your business.


  1. Do not select influencers based on just their number of followings. Select influencers whose audience matches your brand and style.
  2. Do not blame influencers if their post does not meet expectations i.e. number of likes because there are many factors that can impact the success of a post.
  3. Do not forget to tag and thank the influencer for eating at your restaurant or testing your product when you repost their photo.

Brian Juarbe AKA @myinnerfatkidisout

DO: If you’re inviting an influencer into your restaurant, make sure you communicate it to the staff. Make sure you have a contact person that will be onsite to meet with the influencer. There is nothing worse than arriving at a location for a photo shoot and nobody knowing anything about it. It’s a bad way to start a influencer/restaurant relationship.

DONT: When you invite a influencer to your restaurant don’t micromanage them. The fact that you invited in probably means that you like the features you’ve seen on their feeds. Let them do what they do best and that’s take pictures of food for the Insta. Nobody likes being given a bunch of rules and restrictions when doing a food photo shoot.

Steph Perez AKA @yeahfoodbeer

I ham off to work on this non-sunny side Monday so that I’m not a broque Madame! ? But I’m still dreaming about this eggsact Croque Madame XXL from @JuniperNYC’s brand new brunch menu ??. I can’t even eggspress how good this was…it was no yolk! (I seriously couldn’t help that last one, sorry not sorry!) ??❤️??????? . ?: Many thanks to @foodandcity for organizing a kick ass brunch fest! Check out my ?IG STORIES? for more from yesterday’s shenanigans! ? . . . . . . #YeahFoodBeer #YelpEatsNYC #foooodieee #myfab5 #zagat #eatingfortheinsta #fwx #BeautifulCuisines #eater #eatmunchies #yahoofood #feedfeed #nyceeeeeats #eaterny #foodpornography #NewForkCity #heresmyfood #FoodBeast #HuffpostTaste #forkyeah #eatfamous #ham #refinery29 #tastingtable #EatingNewYork #ForkFeed #timeoutnewyork #croquemadame #yolkporn #cheese

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DO: Make sure there is enough food for influencers to try. I recently went to an event where there they brought out app orders that brought 3-5 of something and there was like 10-15 people. I personally like to at least sample everything I post so as to keep my feed authentic.

DONT: Send out invites really close to a date. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m booked as often as 2-3 weeks out and I hate when I receive an invite to something awesome with like 48 hours notice. Makes me feel like I’m A.) on someone’s D-list which is totally fine, but doesn’t motivate me to want to work with them and B.) bums me out if it’s something totally up my alley, but if I’m committed to something already and I can’t hit up both then I stay with whoever invited me first.  

Rev Ciancio AKA @revciancio, @funwithfries and @theburgeratti

Do you love Burgers? If so, get to Detroit now and go to Bates Hamburgers. Bates Hamburgers makes sliders the way it was always been intended. . Proper sliders the way they were intended: patty smashed by on a flat top grill with steam cooked onions on a squishy bun with American cheese. . All the burgers are made from fresh 80/20 meat and are hand packed before they are grilled with A TON of onions on a flattop griddle. In fact, if you don’t go home smelling like onions after eating this historical burger, you did it wrong. . Do as the locals and order them by the sack, a large brown bag filled with 6 burgers. Be sure you walk in with real green backs because Bates does not take credit cards. . It will be the Burger of your Dreams. . For more info on Bates, click the link in my bio now. . . #burger #burgers #burgerlovers #burgertime #burgerconquest #hamburger #hamburgers #instaburger #cheeseburger #burgerlife #Burgraphy #? #bestburger #bestburgers #bestburgerintown #bestburgerever #bestburgersever #burgerporn #burgeratti #slider #sliders #detroit #detroitfood #BeautifulCuisines #bestfoodworld #buzzfeast #cheatdayeats #cheatmeal #devourpower #eatfamous

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DO: When an influencer posts a picture of your food or an experience from your restaurant, make it a habit to do 3 things, within 12 hours of the post every time:

  1. Like the post
  2. Say thank you in a comment
  3. Use at least 5 words in your comment, not including hashtags, emoji’s and @screenanmes. This is what the Instagram algorithm is looking for in engagement

DON’T: Do not just start tagging an influencer in your photos if you have not already invited them to come have a meal. If you are not willing to invite them in for a tasting, tagging an influencer in photos only causes resentment. You’re saying they’re good enough to do something for you (allow them to be tagged, likes, comments) but they aren’t worthy of going into the restaurant and tasting the food.

Who is having FunWithFries ?: @revciancio ・・・ Hey French Fry lover – do yourself a favor and get to @stickysfingerjoint. They have some of the crispiest, most tasty fries in NYC. . Rewind. Revise. . Hey loaded French Fry lover – get yourself to Sticky’s Finger Joint stat! No one does loaded fries like they do! Where else are you going to find S’mores Loaded Fries!?! . My fave are the bacon Mac fries. They top those extra crispy fries with macaroni cheese (not the noodles, just the cheese) and bacon. It’s a qualifier for best french fry cheese ever. . . . . #fries #frenchfries #frenchfry #frenchfryporn #cheesefries #loadedfries #? #fryday #bacon #baconlovers #BeautifulCuisines #bestfoodworld #buzzfeast #cheatdayeats #cheatmeal #devourpower #eatfamous #eatingfortheinsta #eatmunchies #eeeeeats #f52grams #feastagram #feedfeed #foodgasm #foodie #foodlovers #foodpic #foodpics #foodporn #foodstagram

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Do you have other questions about influencer marketing or want to invite me to try out your food? Drop me an email!

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