LA Times: "$10,000 for one Instagram post? How food influencers can make or break restaurants"

Subscribers only, allegedly.

That’s the reason one thing I don’t understand about “influencers” - do people really visit a restaurant more just because one influencer makes, an often laughable bad, post/video about it. Sometimes I think it is more a self fulfilling prophecy because some people believe in this ad “mechanism” but I would like to see some kind of evidence (I can see it to a certain degree that some celebrities might have some power to “move” some business but most of these influencers aren’t famous or have build a reputation like for example J. Gold that they actually know what they are talking about)

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I’m willing to bet paying for a post has little to no effect on most restaurants’ businesses. You’re making a $1500 bet hoping the post goes viral and few probably do.

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No offense but this sounds like an age related/ generational non-understanding of technology and social media. The right influencers often have more influence than the likes of jgold or celebrity types to younger generations. Young people don’t engage in content or advertising in the same way most of the older non social media generations do.

The influencers have tremendous reach on an app like tik Tok whether paid or otherwise. It’s serving users videos through its algorithm the things that will get said user to maximally engage with the app. It can deliver hundreds of thousands to millions of unique views very quickly . Just think about how few people it would take visiting a smaller local restaurant to make it an over night hit like maybe 50-200 more customers a day?


The article talked about several different kinds of somewhat overlapping businesses: pay-per-post professional bloggers, amateurs looking for free food, PR consultants.

To a certain degree… pay for play has always been around in various forms of Media. Be it DJ endorsement or local lifestyle shows. There have always been ‘consumer’ reporters who have gotten free items sent to them in hopes for coverage. Right now there are panels of moms and techies who get free items in exchange of reviews (People shopping online love reviews… but rarely leave them). I imagine that there maybe diner panels as well…

It’s also weird that they interview Pim Techamuanvivit, not only is she not an LA Chef… she was a well regarded Food and Travel blogger… she never attended a hosted dinner with the whole purpose was coverage?

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Yup totally agree that many old advertising models are still in use in some form. But the scale of, accessibility to, and ability to pinpoint audiences has changed dramatically since the internet, mobile apps, and social media.


I agree that influencers can attract a large number of followers but there is a big difference between making people aware about a restaurant through influencers and people are actually spending money in that restaurants. Many of the influencers I see on instagram etc. tend to showcase often national or regional chains (which have anyway significant larger ad budgets) or some low key/cheaper restaurants but you don’t see so often influencers show “reviews” of high(er) end restaurants as most likely those restaurants realize that their ROI with these influencers is rather limited. There are many webpage (often from influencers or influencer-business related) who claim that your ROI is great when work with influencers but it would be much more interesting to have some independent research around this topic to see if it is indeed true.

two points to consider:

  1. I think you are possibly lumping all influencers into one super broad category. Sure there are really spammy influencers with a broad audience but there are also many influencers who do have a great aesthetic/more personal connection to their audience and there is good brand/comms fit in terms of business, influencer, and audience. For example, our board’s @chrishei or @Clayfu both have small followings online and I would posit from time to time they might get comped free meals or extras, when they create posts or stories people pay attention since they are on top of food trends in LA and have contacts within the industry. I personally have gone to restaurants or ordered specific dishes based on their posts.

  2. ROI is the name of the game in business. Business 101 put money into the business to make more money, your whole goal is that your profits exceed your operating costs. If there wasn’t profits or at least potential profits in social media marketing this category of marketing wouldn’t exist or would have failed spectacularly. Now whether individual restaurant owners are making smart decisions on ROI regarding marketing budgets…well that is the million dollar question. But if you want to see someone that has created a restaurant empire off social media marketing and influencers just look at Salt Bae and


Jenn Harris likely called Techamuanvivit because she’s had experience on both sides and didn’t end up using whatever she said about blogging.

Wasn’t Chez Pim’s popularity due to her reports on dinners at three-star Michelin restaurants? Those places had no reason to give freebies to a blogger, which was much less of a thing in the mid-oughts.

Great Eater @chrishei
Small following
A Good Influencer.


Yes I know a lot of younger people (my nieces and nephews) in their teens and twenties that buy stuff online or go eat at restaurants because of influencer posts. The influencer in question in the article has
116,000 Instagram followers
1.4M Tik Tok followers
Most of her restaurants video posts are in 20k-50k range. Some are 100K+. Some of these people watching are not even in California. But these kids repost and share so the effect compounds. Compare that to buying local TV where everybody just fast forwards through commercial breaks anyway.

This strategy obviously won’t for all but if I were advertising a local business I would opt for targeted local influencers with a large following over TV/radio. I think you would get more bang for your buck.


Also there is the fact that these influencers are doing the production as well, so the restaurant doesn’t have to worry too much about making a slick video or post to introduce themselves to new customers. That alone can be worth the $1k.

Also, I don’t follow these folks, but I have seen their videos mostly because restaurants themselves will share or promote the content and now Instagram it SUPER easy for two accounts to be tied to one post. Again, it’s like anything else. Some restaurants back in the day (And some now even) used their marketing budgets to do coupons and door hangers. Some now are using this medium.

My only issue are those who do not disclose. It’s a very fine line.


Yeah it’s illegal not to disclose but ftc and state governments have a really tough time enforcing


I’ve seen more people in the last year add the hashtag #ad which seems like that is enough disclosure.


Are you sure about that? There’s a law that requires Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok posts to disclose whether they’re paid?

FTC’s has disclosure requirements for influencers. Though the FTC mainly goes after advertisers and public relations companies. Influencers are probably considered small fry.

It’s actually not enough according to NPR. They’re required to do more than that.

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That page doesn’t say anything about enforcement or penalties.

Will second this. When Shunji-san ordained @chrishei the great eater, people took notice. Personally have been influenced by his posts to go try things, most recently Needle x Katsu sando kakigori. Maybe great influencer should added to his accolades.