How Social Media has Impacted the Food Industry

How we eat has drastically changed over the years. Nowadays, its common practice to photograph our food before eating; uploading our images to multiple social media platforms as our plates turn cold. We’re all guilty of committing to this social media phenomenon, uploading photos of unicorn toast and cloud eggs, giving them a global name. Social media made them a hit with the likes of Instagram, and the term “Instagrammable” food was coined.

Therefore, the food industry has had to adapt to this digital sensation, changing the ways they cook, plate and market their brands. With social media showing no sign of decline or being forgotten, restaurants, cafes and bakeries are realising the opportunities social media platforms offer them. Over 208 million Instagram posts have been hashtagged “#food”; there’s a subculture of budding online chefs who are becoming “Instafamous” because of their culinary talents – impossible without the platform. The food industry has, therefore, become compelled to take advantage of this social media sensation.

Photo Sharing Apps

The likes of Instagram and Pinterest allows people, worldwide, to take photos and upload online for everyone to witness. On Instagram, incorporating hashtags relevant to your posts makes you more visible to like-minded people. Therefore, niches have been formed, and Instagram ‘themes’ allow people to dominate in certain fields, the most popular being fashion, fitness and cooking.

The cooking and baking subculture on Instagram is almighty, able to influence on a global scale. The price of avocados is at a 19-year high, with a spike in black market sales of avocados. This surge in popularity is credited to Instagram, with the infamous smashed avocado on toast becoming greatly photographed, shared and recreated online.

It seems that today, we require visual stimulation. Our choice of restaurants, what we bake and eat, are predetermined by what’s being posted online. Multi-coloured bagels make an appearance in New York, and quickly they’re brought to London, bringing in flocks of people, hoping to photograph the latest food trend.

How it affects the Restaurant Industry

Restaurants have, therefore, taken stock of this digital frenzy, using it to their advantage. Social media offers the food industry the opportunity to market their establishments digitally, free of charge, and with much of the population turning to Instagram as a means of judging the food a restaurant serves, posting aesthetically pleasing photos can be enough to persuade new customs to try your food.

The ‘art of Instagramming’ is not so easy, though. Many restaurants and eating establishments have had to rethink their whole menus and aesthetics, as well as what’s trending. For example, today’s culture is incredibly health conscious. Therefore, many restaurants will offer Buddha bowls, healthy toasts and raw balls, making their plating as photogenic as possible. More establishments are also broadening menu options for those who are celiac, vegan and lactose intolerant. All of the above are marketing tools, allowing companies to target specific markets and gain a loyal following. Build ties with your customers while being creative and inspirational; as your social media presence builds, so will your online visibility.

Social media makes it easier for a restaurant to engage with their customers. Taking and uploading images is one way to showcase your culinary talents and creations, however, 85% of audiences are following social media influencers; therefore, inviting local Instagrammers and Tweeters to your restaurant can work in your favour.

The food industry must also consider the general aesthetics of their interiors. They want their customers to capture their space, and make it as ‘cool’ and original as possible. Although social media offers great advertising, the competition is high. Therefore, every detail of their establishment needs to be deliberated.

How it Creates Careers for the Ordinary Blogger

Instagram and Pinterest have opened many doors for the ordinary, everyday person to cater a career in food, and inspired users to create shareable, marketable content. To gain a following, the formula is simple: bake or cook aesthetically pleasing meals, decorate appropriately, take a photo, edit, upload with informative caption, include relevant hashtags and repeat. By creating ‘trendy’ foods and uploading regular content that’s stylish and consistent in theme, you’ll slowly gain a following.

You must, however, be original in today’s social media scene if you’re hoping to get noticed. Taking cookery courses in London from prestigious establishments like Le Cordon Bleu can set you apart from the millions of Instagrammers. You need to be ahead of the game, experiment and market yourself effectively. After all, creating a successful public image can land you sponsorships, and turn you into a marketing influencer.

For example, successful Instagram accounts include ‘fitmencook,’ ‘ladyandpups,’ and ‘deliciouslyella,’ with the latter operating two of her own delis, a festive pop-up in London, and has her own brand of snacks on offer in Waitrose and Starbucks. Accomplished food bloggers can even land their own cookery book deals and live off their blog’s success.

Food for Thought: The Future of the Food Industry

Social media’s ability to dictate the food industry and food trends shows no sign of slowing down. With more people taking to Instagram, taking photos of their food and drink, and blogging about their eating experiences, the food industry has no option but to continue catering to the Instagramming millennials. Social media is a persuasive tool businesses of all industries are harnessing – it’s targeted, simple to use, and incredibly effective in today’s culture.

With the importance of having an online presence, eating establishments must ensure patrons are offered helpful online customer service, online engagement, professional photos, interesting menus, and a well branded, reputable public image. Social media is a numbers game, and as your followers and ‘likes’ grow, so will your marketing power. Therefore, restaurants, bakeries and cafes who don’t already employ a social media team will want to consider investing in one or outsourcing their social media to a professional – otherwise, they’re going to be left in the past as the food industry soars towards the future. 

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