Future Implications

Recently, CNBC online published an article that posed a provocative question:

What will social media look like in 2039?

According to CNBC, there are 11 predictions related to the question above, woven together from top industry sources, CMOs, tech magnates and web enthusiasts alike. But while many of these crystal ball hypotheses are intriguing, isn’t the real question about whether or not these predictions becoming our next reality is contingent upon the advancement of technology on the whole? It’s the old chicken versus egg argument, coming back to haunt us, it seems…

Regardless, it is interesting to take a look at a few of these predictions which CNBC has highlighted in relation to this age-old conundrum:

1. Redefining the “eyewitness”

In 2039, breaking news will be ignited by those spectators on the ground floor, en masse, using smartphones, GoPros or other video technology that will allow us to create one seamless video from all angles. In essence, watching this compilation will give the average viewer the perspective of actually BEING THERE, in real time. Gone are the days of the traditional news anchor and here to stay is a new era where the innocent bystander, active protester and self-proclaimed spy will be creating our stories.

This isn’t that hard to fathom, as the wearables market is the latest tech craze to hit the mainstream. As people continue to seek ways to heighten the human experience, these devices will take center stage and push our ingenuity to the limits.

2. Social Media Expert = Typewriter Repairman

Today, the buzz inside company walls is all about WHO can manage social media accounts, create SME plans and govern the incoming data, both qualitative and quantitative. But, in 2039, children will be looking up words like “tweet” on brain augmentation devices while their grandparents (the social media ‘experts’ of yesteryear) will be looking back nostalgically about how they were once at the forefront of technology at the office while their bosses sagged behind the times or became crazed at the thought of misunderstanding social media platforms & capabilities, according to Gregory Galant, the founder of the Shorty Awards.

Comparing social media aficionado of today with the typewriter repairmen of yesterday isn’t too far of a stretch either. As the devices we use become more and more sophisticated and highly customized, there’s really no telling how far our ability to virtually interact with each other as humans can go. By their very nature, companies on the whole are always a step behind in their adoption of new technology compared to the individual user. Because collective behavior is harder to change than one person’s, technology will continue to first show its true potential on a personal basis.

3. Size really WON’T matter. 

Mobile tech is at the heart of this predication. Now that we have become used to traveling with all the information in the universe at our fingertips, we will see an explosion of voice-commanded platforms and holygraphic displays, which will render the argument over the benefits of one more inch on your iPhone’s screen obsolete.

Here, technology makes the first move. As long as mobile tech gives us the ability to do exactly what we do now, most people are happy with smartphone tech and the way it assists their daily lives. BUT, when the “what ifs” are applied to this technology, things change. If the handheld devices can morph into completely different items that promote our loyalty to the online world even further, personal behavior will swiftly follow suit in new and exciting ways.

4. Hyper-personalized content will become the norm.

We’ve heard about the excitement (and anxiety) generated in the mainstream by the advent of predictive analytics. But most industry experts feel that this is only the beginning. In 2039, predictive analytics will make it possible for each individual user to access data that is hyper-personalized to them. Not only will the quality of the data they retrieve be exceptionally on-target and befitting to their unique needs, wants and desires, but the amount of that kind of specialized data will be universal and extreme in quantity.

While analytic technology is advancing all the time, software engineers and data firms specializing in cyber security are also in the throws of innovation and development, out of necessity. Before we begin to see hyper-personalized experiences take shape online as individuals, ancillary technology that keeps us safe and guards our identities, privacy, and personal data must occur first. Psychologically, consumers take action out of the intrinsic need to protect themselves everyday, and this will not be changing any time soon. The key will be to keep privacy discussions at the heart of analytics advancements if 2039 is to be an age that values the user’s humanity as much as it does their data and marketable stats.

 

 

Differentiation: Social Showdown Between Williams-Sonoma & Sur la Table

Today’s Battle of the Brands presents two culinary powerhouses in the retail sector: Williams-Sonoma and Sur la Table.

