This past May I sat in on a presentation from Paul Adams, the Global Brand Experience Manager from Facebook, at the WOMM-U conference in Chicago. A key takeaway from his presentation left me thinking that “the web is being built around people, rather than content.” From Pinterest to Google+ and everything in between, traditional human interactions are shaping the landscape of a digital world and there are few interactions that describe this better than the world of food. Today’s Friday5 explores how digital platforms are being utilized to connect every taste, bite and memory with an online conversation.
1. Pinterest + Organization
We inherently organize food on a daily basis. We categorize by meals, ingredients, food groups and more. Pinterest transformed this traditional experience, allowing us to share our unique food groupings, with a wider network of followers. For example, Hass avocados managed to create a Pinterest account with 28 different board categories all focused on recipe inspiration, party ideas and tips. When a user repins a recipe for guacamole, there is a good chance every user will pin it to a different board category. A dedicated guacamole lover might have an entire board for guacamole, where as an entertainer might categorize it with party ideas. Part of the beauty of Pinterest is that it allows us to think individually, while connecting with our larger social network. Outside of recipe collections, Pinterest provides valuable insight into how we think about food, beyond the meal itself.
2. Let’s Hangout
Thanks to Google+, 10 different people, 10 different meals and 10 different states can all come together in one place to share a virtual feast. It might not provide the ability to pass dishes, but it provides the emotional connection and conversation that translates food into a meal. With brands like Whole Foods joining the Google+ momentum, there is a natural opportunity for food brands to engage consumers directly in their kitchen, whether it’s through specialty tips or authentic conversation.
3. Visual Context
Instagram allows anyone to feel like a food photographer, from gelato in Italy to pancakes in Chicago; the popularity of sharing pictures of food is at an all- time high. They don’t come with attached recipes or additional incentives, but every image manages to capture our attention through a shared enthusiasm for food. When beautiful pictures of food are shared they do more than spark jealously, they ignite conversation. A recent Instagram post, referenced the authenticity factor of Instagram and that it doesn’t “feel like an advertisement.” With Facebook’s recent acquisition of Instagram, this provides a great opportunity for food brands to visually tell their story. Rather than recipe boxes, Instagram allows individuals and brands to create a memory box of meals.
In every group there is “that person,” the one who always knows the best restaurant and what to order. Check-in services like Foursquare, along with Twitter and Facebook updates, have revolutionized the dining out experience. Even with the enormous amount of restaurant reviews in magazines, newspapers and online, we never stop relying on a personal recommendations. The digital landscape does not replace this conventional conversation; it simply adds an additional layer. Brands, such as Starbucks*, are using the check-in phenomenon to encourage brand loyalty with various levels of badge opportunities. When it comes to the social media landscape, anyone can become a tastemaker in their own right.
5. A Family of Food Bloggers
Food bloggers have become more than a network, they’re a family. They bring to life their memories, experiences and tribulations with food and truly turn the kitchen into the universal meeting place. Within this story, there is a natural fit for brands to join the conversation; however, it relies on taking the time and research to find the best voice for a specific brand.
Whether it’s a plea for Matzoh Ball Soup during a cold or a touching story of peanut butter pie, there is always a story in food. The digital world will continue to evolve, alongside food; however, for every post, pin and tweet, I’m prepared to take it one bite at a time.
*Starbucks is an Edelman Client.
Image credit: NickNguyen