Social media has become more and more visual as data analysts have unveiled algorithms meant to supply people with the multimedia stimulus they crave. Some popular additions have included face-recognition filters that add an element of augmented reality to apps like Snap and Facebook Messenger. In addition, stories and live feeds allow for more real-time ongoing narratives and inclusive experiences in cyberspace.
As good and fun as all these elements are for individual users, it’s even more telling for the world of business marketing, sales, and consumer engagement — and nowhere is this more apparent than in the realm of food.
A quick tour of hashtags such as #FoodPorn, #Yummy, #Foodies, and other food-related phrases will reveal that instagrammers love their food — and they love sharing it with people. From the staging to the lighting to the ambiance of the space, food is not just nourishment anymore — food is a sharable experience among friends and followers.
The snack food industry realized this quickly and adapted its sales and advertising techniques to follow suite. Granola bars and power bars, for example, have used their packaging, commercials, and ads to sell nature adventures. As I’ve written about before, the combination of colors, mountainous imagery, and references to natural ingredients suggest to consumers that the experience they’re about to embark on is one adventure and grit.
Cheerios has worked on selling a wholesome family experience, capitalizing on the popularity with consumers of all ages and highlighting intergenerational delight in their commercials. Special K Cereal has marketed their foods towards women on the move with busy lives and schedules but a commitment to keeping their bodies fueled.
Naturally, some restaurateurs bemoan the millennial ritual of staging a photo on the table prior to indulging in the dish, but others have fully embraced the new climate of the food experiences. Snack food and fast food companies regularly share patrons’ photos on their social media feeds. Many restaurants offer free wifi and have upgraded their lighting systems to assist in the practice, as they see this as a win-win. Their patron wins the attention and likes of their followers, and the restaurant or brand gets free publicity.
The key, here, is that food is no longer simply a source of sustenance or a tasty treat — it’s an experience to share with friends and followers.