Which of these gastro-focused giants comes out on top in the world of social media strategy?

ws logo

As direct-to-consumer e-sales counted for 43% of its annual revenue in 2013, there’s no doubt that Williams-Sonoma is a savvy conductor of the e-commerce gravy train.

In fact, LinkedIn shows a new role opening at the VP level for a Brand Marketing, PR & Social Media leader to deepen the brand’s reach and engagement online. In 2014, social media competence leads the brand’s marketing strategy, according to CEO Laura Alber, who says, “we wish to…further integrate the rapid developments in digital technology into every aspect of our business.”

The brand sees Pinterest as a key influencer. The site’s analytics report claims a ROI rate of $0.78 per pin towards sales online and increased web traffic months after the initial pin is posted. Williams-Sonoma populates this platform heavily: new boards and pins ranging from housewares, cookware, chef needs, holiday recipes, event venues and seasonal offerings are just a few of the categories vying for exposure:

ws pinterest

Williams-Sonoma also seeks to make user experience a seamless one. On the homepage, the brand promotes its corporate blog, aptly entitled, Taste. It’s an integral part of the social strategy, housing guest posts for recipes and entertaining tips as well as a “How-To” segment for all cooking/tasting/hosting needs. Conveniently to the right, one can read latest tweets, watch Instagram reels, link to its Facebook page and find other top food and phoodie blogs in the culinary world:

ws blog

 

The YouTube Channel for Williams Sonoma is also based on the concept of developing customer “loyalty through learning”, which is becoming a paramount practice in the SME world. Cooking can be intimidating and its categories overwhelming. The channel (388 videos with 21,674 subscribers strong) features all kinds of videos that demonstrate techniques from the most basic knife skills (hosted by a celebrity chef, of course) to cooking “classes” that feature exotic dishes from around the world:

Now that we have seen the breadth of social media activity for Williams-Sonoma…enter the Challenger:

slt logo

Right from the start, Sur la Table could learn a thing or two from its rival. It’s brand design, evoking visions of Provencal landscapes and French old-world charm, is a clear identity, surely. But why bury all SME links to the bottom of the page, highlighting each with only the smallest icons available? The art of social selling depends on methods of modernity, even if your brand’s imagery is decidedly the opposite.

Sur la Table has the same target audience as its competitor, so it makes sense that the homepage is filled with food photography and housewares images of great quality and luxurious scenes.  But while Williams-Sonoma promotes its social media platforms, Sur la Table focuses on the power of the review:

slt review

Kevin Ertell, VP of E-commerce, explains, “We have passionate customers who use our site to research prior to purchasing in-store, to curate and share product collections, as well as for ultimately purchasing.” To follow through on this strategy, Sur la Table launched an analytics campaign to monitor brand mentions and conversations in the social media realm. Ertell also added value to the e-shoppers’ user experience by creating “My Collections”. Customers shop for their favorite item, see similar ones other shoppers have bought, create a personal collection based on the results, and then share it with circles of family and friends on Facebook and Pinterest:

slt collections

 Certainly, this kind of innovation in the SME space shows a keen sense of customer-focus for the brand. Unfortunately, this part of the site is hard to find, as it is not a link on the main menu but found through the  “Cooking Community” link in the top right of the screen. First rule in UX: make link names consistent for easy navigation.

In direct contrast to its competitor, Sur la Table has nearly three times as many YouTube videos published on its corporate channel but only one forth of the subscribers. Its channel goal is similar: product and cooking education. But view counts per video are relatively low and the styling looks dated (and not in an old-world charm kind of way, regrettably). But in the visual content arena, Sur la Table does excel at Instagram over Williams-Sonoma, mainly because it promotes “behind the scenes” views of its cooking classes, chef demos and staff kitchen scenes, an Instagram best practice:

slt instagram

So, who’s on top?

While both brands have similar SME platforms, Williams-Sonoma is clearly the front runner. Its social strategy is widely promoted and the UX flows nicely. Sur la Table may want to keep its current strategy but it needs to be more focused on showcasing its SME platforms more prominently so that engagement can be more accessible.

Victorious Vittles: Social Success in Foodiedom

If anything is good for pounding humility into you permanently, it’s the restaurant business.

