Top to bottom:
– Soft Roll
– White Castle Cheese Sauce
– White Castle Marinara Sauce
– White Castle Mozzarella Stick
– Dippy Egg
– White Castle Onion Petals
– White Castle Chicken Rings
– White Castle Crinkle Cut French a Fries
– White Castle Cheeseburger, Red Eye Gravy Hash
– White Castle Cheese Sauce
– Soft Roll
So if you have ever thought, “Hmmm. I wonder what it would be like if I combined every sandwich on the menu at McDonald’s,” you don’t have to wonder any more, Nicky created the “McEverything” for you.
.. and then your friend would go eat it, find out you were right and hopefully tell a whole bunch of their friends. If you got really lucky, the local newspaper / radio or tv station mentioned the restaurant in print / on air.
Today, word of mouth works looks much more like this.
If you’re really good at it, it can also look like this:
You are reading that correctly, 32,250 engagements from only 5 influencers!
Working with influencers to raise awareness about your restaurant, bar or catering service is an incredibly powerful way to connect with other hungry people who live or work near your restaurant.
In fact, according to Hubspot71% of consumers are more likely to purchase based on social media referrals.
The key factor here is that it has to come from an influencer, not the brand itself.
A study by MuseFind revealed that 92% of buyers trust an influencer more than they would an advertisement.
Keep in mind, you’ll be asking them to make sure they post at least once about the meal within a week of dining so people are likely to get multiple impressions in a short amount of time. This will drive awareness and immediacy from hungry customers.
Chances are, most influencers have a bigger and more engaged following than your restaurant does on social media, that is unless you have an incredible budget or are a major band like Taco Bell. Nonetheless, even more reason to work with influencers to build trust in your brand.
Now that you’ve decided that influencer marketing is right for you,
how do you do it?
There’s a number of blogs and media outlets that will give you some clues on how to connect with influencers or what to do with them once they walk through your door. I even have a blog post you can read entitled The Do’s and Dont’s of Food Influencer Marketing. You can go look at those if you need those tips.
I’m going to give you a step by step guide on how to have an influencer tasting happen at your restaurant. This is when a group of influencers come in for one big meal and then all start sharing content about your food and restaurant at the same time.
The effect is to create that “everywhere” appearance which drives impressions with consumers. The more they see your brand, the more they remember it and if they like the, the more urgency you’ll create in getting them to check out your restaurant.
WORK WITH AN AGENCY
There are lots of great agencies out there that offer or even specialize in influencer marketing and tasting events. They’ve already done all the legwork. They already have a list of influencers they trust to deliver. They already know how to help you run a smooth event.
Find one, hire them and get to sharing that tasty food you’ve worked so hard to create. Chances are they will want you to commit to a larger campaign with a 12 month contract, rather than just do a one off event.
If you have the budget and can tie these tastings into a larger overall campaign, this could be a really great way for you to do this. If you don’t have $5,000 – $10,000 a month to spend, then you’re going to need to look into another options.
WORK WITH AN INFLUENCER
Find an influencer who is willing to organize a group of colleagues to come in and experience what you have to offer. Make sure you work with someone who has experience doing this. You’ll need to make sure they are bringing the right influencers in that have an audience that will resonate with your food.
Food influencers like to run in packs. Dining is a social experience and food is better when it’s shared. Plus, more people means more dishes which means more photos and for you, that’s more content they can share about your restaurant.
A large advantage to having a group influencers come together, rather than individually, is that you’ll get what I call the thunder clap. As they have all built sizable local followings and you’ll get a lot of exposure all at once.
You’ll also want them to help you organize the production of the event. Most importantly, you’ll need to rely on them to make sure the other influencers share the food with their followers, tag you in the photos, add your geotag and use any relevant hashtags.
That’s a lot to do and you’ll be asking a lot of them. They will essentially be working as if they were an employee or a contractor for your business. It’s rather common for these people to get paid to do this. Sometimes they even offer smaller sub-payments to the influencers that attend.
