Written by Stuart Foxman

Restaurants feed mouths. And social media feeds spread word of mouth. Armin Faraji has put himself right in the middle, creating an app that bridges the gap between restaurants and local Instagram influencers.

Node (node-app.com) is a digital marketplace. On the platform, restaurants pay a subscription fee ($100/month) to post free items that Instagram influencers can redeem. In return, the influencers will photograph the restaurant’s food and share it on Instagram.

“Our goal is to democratize influencer marketing,” says Faraji, team lead at Node.

He discovered his passion for marketing and entrepreneurship when he launched a hip-hop concert venture, while studying commerce at Ryerson University. For a time, Faraji was interested in concert and event planning as a career path. Instead, he ended up working and volunteering in positions involving website development, e-commerce, retail planning and product marketing.

Before Node, Faraji ran a small social media and digital marketing agency. He was intrigued by the innovative ways that companies can engage with customers and generate leads. He also knew that influencers were discovering more ways to monetize what they do, from sponsored posts to podcasts.

Faraji partnered with some friends to hold events with business and influencers, learning more about what both sides need and want. That was the genesis of Node.

In August 2018, he and his co-founders launched the app. Node is a tool that allows restaurants to generate social media content and create buzz.

Here’s how it works. Restaurants create a node, indicate what they’re offering (and when) in exchange for Instagram posts. Influencers have to then visit the venue and create the posts for their followers. (The restaurants can set a minimum number of followers.) Node lets restaurants track influencers and their attendance. Once a post is up, the restaurants are tagged on Instagram (all of it is tracked and saved from the Node app).

Faraji reports that an average Node campaign, in one month, results in 25 influencer visits, 35-plus new photos/videos, 8,000-plus interactions, and nine times (or more) the reach compared to paid ads.

Node shares success stories like Flaming Kitchen, a teppanyaki restaurant with locations in Toronto and Markham. The restaurant’s ownership team manages Flaming Kitchen’s Instagram page in-house, and was seeking a cost-effective way to capture food photos from their new restaurant menu.

The menu featured a variety of appetizers, main dishes and desserts that would usually require a full day of photography. Instead, Flaming Kitchen decided to host 33 influencers (and their guests) over one week.

The resulting campaign (featuring hashtags selected by Flaming Kitchen) generated 63 high-quality photos posted, more than 9,500 likes and more than 900 comments, with a total reach of more than 150,000 people.

Faraji says that Node helps influencers to work with great brands, and removes the barriers between the parties. Marketing channels are changing, for restauranteurs and other businesses. There are many ways to reach target audiences. “These days,” says Faraji, “social media influencers can help.”

 Photo credit Zlatko CetinicImages Made Real