–Chef Anthony Bourdain

Of all the industries I can think of, the food world is the most daunting to me. Talk to food people: farmers, chefs, restaurateurs, cooks on the line, dishwashers, servers, bartenders, hosts and hostesses. They’ll tell you what’s up:

This business will pulverize and extrude you faster than a mix of pork parts in an industrial meat grinder.

Everyone in the food world is on social media, and that’s a good thing, if not a necessity. But how do you stay focused in your strategy and do it well enough to truly engage with your audience?

Let’s take a look at some culinary creatives rocking it out in the Twitterverse and Blogosphere:

Twitter Best Practices: It’s all about the Tao

In his book, “The Tao of Twitter”, Mark Schaefer argues that the key to winning in this platform is to follow a basic formula:

Targeted Connections   +   Meaningful Content   +  

Authentic Helpfulness

Foodies are in a flock all their own, and what a connected and squawking bunch they are, too. Critics follow chefs, chefs follow bloggers, bloggers follow culinary publications, and so this social spanakopita gets more and more layered. But mostly, foodies are the hungriest of subcultures…for information as well as tasty treats. They want to know everything about the culinary world and a few gourmands on Twitter are setting the example for “authentic helpfulness.”

Let’s say you’re a foodie touring Rome (if this is true, hit me up ’cause we should be friends). Rick Steves can get you to the piazza, but NOT the pizza in these parts. So…why don’t you ask someone?

Not just anyone, though…

Why don’t you ask Mario Batali? You know, the GREATEST Italian celebrity chef on planet Earth? Yeah, ask him:

Mario Rome

Thanks, Mario. And three suggestions, at that. Well, when in Rome!

Like Schaefer says, “People throw questions out there all the time. Answer them or refer them to somebody who can.”

Well, let’s say you’re making an anniversary dinner for your honey. You’ve got fish in the pan…now what?

Don’t worry. Mario’s got your back:

Mario recipe

Whew, that was a close one. Almost had to file for divorce. Good lookin’ out, Mario.

Now, if you are in the restaurant business, the best way to engage your audience is to be genuine in your appreciation of their patronage. Especially if your food isn’t…it’s not exactly…ummm, well…it’s a little strange…

Like Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 Restaurant in NYC kinda strange. Molecular-gastronomy strange. I mean, here’s a guy who works with liquid nitrogen like you and I work with canola in the kitchen. His work space may look like a meth lab, but it produces culinary masterpieces.

But, how would you know? He’s gets that unless you are a die hard foodie (and there aren’t many of us that will try ANYTHING) you may not seek him out–or his white beer ice cream, pureed popcorn, or chocolate toffee poprocks, for that matter.

I’m not making this up.

So, he’s putting Schafaer’s “Tao” to good use, since, “Nothing says I love you like a retweet now and then.”:

Schaefer also says, “Show gratitude. If someone’s helped you out, be sure to thank her publicly.”:

Wylie thanks 2

Yes, GRATITUDE. Even beef bile deserves a little tweet-love.

But what blogging? Twitter has it’s pros but at 140 characters, it can also be limiting. After all, food is about stories. Blogs are the champions of this kind of content, and food bloggers know how to tell some seriously tasty kitchen tales.

Like cooking, blogging is an art form and requires special skill. According to Li & Bernoff, co-authors of “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technology” , some of the best practices in blogging are as follows:

“Remember, blogging is more than writing. To be a successful blogger, you should start by monitoring the blogosphere and responding to what else is out there, not behaving as if you are in a vacuum.”

A great example of this is Jessica Merchant of the phoodie blog “How Sweet Eats”. In addition to her sumptuous photos she includes a special page of her site dedicated to other food blog content she loves on the web, every week.

crushing on

Talk about spreading the “link love”!

Next,

“Be honest. People expect a blog to be a genuine statement of a person’s opinion. This doesn’t mean you can’t be positive about your company…sometimes bad things happen to good people…”

Even Jessica has her “off” moments as an award-winning foodie. She unashamedly posts her annual “Recipe Disasters” posts, complete with pics, for no other reason than to humble herself to her audience:

Jess Fail

 

Want to learn about more best practices in Twitter and Blogging? Check out my social media boards on Pinterest!

