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Instagram, Facebook offer platform for restaurants and businesses to capitalize on social media influencers

Everyone’s a critic.

The old saying has never been truer than today, when each of us can instantly proclaim our praise (or disdain) for a meal, a business, a tourist attraction or a hotel.

While professionally trained critics, like a magazine’s fashion expert or a newspaper’s restaurant critic, have an extensive audience, most of us claim a Facebook and Instagram following that measures in the hundreds, at best.

However, there is an elite group of social media users, called “influencers,” with tens or even hundreds of thousands of followers. We’re not talking about the Kardashians or Beyoncé, but non-celebrity types who have mastered the art of social media and developed loyal followings. Their photo of that luscious slice of strawberry cheesecake, accompanied by five-star review, will generate a perpetual streams of likes, comments and shares that ultimately drive foodies and families into a particular restaurant.

Influencer marketing is particularly strong in the restaurant industry, and Priority Marketing has effectively leveraged the social media tactic to benefit its client partners. In its September issue, New York City-based Total Food Service magazine quotes Allie Lopez, Priority Marketing’s director of digital marketing, in a national trend piece about engaging social media influencers in the restaurant industry.

Priority Marketing manages social media channels for Ocean Prime, Dunkin’ Donuts, Matanzas on the Bay and PierSide Grill and Famous Blowfish Bar, among others. One example of using influencers to generate social buzz for Ocean Prime’s recent summer promotion, Stop and Sip the Rosé, was hosting an exclusive happy hour event, offering photo-worthy experiences for influencers to share with their followers. Priority Marketing invited relevant Naples-, Tampa- and Orlando-based foodie and lifestyle influencers to private events at their respective locations, where they indulged in a selection of rosés available with the promotion and paired with an assortment of items from the lounge menu. The social buzz around the new promotion reached more than 200,000 people across all three cities.

The Priority Marketing digital and PR teams have partnered with social media influencers on behalf of a diverse group of clients, and note a 120 percent increase in overall impressions and a 30 percent increase in exposed reach following a special event or promotion involving a social influencer.

Priority Marketing’s social media team also creates in-person influencer events around product launches. To help Dunkin’ Donuts generate social media buzz for its new Cosmic Coolattas, Priority Marketing invited key influencers from Southwest Florida to a festive tasting event, where they blogged, tweeted, pinned and snapped from their taste-testing of the icy-cold beverage.

Aside from restaurants, tourist attractions, retail stores and hotels, any type of business can incorporate social media influencers into their marketing and brand awareness strategy. Here are five reasons to consider adding social media influencers to your marketing campaign:

  • Authenticity: We’ve all heard of B-to-B marketing, but the use of influencers is C-to-C marketing – consumer to consumer. It’s seen as credible and more authentic than using a paid actor or model to pitch a product.
  • Inexpensive: Many social media influencers are not independently wealthy or Hollywood celebrities, and oftentimes, they’ll post a photo or write copy in exchange for whatever you’re promoting – a free meal, a new pair of jeans or a prototype of a new product.
  • Audience: Traditional media placements, like a TV commercial or print ad, have a relatively short life cycle. A social media post shared by an influencer can reach that person’s 20,000 followers, for instance, and then many of those individuals will share it with their followers, and so on. It’s publicity that keeps on giving!
  • Passive marketing: Consumers are used to seeing advertisements everywhere – television, newspapers, magazines, YouTube and Facebook – and immediately recognize it as an ad. An influencer’s post, however, looks like any other social media post in that it isn’t a blatant, explicit sales pitch, but just as effective.
  • Conversation starter: The goal of any business is to create a product or service that sells, but that doesn’t happen spontaneously or organically. Influencers can generate buzz and ignite the conversation, and then turn the subsequent discussion over to the official business account.

For more information about leveraging social media influencers for your business or organization, contact Priority Marketing at 239-267-2638.

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