How Influencer Marketing is Helping Local Restaurants & Grocers Stay in Business

Kelsey Formost

28 Apr 2020 · 2 min read

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Since the stay at home order was put into place weeks ago, the restaurant industry has been among the hardest hit. After being forced to close for public health and safety reasons, many restaurants are providing takeout meals in lieu of dine-in service so they can stay in business. But without traditional means of in-person marketing, how are local eateries letting their customers know they can purchase takeaway? Via social media.

Influencers are stepping up to help local restaurants amplify their message that they are open for business during the pandemic. With a similar effect to word-of-mouth marketing, influencers are showing their followers which local eateries are open for delivery and/or takeout and how they can best access meals.

The publicity from this kind of social media activity is incredibly valuable considering most diners are currently hesitant to spend any extra money, with many unwilling to leave their homes, even for curbside pickup.

Yet one thing has proved certain, people want to help their local businesses weather the storm.

Stephanie Garofano, the foodie influencer who runs the social media account @thediningdolls with her sister Lula Ferrell, has been providing pro bono services for local eateries in Los Angeles. She recently told EaterLA, “We’re all in this together. I want a thriving dining culture”.

She’s hoping that her efforts will bring awareness so people can support restaurants and that her content will encourage them to spend their dollars in their local communities. “I think it really makes a difference,” says Garofano. “People are online, and people need to eat. Most people can’t cook.”

Since sharing more about local LA restaurants who are providing services during the pandemic, the sisters have seen a giant bump in engagement, mentions, and especially in comments. By supporting their local community in a way that is safe and helpful, the relationship between the influencers and their local restaurants has proven to be mutually beneficial.

Restaurants aren’t the only ones being buoyed by social-media-induced brand awareness. Grocery and food delivery services have exploded over the past six weeks, with many predicting our grocery shopping habits may be forever changed.

Organic produce delivery service Farm Fresh To You is one example of a brand that is both benefitting from the power of social media marketing and passing those benefits on to local farmers and grocers. Since the influx of demand for grocery delivery, @farmfreshtoyou has seen a 21% increase in follower growth. The data shows us that more and more consumers are looking to social media for the information they need.

Because of social media and influencer marketing’s proven efficacy in generating commerce, even during times of crisis, business consultants are jumping on board to help local food providers increase their social media outreach to stay afloat, sometimes helping well-established eateries post their very first update.

Small business counselor Mariko Lochridge of Little Tokyo Service Center described her experience helping restaurant owners create social media presences from scratch. She told the LA Times, “I want to make sure people have that place to go back to when this is all over”.

Until the stay at home orders are lifted, local food establishments are providing as many takeout meals as they can in order to stay afloat until they can fully re-open. By connecting with influencers, and by leveraging the power of social media, restaurants, grocers, and food providers are giving their customers the opportunity to support them through the crisis.

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