 

Gastro-nomical Consequences: Going Social (or not) in Food Brands

There’s a good reason why the above meme, and all its variations, for Instagram went viral:

Food images, conversations, interactions and themes have all but swamped the digital media landscape. Food & Beverage boards are the main thoroughfare of Pinterest, Restaurant “pages” on Facebook are the hottest thing since “insanity” pepper sauces, and Twitter fans can’t tweet enough about how they want to share a Coke with you.

But let’s face some serious foodie facts: social media isn’t for those with weak stomachs. Just because you can withstand the assault of hedonistic gluttony upon your intestines during a high-roller Vegas buffet does not mean that you won’t shrink like a sauteed shitake when the online masses come calling for your head on a spit if they detect something fishier than that tuna steak on their plate. Food brands, bloggers, culinary critics and restaurant owners know that social = serious business.

In addition, today’s market is far more focused on social obligations, some concerning the realm of food itself but more often it’s also about knowing a company’s ethics and brand integrity. Here are some questions ALL food brands should anticipate from the consumer (along with corresponding social media blunders):

And the list goes on…if stories like these leak into the media mainstream, be it from an errant tweet, undercover video to YouTube, or Facebook rant, you’ve got a fiasco that could well go viral within hours and severely damage your brand.

The moment that a food brand decides to go social, the above questions (and corresponding messages) must be considered from the very beginning. Social media is not a method for pushing a brand’s message. Social media is about fostering foodie loyalty by developing genuine relationships online, directly with those that consume your products. Those people want to connect with brands in ways that give the it a personal face as opposed to a logo. And that relationship needs to be built on trust and transparency.

The bottom line: if you aren’t on social media, you must be hiding something. At least, that’s the message sent by the absence of brand engagement on these platforms. Either that, or you simply don’t want to know what they think and who they are as customers. In that case, would YOU bother paying for a product who’s brand wasn’t interested in your opinions and preferences?

Didn’t think so…

As a matter of fact, there’s a term for this type of “social shyness” that companies suffer from in their lack of involvement on social media. It’s called Cost of Ignoring (COI) and, across many industries (including food & beverage) these costs are substantial within five areas:

1. Customer Service

Response time is key. Take a look and see how many brands use Twitter to immediately respond to customer feedback. Sometimes it’s with a coupon for later, and other times it reinforces the brand identity (like below).  How else can you hear what’s said about you in the Twitterverse or Blogosphere, let alone respond?

2. Reputation Management

Monitor your @mentions, reply to your Facebook fans, sponsor charities, retweet your followers…all play roles in securing how your brand is perceived in the marketplace before someone else defines it for you…like your socially-savvy competition. Remember that print is dead and everyone has DVR. Your ads and commercials won’t cut through the clutter.

3. Crowdsourcing

Contests are becoming the flaky crust of the social media pie. They act as the packaging for all your social media themes in one. Getting your “fans” to choose your next flavor of ice cream, energy drink, potato chip or frosted doughnut will have your brand cashing in on sales well before the product hits the shelves. These case studies prove it.

4. Collaboration

Why only focus on social media with your customer base? Your own employees can promote stories better than your C-Suite often times, and you WANT their stories circulating because of their inherent integrity. Starbucks achieved great brand equity in one of their barista’s in the UK this way; a story that went viral on Facebook first in a little under a day!

5. Recruitment

By it’s very nature, food is personal. Therefore, the people who love food enough to work inside the food & beverage industry are personable people, who most likely have strong social profiles. If you don’t know who they are or how to find them, some other tasty brand will.

Mobile Munch & Crunch: The Evolution of Facebook Restaurant Pages

It’s no secret.