Regardless, it’s often cheaper than working with an agency and you can do it as a one-off event. Typically an agency will want a year-long or multi-month contract.
Expect to pay $500 – $1500 for an influencer event. If that’s not in your budget, you can do it yourself. It is a heck of a lot of work, but the guide below will give you all the instructions you need to make it successful.
HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL INFLUENCER TASTING EVENT
You’re smart. You’re hard working. You’re good with people. You’re also frugal and want to try your own hand at this. I get it. I used to be an owner in a bar / restaurant and I used to think the same thing. That’s how I learned how this all works. It’s not easy but here’s your guide:
Search social media for relevant food influencers in your area. You can check hashtags, geotags for popular restaurants, use a search engine or ask your friends for connections. Often times these people want to be found so it won’t be hard.
Determine the right day and time. Best bet is to do something at least 4 weeks in the future.
Most influencers, at least the ones who have a built and engaged audience, are booked out weeks in advance. Keep in mind, most of these people have day jobs, so you’re going to have to give up some tables at prime dining times.
Be prepared to change the date and time based on their availability.
Determine a capacity. How many people can you effectively serve at once? I’ve seen influencer events with 20, 30, even 50 people. If not handled correctly, these can get out of control. Tempers can flare and you can end of doing more damage than it’s worth to have the event.
Best way to start out is with something you know you could manage on a regular night in the restaurant; 4-6 people. Most influencers prefer a more intimate setting which allows for more talking, enjoyment and sharing of lights, angles, and helping each other to set up shots.
More than that and you risk hosting what I call a “feeding frenzy.” This is when a number of influencers are grabbing plates, hiding away from others, fighting for a turn and generally just becoming unruly. Influencers with large accounts won’t even attend these. You’re best off just avoiding.
Come up with a menu. What is it that you want to showcase? What is the most instagrammable dish on your menu?
The goal here is engagement so make sure you choose at least one dish that just lights up on its own in front of a camera. If your signature dish is something that just doesn’t naturally look great on camera (casserole, soup, dips), make sure it’s served in an eye pleasing scenario by having a nice place setting or an interesting / unique bowl or dish.
Another thing to consider when choosing dishes to serve with the goal of sharing on social media is to attract customers for something that may not be what you are primarily known for. Maybe you’re a pizzeria but have a steak that’s out of this world or most people think of you as a neighborhood bar but you have an amazing backyard that’s available for private parties.
Are you going to offer drinks to the influencers? If you don’t mind that influencers could drink as much top shelf liquor as they like or uncork the finest bottles of wine in your cellar, that’s great, they will love it.
However, it’s recommended that you establish expectations in advance so you aren’t taking advantage of or end up inciting ill will.
One thing you should avoid is restricting orders to lower shelf items, well drinks or house wines. You are just going to look cheap and that’s not going to bare you any positive results. You are better off offering no drinks as part of the tasting.
A better way to go is to offer a limit on the quantity of drinks (ex: 2-3 drinks per person). That way everyone knows in advance what to expect.
A really classy way to do this is have a specific tasting or pairing menu that features a special house wine, craft beer or cocktail that you are known for. On the day of the event, if someone comes in and doesn’t like what you offer on the tasting menu, allow them to substitute something of equal or lesser value.
Send out invites to the influencers you would like to come to your tasting. Be sure to include all the important things about the tasting including:
Name of restaurant
Link to website
Link to social media
What they will be tasting
Any other relevant information.
Keep it short. You do not need to include a full press release, a chef bio or photos. Just what they need to know and include next steps on how you want them to RSVP. If you need a deadline for planning purposes, be sure to include it as well.
Once an influencer is interested and RSVP’s for your dinner, have a response ready. It could be as simple as thanking them for the confirmation and that you are looking forward to meeting them. If there is any pertinent information they may need, be sure to include it.
It’s a common practice for restaurants and agencies to ask influencers to post something from the meal within one week of dining. Influencers most likely expecting this so it’s OK to say:
“We ask that you please post one photo of the food within a week after attending while tagging @screenname and geo-tagging Restaurant name.”
