21 Successful Strategies for Food Influencer Marketing

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Food influencer marketing: where a single social media post can make your taste buds tango and your brand sizzle in the spotlight. In this blog, we’ll introduce you to some tips for elevating your food influencer marketing strategy and provide some examples to help you become the sweetest show on social media. Let’s get into it.  

What are food influencers?

Food influencers are content creators who leverage their social media presence—and often their culinary expertise—to share food-related content with their followers. They create and curate content like recipes, cooking tips, reviews, photography, and more. Many have niche specialties like vegan cuisine or gourmet cooking. But whatever their area of expertise, brands can leverage them to reach their target audience and tap into their authentic and trusted recommendations.

Food influencer marketing can be successful for a wide range of brands in the food and beverage industry and related sectors, including: 

  • Restaurants and cafes
  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Cookware and kitchen appliances
  • Food delivery services
  • Cooking schools and classes
  • Grocery stores and supermarkets
  • Food festivals and events
  • Travel and tourism boards
Two influencers recording themselves participating in food influencer marketing

21 tips and best practices to elevate your food influencer marketing strategy

1. Partner with micro influencers.

Micro-influencers are individuals with smaller but highly engaged followings. They offer a more authentic and relatable connection with their audience. In the food industry, partnering with micro-influencers allows you to target specific niches within the culinary world. Their recommendations often carry more weight because of their perceived authenticity and deeper connection with their audience.

2. Demonstrate new recipes.

Recipe demonstrations are a highly effective way to showcase your food product’s versatility and how it can be integrated into everyday cooking. Influencers can create engaging, step-by-step videos or blog posts that walk their audience through preparing a meal or dish using your product. Having a food influencer break down the process makes cooking a delicious meal far more attainable and encourages others to try their hand in the kitchen. 

3. Collect as much user-generated content (UGC) as you can.

UGC is a powerful strategy to engage your customer base. Encouraging your audience to create content featuring your product generates a sense of community around your brand. Start by creating a unique hashtag and have your influencers share it with their followers. The content you collect from the campaign can be shared on your own social media channels (with the proper content rights) to provide additional social proof. 

4. Create educational content.

Collaborating with influencers to create educational content helps consumers understand the unique qualities and benefits of your food product. Influencers can explain the nutritional value, sourcing, or any certifications your product may have, positioning it as a valuable addition to their lifestyle. 

5. Collect reviews and testimonials.

You gain trust when influencers provide honest reviews and testimonials of your products. Positive endorsements from trusted individuals can significantly influence consumer decisions. Even if it’s just a few kind words about your brand or product, building a library of positive reviews from trusted sources will do wonders for your credibility. 

6. Highlight local cuisine.

Highlighting your product’s adaptability to different cuisines through influencers can broaden its appeal. Influencers from diverse culinary backgrounds can show how your product can be used in various regional dishes, making it more versatile and appealing to a wider audience. 

7. Do seasonal promotions.

Capitalizing on seasonal food trends is an effective way to stay relevant and engage consumers. Collaborate with influencers to create content that aligns with specific seasons, holidays, or festivities. This can increase the visibility of your product during peak consumption periods.

8. Create a cookbook or recipe ebook.

Developing a cookbook or recipe ebook with influencers provides valuable content that consumers can use repeatedly. These digital resources can showcase a variety of creative ways to use your product, offering inspiration and value to your audience. It’s also a fun keepsake that people can pass around and share with their friends. 

9. Focus on sustainability and health.

More and more people are demanding their regular meals be both healthy and delicious. Thus, collaborating with influencers who emphasize sustainability and health aligns your brand with important consumer values. Influencers can highlight your product’s eco-friendly practices or health benefits, attracting consumers who prioritize these aspects. 

10. Leverage cross-promotions.

Partnering with complementary brands or influencers can expand your reach and customer base. Cross-promotions involve promoting each other’s products to tap into each other’s audiences, creating a mutually beneficial marketing strategy. It’s also a fun way to gain insights and fresh ideas from other brands in or adjacent to your industry who can help you take your marketing strategy to new heights. 

11. Prioritize accessibility and inclusivity.

To cater to a broad audience, collaborate with influencers from diverse backgrounds and dietary preferences. This inclusivity demonstrates that your food product can meet the needs of a variety of consumers, enhancing its market appeal.

12. Hold a ‘mystery box’ challenge.

Send your influencers a curated box of ingredients, including your product and a few surprise elements. The “challenge” is for the influencers to use their culinary skills and creativity to craft innovative recipes using the provided ingredients. If done well, you’ll create engaging content for those awaiting the outcome of the final product and encourage others to try the challenge for themselves.

13. Run a taste-testing panel. 

Create influencer taste-testing panels where they sample and rate different product variations or new flavor releases. This feedback can help refine your products and generate authentic reviews. Your new flavors don’t have to all be home runs, either. Showcasing your failures as well as your wins makes your brand seem more relatable and gives audiences a more authentic look into the product design process.

14. Engage in interactive storytelling.

Interactive storytelling content is another great way to engage your audience. For example, design an Instagram Story series where influencers share a cooking adventure, and followers can vote on key decisions like ingredients, cooking techniques, or even the outcome of the dish. This is a great way to tailor content to match audience preferences. 

