If you run a restaurant or takeaway, there is a good chance that you will inevitably be contacted by and end up working with food bloggers at some point. Food bloggers are an interesting bunch of people and they can potentially be really good for your business. They can also sadly be con artists, which can be a pain in the neck.
Most of the time you will be contacted by someone asking if they can review your food or restaurant, they will usually tell you that they are a food blogger or reviewer and that they have done this for many companies. The first thing you should do is try and build a small relationship with them and find out more about them.
There are several different grades of food bloggers, ranging from small time reviewers who will give a review on TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook and other platforms to social media influencers, who run Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. Then you have your giants who have their own websites where they blog relentlessly, run a terrifying superstructure of social media, including their own Tumblr and Plurk (yes that is a thing!)
The giants are the absolute best of these, as they will understand the value of mutual backlinks, working together and you may even get a great relationship with them that can turn your business around full time! The influencers and basic reviewers are also good because you will need reviews on these platforms, though you will pick them up naturally, and it’s always nice to get noticed if someone has a local following.
Avoid Con Artists
Before we begin, we have to deal with this… Sadly in the world, there are people who exploit the goodwill of others, and I have seen it time and time again when managing the social media profiles of restaurants and takeaways for my customers. Someone will contact the page and claim to be an influencer. Usually a Facebook or Instagram hotshot with an impressive following, usually ranging from a few thousand followers to an absurd few hundred thousand. The easy way to spot these people is to look at their posts. If they are not getting absolutely tonnes of likes on everything, shares, comments, etc, they are not legitimate and should be avoided like the plague.
Then you have the wily ones. These try to sneak under the radar with a highly followed social media account with low reactions, usually they have an interesting name and claim to be the husband/wife of a real Influencer. These people are best avoided. There will be some who claim to work for a specific website that does good blogs. Usually you can spot these people easily because they won’t have an email address at their website. Some people who don’t are still legitimate but you should go with your gut feelings. If something feels wrong, it usually is somewhere.
Sometimes, you will meet someone who has no real social media following. They want to start a blog and they have a website ready that they’re building and they are literally just about to start out on their journey. I recommend working with these people as you will be one of the first people they talk about and it will help you when they get big.
A good first experience and a great testimonial can begin someone’s career and a lot of the time you will be remembered for it. Get them to write reviews on Facebook, Google and TripAdvisor once they’re done as well as a blogger and offer to write them a testimonial they can use to approach restaurants and takeaways. You can teach them how to advance on social media, and send them to our website to learn more blogging and social media tips! These kind of relationships are great because they allow you to nurture someone and build a beneficial relationship.
These people can be invited back occasionally if they give good reviews and you want to get them to try your new dishes. Make them strong and they’ll make you strong.
You can spot an experienced reviewer from the quality of the reviews they leave. Anyone can hit a 5 star review, and frankly half of your friends could do that for free, though we would never recommend dishonest reviews as they have a habit of biting you at the worst possible times. It’s as unethical as the one star review your rivals leave on your social media claiming you serve worms instead of spaghetti and your nachos taste of and look like a bird’s nest.
An experienced reviewer has left a lot of reviews on their accounts on Google, Facebook and TripAdvisor. Ask to see some of their reviews and look for the depth they go into. If they add a lot of depth and put time and thought into their reviews, these are great people to go for and it will benefit your restaurant. I have been stunned by reviewers from papers who simply put a 5 star with the word “great” or “amazing” (if you ever get that, contact the editor and ask them to get the reviewer to elaborate on food, quality, decor, because food is costly and you were expecting more from their paper.)
Instagram and Facebook Influencers
Look not for the number of followers, my friends, but look to the interactions, reactions and communication. Social media is social, and an influencer influences to the point where they respond, react, talk and interact with people. Real food influencers generally hashtag locally and have lots of reactions and interactions. They can be great people and give good reviews. Make sure they also review you on Facebook, TripAdvisor and Google.
These are the powerhouses I’m the industry, people with followings, websites, knowledge and ads over everything. They make their living off of fine dining and their reviews count more than Dracula. Their blogs will link back to your website and increase it’s SEO, their posts will influence people to come in and their professionalism will be on point.
These people are most likely to give you an honest review, and this is what you should hope for. You are less likely to get 5 stars from them because they will not be swayed by free food. They will be honest and their appraisal could help your restaurant or takeaway fix potential flaws. I love these people very much because they can be brutally honest, but they generally won’t publish anything that will damage your reputation. They will usually take you to one side and talk you through things in the rare instance that there is a problem. They also won’t usually contact you if you have a bad reputation.
Give More To The Bloggers!
I mentioned earlier that giving a testimonial might help a blogger. This will help everyone, and should be offered to everyone who offers to review your food.
One of the things I recommend when a blogger visits you who has their own website is that you write a blog about them visiting you, what they ordered and talk about the positive experience! Be sure to link out to their review of you on their website. This will help them rank and will end up being mutually beneficial as they have linked to you. Sharing this on your social media might get more people involved. It’ll put you out a bit on food but the reviews and exposure can really help!
Always take the time afterwards to thank the bloggers in an email or in a call, let them know their work was appreciated. They will remember it as something more than a business transaction.
Thank you for reading this and I hope it helps!
I am the CEO of Fantasoft an up and coming digital marketing firm based in the UK. I work as a blogger, SEO specialist and Web Designer, and my hobbies include making small films and writing music.