It’s also helpful to include what will be served at the tasting, including drinks and or parameters for the bar.
What? You thought this was all for free? These people have spent countless hours, days, weeks, months and years creating a public persona and attracting these audiences. You’re asking them to take all that hard work and give you access for free?
Good luck, they might.
But once you start talking to influencers with more than 20,000 (or even 10,000) followers, it can be a common practice to pay them. Costs can be between $50 a post up to $1,500.
Be prepared for influencers to ask for compensation. If you are only willing to offer the meal, that’s OK. Just be cordial and let them know. If you end up with no influencers attending or only ones with a smaller following, you’ll know why.
*Pro-tip: One way to make this easier is to just pay a flat fee to one influencer to organize the tasting for you, as per above. (I’d recommend it!)
The physical menu
Once you’ve finalized what you are going to serve, create a menu to print out and have on the tables.
Some influencers will take a picture of the menu and share it on their Instagram stories to show some excitement. More importantly, they keep that photo so they know the description of the food for when the post to their feed.
*Pro-tip: be sure to include your @screenname & any relevant hashtags on the menu.
Be sure you are following every influencer you’ve invited to the meal on the social media platform that you’re engaging them to share on. It’s seen as common courtesy and could also signal a reminder for them to follow you.
*Pro-tip: Follow their accounts BEFORE the meal.
Run of Show
I can’t recommend this enough; have a time table laid out in advance of when things are going to happen. Be sure to share it with our staff so everyone is on the same page.
Knowing the timing of things helps to have a smooth event. If it makes sense for the food you are serving, stagger their arrival at the show. Ultimately food influencers not only want to take great photos, they want to taste the food and hot if possible.
If you are tasting a number of similar items like Burgers or Pizzas, you could bring them to the table one at a time. If it’s more of a formal meal or dinner, bring the dishes in groups that make sense like appetizers, then mains, then desserts. A good rule of thumb is that new dishes hit the table every 15 minutes.
Run of Show Example:
7:00 pm – Arrival
Guests are welcomed and shown to table
Server takes drink order, choice of one (1) cocktail (or draft beer or wine)
7:15 – First drink / dish served
Crispy Chicken Sliders – (3 orders)
7:20 – 2nd drink order
Server takes drink order, choice of one (1) cocktail (or draft beer or wine)
7:35 – Second drink / dish served
Lobster & Shrimp Mac n Cheese (2 orders)
7:40 – 3rd drink order
Server takes drink order, choice of one (1) cocktail (or draft beer or wine)
7:55 – Third drink / dish served
Grass Fed Burger (2 orders)
8:15 – Server brings final tab to table
Influencers collect tips & work with server to get tabs paid
*Pro-tip: Have a dish or drink ready upon arrival. You’ll look like a star if you have a reception cocktail / drink!
Social marketing during the event
A lot of influencers enjoy to going live on Instagram and Snapchat during a tasting or share posts into their stories. Have someone logged in and online checking your restaurants social feed during the event.
Being able to like, comment, thank or respond in the moment shows that you value their time and efforts. It’s also a sign of great customer service and likely later when these influencers are telling their friends or family about the experience, they’ll talk about how nice everyone was and that they really cared about everyone’s experience.
The bill / gratuity
You staff is going to work hard, making sure the tasting runs smoothly and showing great customer service, just like they would for a regular customer. Because of this, they deserve gratuity regardless if the meal was comped. Any influencer who is coming in for a tasting should be willing to tip the server.
Your best bet is to bring a check at the end, even if the whole meal is being comped, and just zero it out or simply write “complimentary” on the bill. That way there is no guesswork on how much the total of the meal was and how much the tip should be. Here’s a great example of how to do it:
*Pro-tip: Some influencers would prefer to put a tip on a credit card. Be willing to run a $1 tab or perhaps charge for one small item. I will typically ask them to charge me for one drink just so that I can leave a friendly tip for the wait staff.
After the event
Once the tasting is over, your shot to really take advantage begins.