Facebook is the largest social media platform there is alive today, showing no signs of slowing down. Its most recent quarterly earnings report made all financial analysts take note and the stock is soaring higher than expected. Contrary to prior concerns this year that people were choosing to leave Facebook in favor of other sites, Facebook is showing a steady incline in usership covering all major age groups and cultures. Facebook’s ironclad grip on the mobile market is substantial, with over 81% of its 1.32 billion account holders using the mobile app in 2014, according to Time Magazine. The app is also the most downloaded on iTunes and Google Play for any smartphone. That said, the global impact of Facebook cannot be denied:

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 10.13.03

(Infographic courtesy of TechCrunch.com)

But the mere fact that Facebook has gone mobile so successfully is only part of the story, especially when it comes to one of its most loyal and therefore, highly active, subcultures: the foodies. Facebook’s mobile app has a few tricks up its sleeve, making the case that it’s popularity is derived from how well the platform has diversified its range of content, and foodies are experts at its manipulation. In fact, the food & beverage sector could be a microcosm example of any industry that elects to use Facebook’s features to spread word of mouth, promote trends, generate buzz, stage events, and share reviews, regardless of your status as a food lover or creator…here’s why:

1. Restaurants Relish FB

Foodies keep detailed records on their Facebook timelines of where they have checked in, what they ate (this will most likely include “plate pics,” of course) and with whom they dined. Before they even arrive to chow down, however, they very well may use Facebook to research dining options in their area by polling friends, downloading promotions, searching for food-event announcements, etc. After all, restaurants place a lot of content on their own pages to entice patrons to chose their place over the culinary competition:

Restaurants using Social Media Infographic

(Infographic courtesy of Visual.ly.com)

Notice the prevalence of the purple-blue box with the white “f”?

Yep. Thought so.

2. Facebook & Platform Pals 

Facebook allows phoodies to share their own content via Instagram directly to their page. It will announce what recipes you have pinned from Pinterest in your news feed for all of your other foodie friends to see. You can link to YouTube videos embedded in statuses of chefs you follow to watch them instruct you on how to cook perfect pasta, as seen here:

Notice a trend here? All of these platforms are also mobile apps, that’s true. But NONE of these platforms individually allow you to interact with every one of them all at once, from one original source. This means efficiency and freedom of expression across all planes of social media–a foodie’s dream. It’s the same for chef’s pages too:

MARIO_crop

(Screen shot of Mario Batali’s Facebook page–note the other social media apps by which you can sort his content on the left column)

3. Delicious Dining Deals

…can be found on Facebook pages specifically created and maintained by restaurants. Earlier this year, Facebook announced that its Restaurant Pages could now be used to share menu offerings. Restaurants took full advantage of this new development and began to also offer special happy hour drinks, appetizer deals, group discounts off your end-of-night tab and other kinds of redeemable promotions exclusively to their Facebook fans. Some of these deals were posted in print media with the option of using QR codes to link to Facebook to redeem them, or displayed on postcards per table to encourage patrons to use their Facebook app as they took their seats to dine:

 

 

 

As a matter of fact, Facebook has appointed Steve Governale the point person for Restaurant Pages at the company, who was recently quoted on the National Restaurant Association’s website as having said:

“We know value matters more than ever in the industry and many restaurants are re-thinking coupons and deals by taking advantage of Facebook offers for in-restaurant redemption.”

Clearly, restaurants that have utilized Facebook pages for menu promotions and special deals that cater exclusively to the mobile account holders are seeing increases in the number of patrons coming through their doors. Often, these offers are meant to lure in new customers as much as loyalists, which means a better chance of cascading word-of-mouth advertising for the establishment. The results from Facebook’s Restaurant Pages has been so successful, in fact, that there is now an entire section of the NRA’s website devoted to its use for owners of restaurants to learn about marketing & sales best practices with Facebook.

It’s obvious that restaurants and foodies alike are enjoying (and profiting from) Facebook’s mobile app and all of its features.

So…let’s “check in” somewhere & eat something to celebrate;)

 

 

Yelp.com: The Social Power of Yums (or Yikes!) in Food

 …cooking, we know, has a way of cutting through things, and to things, which have nothing to do with the kitchen. This is why it matters.”

