Social & Influencers

Looking for influencers to post about your restaurant? These apps want to help

Inplace and Nibble are trying to streamline influencer marketing within the hospitality industry.
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Illustration: Francis Scialabba, Photo: Mensent Photography/Getty Images

· 5 min read

Shortly after NYC restaurant Skirt Steak opened in 2021, @sistersnacking—a food-review TikTok account run by four sisters—posted a glowing review about their visit. The next day, its owner was surprised to find customers wrapped around the block, eager to try the place.

Their post is just one example of the enormous impact that influencers can have on restaurants. A study conducted in Portugal a few years ago found that more than 80% of nearly 400 respondents said they’d visited a restaurant because an influencer posted about it.

Many restaurants lean on the influencer set to help create buzz and keep diners coming. But for restaurants, striking deals with creators can sometimes prove difficult. “Most of them don’t have the resources to hire a big firm to handle this work for them—most of them have, like, a social media person,” Jessy Grossman, founder of the networking group Women in Influencer Marketing, told us.

In an effort to make it easier, platforms like Nibble and Inplace—both founded in 2021—have cropped up to help restaurants connect with creators who can help them get in front of their desired customers.

Tapas on TikTok

A few years ago, Daniel Israeli, Omer Chen, and Omri Siniver began surveying restaurants, bars, and nightclubs in Israel, where they’re from, for a business idea unrelated to influencer marketing. But after speaking to those businesses, they found a common issue: Many were struggling to connect with influencers.

According to Israeli, restaurants often source influencers themselves or contract an agency for help. To bridge what they saw as a market gap, he said the trio came up with Inplace, an app that pairs influencers with restaurants and similar businesses.

Inplace started in Israel and rolled out in New York City last year. So far, around 6,000 influencers—2,000 of whom are based in NYC—have joined the platform, and it’s worked with more than 300 businesses, including Anita La Mamma del Gelato and Matto Espresso, according to its website.

Influencers, who must have at least 10,000 followers to join the platform, have been sourced through means such as Instagram DMs and referrals from other influencers on the app, Israeli explained. They use the app free of charge.

Once an influencer is accepted to Inplace, they can access offers from various businesses in exchange for content—potential incentives may be vouchers redeemable for food, cocktails, or other products at those businesses, Israeli said. (Inplace does not permit businesses to offer influencers “only a discount” in exchange for content, as the founders want to provide influencers with something more tangible, like a product or a voucher.) Businesses pay Inplace for “every collab we create for them,” Israeli said.

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The offers influencers receive can vary based on things like follower count, content fit, and engagement rate, Israeli explained, noting that an algorithm selects offers for creators.

Inplace recently debuted “premium collaborations,” which include “some of the most highly in-demand offers on the app,” Israeli said, and are reserved for influencers who have posted “outstanding content” for clients over their last three collaborations. Influencers’ content is evaluated by a team and AI, which has been trained to look for traits that Inplace deems representative of quality content, such as videos that contain voiceovers and polished cuts.

Two peas in a pod

Similar to Inplace, Nibble caters to restaurants and other hospitality-focused businesses. Michael Radley, Nibble’s co-founder, said he created the app to streamline hospitality industry collaborations with influencers.

The app was inspired by the frustrations he faced as a microinfluencer in the restaurant space. “On the influencer side, I found it very frustrating [when] you’d go backwards and forwards, up and down email chains all day long, all week long, trying to get some sort of collaboration arranged and booked,” he said.

Since rolling out, Nibble has primarily operated in London, working with about 1,600 influencers and more than 50 businesses, like Soho Coffee Co. and Tequila Mockingbird, according to its website. Influencers who want to join are evaluated around criteria like quality of content and whether they have a follower count of at least 2,000, Radley told us.

According to Radley, businesses set up a listing with Nibble including a brief detailing what kind of influencers and content they are looking for. They can include specifications like location, preferred social media platforms, or the minimum number of followers an influencer must have. Nibble then leverages AI to match them with influencers.

Businesses that join Nibble can offer “complimentary experiences” for influencers, who are able to check them out before deciding if they want to post about it, he explained.

Influencers can use Nibble free of charge, but it’s only free for businesses to use until their reach—which Nibble defines as “the number of potential customers on Instagram or TikTok [a business reaches] from posts generated via Nibble”—hits 15,000 people. After that, they can choose from yearly, quarterly, or monthly paid plans.

Overall, Radley said hospitality brands are increasingly catching on to the value of influencers, especially considering many people are treating TikTok like a search engine.

“Hospitality brands are starting to understand that to have high-performing content on…TikTok is a really powerful tool to attract new customers,” he said.

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