If you are a brand that is active in the food space, it makes sense to find influencers that can promote your brand to new audiences in a creative and authentic way. Food influencers have become a prominent industry force over the last few years, and there is now a considerable amount of competition between different food brands to find, hire and even secure exclusivity with key food influencers.
Working with influencers means that you can get some of the most powerful and well respected voices in the food industry talking about your brand. They will become a key part of the conversation surrounding your brand, and shape the way your brand is perceived by their followers.
Influencer marketing can provide excellent opportunities for brand awareness in the food industry. Successful campaigns can lead to an instant uptick in sales. Some brands also find that influencer marketing is helpful for gathering insights on how your target market responds to your brand, allowing them to discover new ways to make their food products more appealing or even develop new ones.
Whether this is the first time your brand has tried to recruit food influencers, or you already have a roster of food creators that you work with regularly, here are some tips to help you find the best food influencers that will promote your brand and help you grow your business.
Spend time researching the top influencers currently dominating the food industry. Figure out what platforms they're using, whether it be YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Podcasts, or newsletters. Your initial research should be fairly broad: sample content from a range of different content creators to get a sense of the kinds of influencers that will best represent your brand. The internet is bursting with food influencers and you’ll find that some of them match the voice and tone of your brand better than others.
Researching food content on YouTube will also give you a deeper understanding of what food fans care about. This will help you to adjust your brand messaging into creator talking points that directly address those topics.
Don’t get sidetracked by the subscriber count of top food channels. Subscriber rate is less important than engagement, and it’s not worth working with a food influencer that reaches millions of people if their content doesn’t reflect your brand and your message.
Use keyword searches to understand their content quickly (without having to trawl through all of their previous content). See if they talk about the kinds of topics that resonate with your food brand. If your brand sells a hot sauce subscription service (for example), then look for a channel that regularly mentions spicy food and recipes using hot sauce .
Once you have found a channel that you want to work with, it’s a good idea to look for any content that your brand doesn’t want to be associated with, to make sure that working with this food influencer doesn’t impact negatively on your brand’s reputation. You can create a “blacklist” of unsavory keywords that characterize topics that you'd rather stay away from, and then check your chosen food channel against this list.
You’ll also want to make sure that this food influencer posts new content regularly, and that they receive positive engagement on their content. Frequent posting and consistent audience comments on their channel is a good sign that they have built up a loyal following in the food space, and have an army of followers who actually engage with their content (and any brand promotions it contains).
Check out other brands' successful campaigns with content creators to see how they used sponsorship marketing to promote their company to new audiences interested in food products. Start building a list of the most prominent brands in your space that you see sponsoring food channels, and add to that list whenever you see a new sponsorship on one of the food influencers that you are tracking.
Looking closely at the strategies these brands have used, you might find tactics and ideas that you want to borrow, from enticing offers to strong landing pages. You can use the ThoughtLeaders platform to track your competitors: with every prominent brand in the food industry, you can easily find a comprehensive breakdown of their sponsorship strategies, and find out what has worked, (and what didn’t work so well).
When you’ve found a influencer you are interested in working with, check what brands they have worked with in the past. If they haven’t been sponsored by any prominent food brands, you might have an undiscovered gem on your hands (especially if it’s a particularly young channel). If it’s a food influencer that has been around for a while, there might be a reason why other brands in your industry have stayed away. Similarly, have a look at whether brands have returned to work with that channel on multiple occasions. Repeat bookings are always a good sign, suggesting that the influencer / brand partnership was successful and delivered results for the sponsors. No repeat booking might be a red flag, suggesting you need to find a different food influencer for your campaign.
It goes without saying that some influencers are bigger than others. That means that some of the biggest food influencers in the game right now might be out of your budget. That doesn’t mean that you should rule out influencer marketing: in fact there are content creators focusing on food that can suit every tier and every budget. Don’t forget that smaller influencers are likely to draw inspiration from some of the most prominent influencers in their space, so it’s possible to take ideas and content trends from the larger channels and find similar food influencers that better align with the size and scale of your campaign.
You should also think about how your brand wants to distribute the risk of your influencer campaign: spending all of your budget by working with one large food channel will mean that you are putting all of your eggs in one basket. Spreading your budget out between a number of smaller food influencers will help to moderate your risk - if one channel doesn’t deliver on your campaign goals, you haven’t jeopardized your entire budget.
Once you have found your ideal food influencers, here’s what to do next:
food influencers, especially those with large followings and a strong track record of brand partnerships, will often be inundated by requests from food brands, looking to sponsor their content. Make sure your email stands out from the noise and includes all the information that the creator needs to know about your company and the kind of partnership you are looking for.
Use our template emails to remove the guesswork, for an effective email that will make it more likely that you will get a (positive!) response from the food influencers that you have chosen to work with:
Download our Brand outreach template emails here!
Once the influencer has responded and shared some details about their channel and the terms of the partnership, you’ll want to collect all of the information relating to your YouTube campaign. It’s always a good idea to keep track of all of the food channels you are working with, the rates agreed for each integration, when the promotions will be running and the number of impressions and site visits you are expecting to see. You can collect this information all in one place with our YouTube campaign planner template:
Download our YouTube Sponsorship Planner here!
Now you have the best food influencers to work with. After running a few tests with these channels, you'll know which channels are performing well for your company, and you can start discussing long-term partnership deals with these influencers. Once you find a content niche for your brand, it'll be much easier for you to select the right food influencers who are relevant to the exact products and services that you're selling.
Our top tip? Keep exploring new talent in the food space so that your brand's marketing strategy stays ahead of its competitors. That means that you’ll want to keep a close eye on the new content trends and the food channels that are leading these. Staying on top of what’s hot in food content on YouTube will help to drive your business forward, with the right influencers at your side.
If your brand is interested in working with the best food influencers, get in touch and we can help you find the right channels for your campaign.