The pen is mightier than the sword, but these days, TikTok is mightier than the pen. As bars and restaurants turn to social media as their main source of self-promotion, influencers have quickly become a major force in marketing, wielding the ability to capture an audience of thousands — sometimes millions — with a mere 15-second video.

There are a lot of mixed feelings regarding the rise of influencers. After all, who’s to say which influencers have the proper credentials to give accurate, unbiased reviews of food and drink? However, while a food critic may have more legitimacy in the trade, it may mean that they approach dining through a different lens than the average Joe. So maybe the influencer actually is the most appropriate test driver for a new restaurant or bar. But then again, how much influence do these influencers have? If their follower count directly relates to the size of their ego, there could be a good chance they’re just running around town looking for an “eat and drink for free” card in exchange for internet clout.

On this episode of the “VinePair Podcast,” Joanna and Zach debate a recent New York Times article about how a set of unscrupulous social media influencers are shaking down and exploiting restaurants and bars: Is this really happening, or is it more about a changing landscape for advertising and marketing that makes older models look obsolete? Tune in for more.

Zach is drinking: Chambord and soda

Joanna is drinking: Buckwheat Strong Ale from Transmitter Brewing

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