A digital native shares her thoughts on what kind of food media influencers her decisions.
It’s Wednesday afternoon, COVID is hovering over my shoulder and while scrolling through Instagram, up pops Saturday’s ‘doughssant’ teaser post from Jason Bakery in Cape Town.
The thought of layers of croissant dough all rolled up in doughnut form, tantalizes my tastebuds, the photo is making me drool and before I know it I’ve tapped the picture, gone to the website and bam! I’ve ordered a box of “doughssants” to collect on the weekend – but remember, it’s still only Wednesday.
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Instagram took the world by storm just over a decade ago and has been used to showcase every aspect of peoples lives, including food. In a time where instant gratification is sought after, the ability to see one’s food before even stepping foot into a restaurant is a game-changer, but this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Just by typing a few words into the search bar, you can view what a food establishment looks like, what their food looks like, and what the bathroom looks like if it’s Instagram worthy. You can even order food and have it delivered.
Not too long ago a bad review from a food critic could be disastrous for a restaurant but with everyone sharing their opinions about what they are eating, food critics no longer hold as much sway. This doesn’t mean that critics are dying out, but rather that they are having to adapt to the food industry’s new landscape – heralded by the rise of influencers and social media. It’s easy for restaurants to rely on influencer marketing to boost business, as it is within their control to invite or even pay influencers to visit, take photos and share content with their thousands of followers.
Food is no longer just about taste, it’s about the whole eating experience. Even if the majority of that experience is seen through a lens, ready to upload to a social media platform. And while social media happens to be the main source of information for many people, it’s no surprise that Instagram has become a ‘new guide’ to finding the next best experience.
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In today’s reality, fraught with FOMO, where posting about food and drinks experiences is the go-to activity for the younger generations, not having an Instagram account as a restaurant is essentially social suicide.
Today everyone I know on Instagram seems to be a foodie. With the hashtag, tagging, story, and many more features on the platform like reels and videos, they are all sharing food content; where they are eating, their thoughts about what they are eating, all the while ‘promoting’ restaurants through word of mouth and since Instagram is word of mouth on steroids, using this platform to communicate and form connections with followers and potential customers, has become crucial for any business in the food industry.
Instagram has made the culinary world more enticing and accessible to those with a smartphone and has changed the way I buy and think about food. From where I go, what I crave, how I find out about new restaurants and food establishments, and how these places entice new customers to visit them. I think Instagram has all the bases covered and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon.