Guest Post by Sarah Sunderbrink
As 2017 came to a close, L’Osteria Pizza’s social media team had read enough tips, tricks, and studies and made an important shift. Recognizing that the brand’s marketing mix needed rejuvenation, the team decided that influencer communications would shape the future of social marketing and made a commitment to implement the trendy practice into its business.
Starting is never easy
While our first thought was “Everyone loves pizza, so influencer communication will run on its own,” the implementation turned out different than expected. In fact, starting with the first cooperation/ the first event took quite long.
To build internal and external awareness for the possibilities of communicating with and through influencers, we had to ask and understand:
- Who is an influencer?
- Are influencers the “new” restaurant critics?
- Do influencers get monetary compensation or would a pizza be enough?
- What are our KPI’s for collaborating with influencers?
- How much are we able to/do we have to invest in total/per collaboration (media budget, human resources)?
- How to find the right influencers for our brand?
- How to handle influencer cooperations and events?
After reflecting on these strategic questions, we organized our first influencer event at one of our Munich restaurants in September 2017, inviting 15 influencers to bake pizza with us.
Instead of having presentations, goodie bags and canapes, our social media team first talked about the personal favorite stories and special moments of L’Osteria FAMIGLIA while enjoying antipasti and Bruschetta. This happened before the influencers got to know our products and baked their own pizza.
The most important learning from this initial event: True stories and authentic enthusiasm of a company do fascinate influencers, as did our honest interest in their work as content creators.
In influencers we trust!
Influencer Relations is a very important marketing tool for L’Osteria, as influencers have an important role as opinion leaders, message amplifiers, and brand ambassadors for their, and subsequently our, community. We see influencers as loyal brand ambassadors, not as new digital advertising channels!
We see influencers as loyal brand ambassadors, not as new digital advertising channels!
The goal is to build medium- to long-term partnerships based on trust and shared interests. This means that, while follower counts and reach do matter, authenticity is the most crucial metric.
Through this, we found that, especially when starting with a small media budget, both influencers and our company can have long-term benefits by cooperating to distribute brand messages.
L’Osteria’s collaborations with influencers seek to build trust and sympathy by establishing brand awareness of our company and our products. These goals can be separated from classical advertising metrics. Our main targets are branding, building our image, and creating a dialogue, whereas increases in sales are obviously great but rather peripheral.
All eyes on #losterialover
Choosing the right cooperation partners is the most significant factor of long-term influencer relations. We want to reach our own target group while avoiding major losses.
The more authentic an influencer can integrate a product in his or her social media feed, the better the campaign turns out. An influencer needs to be a convincing brand ambassador, which doesn’t necessarily mean a food or gastronomy expert, but definitely a fan.
Our fixed KPIs for reviewing an influencer’s profile are below:
- Goal of the campaign
- If we want to raise brand awareness, we look for high reach (macro-influencers)
- If we want to raise involvement, we look for a high engagement rate or Like Follower Ratio (micro-influencers)
- Follower count (depends on the goal of the campaign, per above)
- Real followers based on the quality grade (Audience Quality Grade greater than B-)
- Demographic reach of the influencer (Greater than 50% of followers based in Germany)
- Target groups (types of influencers)
- Primary: Lifestyle, Fitness, Family
- Secondary: Food and Travel
- Text, image and video quality
- Text quality
- Content and lengths
- Orthography and language quality
- Image and video quality
- Authentic pictures and ongoing image/video quality that matches L’Osteria brand
- Consistent branding on the social media account
- The influencer should be captured while eating a pizza
- Choice of hashtags
- Interaction – the influencer’s community should be active and interacting with his content (Like Follower Ratio greater than 1.5%)
- Media Value per Post – the price of a collaboration should be at least one time below the media value per post
- Reach – the organic reach per post shouldn’t be less than 20% of their following
- Follower Growth Rate – the influencer’s growth shouldn’t decrease or stagnate (at least 1% organic growth)
- Brand Fit
- Fits to L’Osteria and our values
- Hasn’t worked with competitors within the last year, as that damages credibility
To continue learning about L’Osteria’s successful approach to influencer communications, read the second part of this guest post series!
Sarah Sunderbrink joined L’Osteria in 2016, where she is responsible for social media. She oversees the development and implementation of the social media strategy and the activities for the consumer brand, the development of influencer relations and the development of an internal social media knowledge center for franchise partners of FR L’Osteria SE. Sarah acquired the theoretical foundations for strategic communication while studying Media Management at IJK Hannover and International Public Relations at LMU Munich. Prior to joining L’Osteria, she gained a wealth of experience in the areas of corporate communications, public relations and social media on the agency and corporate side in Hanover, Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, and London. Find Sarah on Xing and LinkedIn.