Night of / morning after:
Log in to your Instagram account and go to the mentions tab. Go into the stories from everybody that mentioned the brand and reply with the like or thumbs up or a heart or an appropriate food emoji, or whatever works for you to show appreciation.
As you see posts from the tasting pop up, make sure you like the post. Then reply with a comment that’s at least five words.
Five words are considered the best practices for Instagram algorithm.
If you’re planning to do reposts, it is welcomed and encouraged. If you do, it’s important that you give the original content creator a mention in the text of the post by using the screen name and also adding them as a tag in the photo.
*Pro-tip: Use an app like “Repost for Instagram” for quick and easy ways to share user generated content to your Instagram profile. It’s worth spending the $4.99 to not have to have the screen name in the corner.
Why did you do this? It’s important to know what you got out of it.
If it was exposure, how many likes and comments did every single post that went up get? Did you gain any followers? In the 4 weeks after the event did you have an increase in sales of featured items?
Know what you want to get out of it before the event and be sure to track it when it’s over.
Does that sound like a lot?
That’s because it is and that’s why a lot of restaurants choose to let a marketing agency / PR firm handle it for them. Some of the more the savvy influencers can do this as well, just ask them.
Or ask me, I love organizing, running and even creating follow up reports!
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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Always be clear and inform your influencers about the objectives of the campaign, what hashtags to use, and who to tag in the post.
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.
Do not select influencers based on just their number of followings. Select influencers whose audience matches your brand and style.
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.
Do not forget to tag and thank the influencer for eating at your restaurant or testing your product when you repost their photo.
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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.
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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.
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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:
Like the post
Say thank you in a comment
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.
When someone first uttered the phrase “go big or go home” back in the 1990s, the Butcher Block from Boucherie is what they had in mind. This gargantuan menu item is enough to feed 5 Fred Flintstones.
What you see before you is Boucherie’s large format, signature dish. The Butcher’s Block includes a house selection of sauces and dry-aged meat; 16 oz filet mignon, 14 oz hanger steak & 16 oz bone in New York strip … plus bone marrow.
This was a succulent, mouth-watering display of humankind’s dominance over the planet. You need this. You need this now.
Call up your friends, co-workers, lover, family … whomever and make a plan to go enjoy a decadently delicious night of Steak of Boucherie.
A monster 10 oz double Cheeseburger with lettuce, plum tomatoes, pickles, red onions and Schnipper’s sauce. I should say “the,” not “a,” because of all the times I’ve eaten this particular Burger, this was the best one.
Everything about it was perfect, most notably the sear on the patty, which was still pink in the middle. That’s not easy to do on a patty of this thickness.
The cheese, oh the cheese! Because this Burger spent just enough time wrapped in tin foil (time = to the distance to walk the Burger around the corner and take an elevator 5 floors) the cheese had melted into a cascading blanket down the side.
But not just that, the bun was perfectly toasted. There was just enough sauce to add some viscosity without over powering the flavor of the meat. The lettuce never got in the way. The taste of the onion kept itself subtly in the background.
And this may sound funny to you, but it doesn’t to me, the Burger required almost no photo prep. It was practically Instagram ready as is!
I’ve eaten this Burger (and many others from the Schnipper’s) before but this one left a mark. I can’t stop thinking about it.
There are lots of Burgers in Hoboken. Not all of them are great. One worth eating is at Jack’s Cabin.
It’s one of the first bars I’ve been to where the environment is intended for you to build and celebrate connections with co-workers. When I working out of Mission50 we would eat there for lunch, hold meetings there and go there for happy hour.
Putting aside which is better, Chicago certainly has mastered the Italian Beef sandwich. Well thanks to Hank’s Juicy Beef, you no longer need a flight to Chi-town to get an authentic one here in NYC.
I’ll give it to you in their own words, because I couldn’t really do it better:
“Chicago-style Italian Beef sandwiches to New York City. Slow roasted beef, marinated in savory Italian herbs & spices, topped with a spicy (or mild) giardiniera, loaded onto freshly-baked French bread.”