Food and social media

Sharing your meal on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Lately, I’ve gone to a restaurant and enjoyed a nice meal, to find that either the people I’m sharing dinner with or other patrons at the restaurant are taking photographs of their food and sharing it on some type of social media. I’ve since learned and then followed suit and shared a photograph or two of a meal I thought was really good. When discussing this behavior with my friends and family, especially the young adults who are friends of my children and restaurant owners, I’ve learned that this is a common practice. Not only are people sharing restaurant dishes, but dishes at home and those at visiting friend’s homes.

With this social media trend, it is changing the way restaurants are marketing the food we eat. Here are some growing insights Michigan State University Extension thought were worth sharing, of the impact on food and social media and the awareness we need to learn and create.

For restaurants:

  • There are private companies that “market” for-profit for a restaurant and unfortunately include negative marketing if the restaurant refuses to pay for that type of marketing. The moral of this newer type of marketing is “don’t believe everything you read,” about a restaurant -- negative or positive, unless you know a reliable source of the comments or ratings.
  • Competitors will report negative ratings and comments on a restaurant’s Facebook page, to discourage other patrons from frequenting a given restaurant. Again, be careful, only believe a trusted source to any rating or comment, best try it yourself.
  • They will have to step up their game, because patrons will share immediately what they’ve eaten, what it looks like, how it tasted, what the service was like and recommend the positives and negatives.
  • Offering incentives to “like” their Facebook page or other social media networks could become meaningless if an establishment receives too many likes, but their product does not back up there “like rating.” The restaurant could get a false sense of security and learn the truth too late.
  • Immediately address negative comments posted through an establishment’s social media. Genuine customers will be happy to help a restaurant improve and be willing to give a restaurant another chance.
  • Learn what customers are learning about food and social media

For everyday cooks:

  • Step up your game, with my family and friends who are taking photographs of a dish or a spread. I’ve presented for lunch, dinner or a special occasion; I bring out the best dishes or tell them what I don’t want them to photograph. A tip, at some point you’ll find out that they’ve shared it anyway, especially if it was good.
  • Your presentation should improve, because we know our family and friends are sharing what they like and we might as well make it look better.
  • Learn who our family and friends like to share what they’ve eaten with and present accordingly.
  • Share what you do best, someone will always compliment your efforts and there’s nothing better than being appreciated
  • Realize that social media is now part of our lives and it will not go away.

Food and social media are now married to each other and we are the children. You can’t live without it and we can’t live with it. We will always follow along whether we want to or not and to a certain extent, it will force us to grow with them whether we want to or not.

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