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These are four inspiring foodservice influencers of LinkedIn

By: Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Combining the personal and the commercial, social influencers have become a powerful marketing tool. Five foodservice influencers are leveraging LinkedIn to reach new audiences.

The rise of the influencer has transformed marketing strategies across industries over the last five years. Social media personalities with immense followings have gained power that has gone beyond their original platforms to shape culture, consumer behavior and even politics. According to Forbes, the global value of influencer marketing reached USD 16.4bn in 2022 and is set to grow to reach USD 22.2bn by 2025.

Social media: chefs and foodservice entrepreneurs need to understand potential

The food industry is no exception to the power of the social influencer. Legacy Marketing reports that influencer marketing in foodservice led to a 16 % increase in purchase intent. Not only that, but 71 % of customers are more likely to try a food or beverage new product if they hear about it from an influencer and 62 % are more likely to purchase a food or beverage product after seeing an influencer recommend it.

The best platforms for food and beverage influencer marketing are commonly considered to be YouTube, Instagram and Twitch. However, over the last year, engagement on LinkedIn has increased dramatically, making it a platform not to be overlooked. LinkedIn offers a unique opportunity to combine B2C and B2B marketing, by connecting with companies and executives. Global business leaders such as Bill Gates and Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, regularly share content with millions of LinkedIn followers.

Arian Rus – expert for Influencer Marketing


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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Arian Ruß (@arian.russ)

Arian Rus is the owner of Swinx, the first Influencer Agency in the Germany, Austria and Switzerland (DACH) region and recognizes that B2B influencer marketing is gaining momentum and aims to “transfer to the (DACH) region what has long been established in the USA”. LinkedIn influencers can create and publish content, linking your company in their post, exposing your offering to B2B decision-makers. Rus calls this the “shortest path to sales success on LinkedIn”, citing up to 314 % more LinkedIn engagement from influencer endorsement.

Swinx is the first LinkedIn influencer agency in DACH. It provides strategic support to start-ups and corporations to forge long- and short-term co-operations with LinkedIn thought leaders. Longer term relationships have shown to deliver a sustainable increase in brand awareness and lead generation on LinkedIn. Short-term deals are ideal for functions like event promotion, helping to boost sign-ups.

The following four influencers operating in the foodservice industry use LinkedIn as a great platform to engage their followers and build further business contacts:

1. Jimmy Donaldson

With over 17,000 followers on LinkedIn and over 197 million total YouTube subscribers, Jimmy Donaldson is one of the internet’s most followed personalities, especially on YouTube, and primarily known as MrBeast. He has recently delved into the foodservice industry with two new brands, MrBeast Burger and Feastables. MrBeast Burger started as a ghost kitchen concept and recently opened its first physical location in New Jersey. Feastables is a snack line launched in January 2022.


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Ein Beitrag geteilt von MrBeast Burger (@mrbeastburger)

Both brands are promoted across Donaldson’s social media accounts, with MrBeast Burger and Feastables products being integrated into YouTube videos such as “I Opened a Restaurant that Pays You to Eat at It” and “I Built Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory”, which have amassed over 130 million views each.

Donaldson’s brands have demonstrated the tangible power of an online following. When MrBeast Burger’s first physical restaurant opened, more than 10,000 people were waiting in line and the restaurant went on to break the world record for the most burgers sold in one day by a single site. Feastables have expanded into every Walmart in America, selling “a couple hundred thousand” units each week, in the space of a year.

Donaldson uses LinkedIn to share metrics, behind-the-scenes content and collaborations with other brands and influencers.

2. Danny Meyer

Danny Meyer is considered one of the most influential names in modern restauration, known for his values of “enlightened hospitality”. He is the founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality and founder of Shake Shack. His book Setting the Table: the transforming power of hospitality in business is highly rated and considered a must-read among many aspiring restauranteurs. Meyer’s Enlighted Hospitality fund launched in 2016 and is impacting the foodservice industry through investment.


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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Danny Meyer (@dhmeyer)

Speaking on the GaryVee podcast in 2018, Meyer emphasized the importance of marketing through telling the business’s story. “[It’s a question of] how do we tell our story, rather than getting other people to tell it for us,” he explained. With almost 82,000 followers on LinkedIn, Meyer uses the platform to share storytelling articles such as A Return to Tipping, But Let Them Be Shared, and co-promotes events including the webinar “Creating a restaurant culture that attracts and retains” with Jordan Boesch, CEO of restaurant management 7shifts.

3. Poppy O’Toole

With almost 500,000 followers on her Instagram account poppy_cooks, Poppy O’Toole has turned almost a decade of professional kitchen experience into a powerful online presence. Self-styled the Potato Queen, O’Toole has leveraged the power of online virality to reach enormous audiences. Her latest trending recipe is her honey mustard glazed hasselback potatoes, shared as part of her 12 days of Christmas potatoes series.


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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Poppy O’Toole (@poppy_cooks)

O’Toole uses LinkedIn to broadcast her achievements, including being selected as a judge for Young Master Chef and appearance on Saturday Kitchen Live.

4. World Central Kitchen

Not a person – but a hugely influential organization. World Central Kitchen was founded by chef José Andrés in 2010 to help support the people of Haiti following a magnitude 7.0 earthquake and today aims to be the “first to the frontlines” worldwide, providing food in times of crisis. This year, Andrés was awarded an Order of Merit by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy after World Central Kitchen provided hundreds of thousands of daily meals to over 8,000 distribution sites.

With nearly 24,200 LinkedIn followers, World Central Kitchen shares its food security mission “wherever there is a fight so that hungry people may eat, we will be there”, and celebrates achievements like being named the 2022 Humanitarian Innovator by the Wall Street Journal.


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Ein Beitrag geteilt von World Central Kitchen (@wckitchen)

Potential of LinkedIn for Foodservice is evident

Foodservice entrepreneurs and restaurateurs should take note of LinkedIn as another platform to capitalize on the influencer’s secret blend of the personal and the commercial. Using this media to publish news or celebrate achievements on the one hand while generating leads or signups for events or downloads on the other hand. But, opportunities go further and include long-term collaborations with influencers, or ‘thought leaders’, where an influencer becomes an ambassador for a brand, or for one-off sponsored content.


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