15. Host a themed culinary tour. 

Embrace the “edutainment” trend by collaborating with influencers to create culinary tours exploring specific food-related themes. For instance, an influencer could embark on a virtual tour exploring “The Spices of Asia” or “A World of Pasta,” where they showcase different dishes and cuisines that incorporate your product. This themed tour offers a mix of education and entertainment, making it engaging and informative for the audience. 

16. Share ingredient stories.

Collaborate with your influencers to share the stories behind your product’s ingredients. This approach humanizes your brand and adds a narrative dimension to your product’s promotion. Consider discussing how you sourced the ingredients, their cultural or regional significance, and some behind-the-scenes content about how you incorporate them into your product from start to finish.   

17. Experiment with interactive packaging.

Incorporating interactive elements like QR codes or augmented reality (AR) into your product packaging adds a layer of engagement. When scanned or activated, these features can lead consumers to interactive content, such as games, quizzes, or immersive experiences related to your product. In addition to enhancing the user experience, this strategy can also be a clever way to collect valuable data about consumer preferences and behaviors.  

18. Hit the road.

Plan influencer road trips where they travel to various locations to explore local cuisines while incorporating your product into their culinary adventures. This strategy combines travel and food content, offering a diverse range of experiences.

19. Put out a thematic content calendar. 

Creating a thematic content calendar involves planning your influencer marketing campaigns around specific themes, seasons, or occasions throughout the year. For example, a coffee brand might have a “Month of Mornings” theme where influencers share their favorite morning coffee rituals and recipes. This gives your audience planned content they can look forward to and engage with.

20. Try out some fun quizzes. 

Interactive quizzes are a fantastic way to engage your audience and collect valuable data. Promote the quizzes on your influencers’ platforms and your brand’s social media channels. Encourage influencers to share their own quiz results and experiences to spark conversation.

21. Always be innovating. 

Staying innovative with your food influencer marketing campaigns ensures your brand remains fresh and appealing to your audience. 
Here are a few ways to help stay on the cutting edge:

  • Keep up with the latest trends. Work closely with influencers who are in tune with the latest food and social media trends. Their insights can help you adapt and stay relevant. 
  • Leverage emerging platforms. Don’t hesitate to explore new and emerging social media platforms or features. For instance, consider collaboration with influencers on platforms like Threads or Snapchat if they align with your target audience. 
  • Experiment with content formats. Encourage influencers to experiment with different content formats like live-streaming interactive storytelling, or 360-degree videos. 
  • Iterate and refine. Continuously analyze the performance of influencer campaigns and gather feedback from creators and their followers. Use this data to iterate and refine your strategies for better results.

Best food influencer campaigns to help guide your strategy

1. Chipotle

@daviddobrik #ChipotleLidFlip @chipotle #ad ♬ Flip – Future

Chipotle was one of the first major brands to make a splash on TikTok and has been implementing creative challenges and games for the last several years. In 2019, it was the #ChipotleLipFlip—a simple challenge that generated millions of views for the brand thanks to partnerships with Gen Z superstars like David Dobrik. Dobrik’s post alone generated more than 600,000 likes, 15,000 shares, and 1,700 comments in just a matter of days. 

2. Aldi

@smashbengali AD| This Ramadan I’m breaking my fast with @Aldi UK ✨ #Aldi #fyp #ramadan2023 #iftar #recipe #cooking #AldiUK ♬ original sound – Hashu ✌🏽☺️

Aldi’s video series called “Food for Thought” involves creators getting together to cook for each other and have a discussion about an important topic. Some of their most popular content has been about International Women’s Day and Ramadan. The series is a great example of how brands can educate and entertain their audiences while expanding their representation. 

3. McDonald’s

When McDonald’s collaborated with the Masked Singer recently, the fast food restaurant did more than just use the popular television show to promote their brand. They also sent British singer Ashton Merrygold to the Ronald McDonald House to help showcase the restaurant’s support for helping children and their families. The campaign was a great opportunity for McDonald’s to highlight its charitable endeavors while bringing even more awareness to the brand overall. 

Key takeaway: Leverage food influencer marketing to spice up your strategy. 

Food influencers are the perfect combination of educational and entertaining to provide your brand with engaging content your audience won’t forget. Leveraging them effectively will help elevate your strategy, providing you with the social proof and quality content you need to get the best possible ROI from your efforts. 

Updated: December 2023

Frequently Asked Questions

Food influencers’ charges can vary widely based on factors like their follower count, engagement rate, and industry experience. 

Micro influencers with a few thousand followers may charge $50 to $500 per post or collaboration. Mid-tier influencers with tens of thousands of followers may charge $500 to $2,000 per post, while top-tier influencers with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers can command $2,000 to $10,000 or more per post. 

Rates can also depend on the complexity of the campaign, exclusivity, and the influencer’s niche expertise. Negotiations and contracts typically outline fees and deliverables.

Many different food brands can benefit from working with influencers, including:

  • Restaurant chains
  • Food and beverage companies
  • Cookware and kitchen appliance brands
  • Meal kit services
  • Health and nutrition brands
  • Specialty and gourmet foods
  • Culinary schools and classes
  • Supermarkets and grocery stores

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Written by Quinn Schwartz

Quinn studied journalism at the University of Kentucky and now lives in Portland, Oregon. He’s particularly interested in storytelling in digital marketing and cost-effective creator strategies for smaller brands. When he’s not writing, you can find him at a concert, dog park, or debating whether or not to go on a run.

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