Regardless of whether you believe the role of the social media influencer is silly or not, they’re here to stay. It doesn’t look like that’s going to change any time soon. Rather than roll your eyes at their role, you should capitalize on their visibility and the trust they build with their followers.
A Case Study
Case in point: Stella Rosa. At a recent event in Las Vegas (more on that in the near future *wink), the brand hosted an intimate gathering of mixologists, press and influencers last week. They could have shot TV and online ads to make their announcement, spending loads of money in the hopes of going viral. Instead, they chose to align themselves with a small but influential group of people.
Among those invited were local influencers. This type of influencer is focused, for the most part, on posting about their city or region. In this case, that city was Las Vegas, a major food, beverage, hospitality and nightlife market in terms of influence. However, the city itself is small. Yes, there were national (international, really) influencers in attendance, and there was national press with international reach there as well. But what struck me was a major brand embracing influencers known mostly for operating in one market.
I was struck because there’s an important lesson to be learned by operators from the tactics of a major brand: embrace the local influencer. Not every bar, nightclub or restaurant can afford to hire a famous artist or athlete to promote their venue. What just about any operator of any size can do, however, is show their local influencers a great time at their business and stack the odds in their favor that it will lead to new guests coming through the doors.
Leverage the Influencers
Search your city or town on various social media platforms (particularly Instagram), identify the influencers posting about bars, nightclubs, restaurants, food, beer, wine, spirits and cocktails in your area, follow them and like their posts, follow their followers and like their posts, and get their attention by tagging them in your posts. Invite them to enjoy an evening at your venue (ideally with one or two friends), tell them your story, shine a spotlight on your staff’s talents and your specialties, show them how you’re different than your competitors, and provide them with tags and hashtags you’d like them to use in their posts about your business.
The Power of Influence
I know that the influencer seems like a strange social media personality and marketer to some. Why, they wonder, should they care about some man or woman online “famous for nothing” more than having thousands of followers on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat? Fair enough, except that there’s another way to look at influencers.
An influencer is, when boiled down to their core, a marketing resource. Film and television stars, professional athletes, professional musicians and artists, spokesmodels…these are the high-level people we were, until recently, expecting to sell us shoes, cars, fragrances and, of course, beer, spirits and wine. (Those people are still endorsing and selling all manner of products and services to the world, of course.)
And why are “traditional” famous people chosen to sell things? Because they can influence—key word alert!—consumer purchasing decisions. The Internet and social media have given more people than ever a voice, so those in “traditionally famous” roles aren’t the only people who have influence over others. Hence, the influencer was born once brands realized they could reach consumers’ wallets through the Insta-famous.
The major influencers have fantastic, usually global reach, but think about the reach inherent to a local influencer. They’re engaging with people in your immediate area. That means a significant percentage of their followers are important to you since they can be motivated to visit your establishment, spend time and money on your business, and spread the word. In many ways, the local influencer isn’t just more realistic for the average operator’s budget, they’re more valuable and relevant as revenue generators.