~ Nigella Lawson, How to Be a Domestic Goddess

Isn’t that just how it is? Food is the gateway to many of our deepest human connections and has served as a sensual backdrop to some of our most treasured memories in life–with others.

Is it any wonder that human kind would thus embrace social media forums to continue (and expand!) their love of food and drink?

All you have to do is check out my “Lip-Licking Links” page to see the most famed foodie ambassadors work their magic on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. But, without question, the SME platform most generally known in the world of food is Yelp.com.

Yelp is an online review forum that shares hundreds of millions of critiques of chefs, their menus, food presentation, customer service, cleanliness, etc., you can guess how much content is generated. According to Quantcast, Yelp averages a monthly tally of 110.4M unique visits, the majority of which are from ages 24-35 (the mobile and moneyed kind.) In fact, Yelp’s mobile app makes perfect sense considering foodies are also culinary explorers. Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it:

Smartphone Food Infographic

(Above Infographic courtesy of www.Mashable.com)

But, there’s a problem. The same thing that makes Yelp attractive (i.e., anyone can post) is the same thing that undermines its credibility, at least according to the foodie elite. After all, do you really think the hungover frat boy who mows your lawn in the summer knows his pappardelle from his tagliatelle

Regardless, Yelp enthusiasts claim that the site prevents them from having to stress about that dreaded, age-old question:

“What’s for dinner?”

Yelp’s power is rooted in how you’re more likely to trust your friend than you are an ad. And these days, we’re all at least potential friends on SME. Yelp’s popularity comes from how it gives you a solution to a problem that plagues us, three times a day at minimum, not just dinner. If you’re too busy, too tired, too stressed, or too lazy to fire up your own stove, you want to know where you can go eat that won’t disappoint. What better way to narrow your choices (and see what’s most convenient) than by checking with Yelp to see where everyone else rates as tasty and close by?

Regardless of where you personally stand on the points raised above, sites like Yelp could stand to further aid the food industry with a few adjustments to its platform. While Yelp claims the strongest foothold in the online review market, other sites such as OpenTable, used to make reservations at restaurants in advance and on the fly, are partnering up with apps like Foodspotting to give it a serious edge. In early 2013, OpenTable purchased Foodspotting for $10M in an effort to carve out a more unique foodie niche compared to Yelp’s review-dominant site.

Here’s how it works, and it’s one of the best examples of social media intersections there are out there:

Imagine that you are hungry for a sandwich. Instead of searching Yelp for nearby delis, you can now search for “sandwich” using Foodspotting and presto! Feast your eyes on a rolling slideshow of layered sammies, subs and panini available to you, NOW, in your vicinity.

Coolest thing since they put the pocket in pita, right?!?!

Foodspotting mines Instagram, Pinterest, and general web photos of sandwiches from your area’s restaurants using the GPS in your smartphone:

Now, you just look for the sandwich that most appeals to you visually AND reserve your seat using OpenTable all in one go. As your destined meal arrives, take a moment to upload your own Instagram of it to the site. Then, rate your meal, all in one continuous app-tastic experience!

But what if it went even further, integrating other apps and platforms and their competitive advantages?

Examples:

  • Loyalty: Once you “check in” to the restaurant using OpenTable, receive a link for that establishment’s Facebook page for special deals, events and upcoming menu changes
  • Weight loss: Have each photo in the Foodspotting slideshow tally total calories (with the ability to download them into an app like MyFitnessPal once you’ve made your choice)
  • Health Concerns: Each photo to include restaurant scores specific to food safety or environmental health, etc. from OSHA and other accrediting bodies (or tells you if a dish is free of dairy, nuts, gluten and other allergens)
  • Networking: Ability to tweet the person who posted the Instagram photo you used to choose your meal
  • Education: Link to a YouTube video that profiles the chef who created your meal/shares their unique culinary perspective

Can you think of any more? Comment below!

The Rise of the “Phoodie”: Foodie Photographs on Pinterest and Instagram

Let’s be honest: there are people, and then there are people who love FOOD.

