Published on November 18, 2018, at 3:45 p.m.
by Anna Jones.
There are 2.34 billion worldwide social media users according to Statista.
Although this number allows social media to impact many industries, according to Social Media Today, the food and restaurant industry is one of the top industries that benefit from this tool. In fact, an article published by Modern Restaurant Management states that 28 percent of food businesses believe social media is one of the best types of advertising.
“The best marketing for a restaurant is word of mouth, but for me, social media is second to that because your customers are the word of mouth,” said Jennifer Mims, owner of Real & Rosemary . “They can help you reach their audience online and bring in new people to the restaurant.”
Social media has become a vital tool in the food industry because it is inexpensive, spreads news quickly, and allows consumers to use their most dominant sense — eyesight.
“People eat with their eyes first, and by being able to consume that food via the internet first, I think that drives a lot of the traffic that can really help elevate a chef’s career, and it can really help drum up business for a new restaurant,” said Cara Sinicropi, blogger for Mirrors and Mimosas.
Because people eat with their eyes, social media allows restaurants to create press for themselves. According to Sinicropi, chefs get the opportunity to showcase their innovation, creativity and restaurant culture by posting about their dishes and restaurants on social media.
“It is definitely making a culture of where people will go to a city, and they will already know the food places that they want to go to, because they have seen these restaurants on social media,” said Nora Wahlbrink, owner of The Food Mood Instagram .
“As a restaurant owner, I found that in today’s age, every aspect of a restaurant needs to be Instagrammable,” Mims said. “Everything needs to be done in such a way that you would be proud if it were broadcast, because essentially social media is like a billboard for whoever is in that community.”
While there are many benefits of social media’s role in the food industry, it also presents some challenges. One is how quickly a bad review or customer experience can spread when broadcasted on social media. This possibility makes it crucial for restaurants to take advantage of the open dialogue social media provides and respond quickly to the criticism.
Another challenge social media presents to restaurateurs is how to accurately represent the restaurant experience. Photos can only tell so much about a restaurant, so showcasing the food is just as important as showcasing the experience.
“Our restaurant is very service-oriented, and sometimes it can be a challenge to try to communicate that in a different format,” Mims said. “We are fairly understated, and it is our goal to make the food and service speak for itself.”
Social media can tell a lot about a restaurant. Therefore, Mims overcomes this challenge by ensuring that everything posted on Real & Rosemary’s social media is examined under the same lens that determines which dishes are added to the menu and what decorations are displayed throughout the restaurant.
Overall, social media appears to play a huge role in not only the success of a food business, but also in foodie culture as a whole. It allows consumers to share their experiences with each other, driving business to these restaurants. Social media benefits the producer and the consumer, which further emphasizes its importance in food industry.
“Food is an art form; it’s not just something we can consume, and it’s not just a bonding experience,“ Sinicropi said. “It’s such a multi-level, layered experience where we spend hours of time making active decisions about what to eat, who to eat with, where to go, and I think it is such a wonderful way to bring people together with shared interests over social media.”