They’re called foodies, and it’s a special breed. A tribe whose members actually say things like, “No really, I am just here for the food,” or, “Let them eat cake!” when times get tough, sans shame. But if you care about eating at all (and you do, right?), you want to know us.

Yep, I’m one of them. In my world, Heaven is best defined as a never-ending smorgasbord of delectable delights and excessive weight-gain is considered sexy.

But there’s a new classification of foodie on the rise: the “phoodie.” They are the culinary artists and documenters who have taken our taste bud-driven subculture to the forefront of social media, all with the help of Pinterest and Instagram. Phoodies possess vast cooking know-how and an arsenal of camera skills to boot. Some are bloggers, journalists, recipe testers/reviewers and even professional chefs! But like a good Chinese buffet, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

But…why are they so popular?!?

Easy, folks: They make us want to eat…everything.

Here’s how:

Phoodies on Pinterest: Boards and pins about food are the #1 category for Pinterest content, making up 18% of the site and owning 57% of all user interactions. Phoodies have been a big part of these stats for the following reasons:

1. Food blogs. There are over 17,000 of them, and their goal is simple: unadulterated culinary voyeurism. The larger the camera’s frame, the larger the image of that gooey cheese, oozing like molten lava down the crusty, buttered ridges of golden Texas toast on a griddled sandwich can be! Food bloggers pin their own recipes using their own photos, usually shot in their home kitchens, using exceptionally high-end equipment and lighting. Many have trained themselves in the art of food styling. The result: an image of a gourmet popsicle that will make even a native Eskimo salivate in the dead of December…

(Photo courtesy of www.SmittenKitchen.com)

So, you know you’re gonna re-pin that, right? You’ll probably follow their boards too, so you can drool at will later on…

2. Recipe sharing. With 80% of “pinners” being women, it’s no wonder that recipe sharing is a big factor in re-pinning statistics. Phoodies can become major influencers on Pinterest once they have a following. In fact, the largest following on Pinterest overall is Joy Cho, a phoodie who commands 13.8 million devotees. She knows the value of food in a social sense: whatever you post yourself or pin to your own boards better appear so seductive that it makes other phoodies/food enthusiasts (or soccer moms, for that matter) want to re-pin what you have. Most often, the top re-pins for food are for favorite recipes for all kinds of culinary categories and, since the site keeps a count of how many re-pins a photo has, it’s easy to see what’s popular within the foodie community. And don’t you want to be popular? Don’t you want to eat what the phoodies are eating, or what they say is good to eat??? Of course you do.

(Photo courtesy of Lori Lange, Phoodie Influencer and author of Recipe Girl)

The Phoodie on Instagram: According to Webstagram, “#food” alone results in 121 million hits and is more likely than the majority of other categories to generate “likes” and comments on Instragram. Add in all the other food-related keywords’ counts and you’ve got hundreds of millions of foodie-photo-fanfare, all thanks to these kinds of phoodies:

1. Eat-Out Addict. They can be a server’s worst nightmare, as they must photograph every meal when they dine out. However, they can also have a significant influence on restaurant reviews and loyalty. Phoodies in this category have huge followings on Instagram, especially ones that show the latest food trends, or dishes at restaurants that are popular at the moment. Unlike Pinterest, these shots are posted in real time so as to document someone else’s culinary mastery (i.e., the chef of the establishment.)

(Above: Example of Instagram used to chronicle dining experiences and reviews with followers)

2. Professional Gourmands. Instagram has a wide variety of food stylists, chefs, restaurateurs, recipe developers and food columnists that are incredibly popular. These phoodies may use high-end photography or not, but they are all using Instragram to entice. Chefs post their next seasonal menu ideas, or a shot that displays ingredients untouched with a caption of, “Guess what I’m making?” Journalists chronicle their trips to farmer’s markets, restaurant/bar openings, or exotic locales for seasonal delicacies. Through food snapshots, their followers can travel with them on “foodie beats.”

(Photo courtesy of Comodo restaurant in NYC that went live in 2014 with an all-Instagram menu)

So, basically what we’ve covered here is this: Phoodies make food look good.

Hungry yet? Click below and leave a comment with your own sources!