The Social Media & Food Culture Connection

The Hartman Group/Publicis Consultants recently released a report on the Impact of Social Technology on Food Culture. As professional food service consultants and restaurant consultants – and as people who spend a lot of time eating and using social media – we thought this was a very relevant, and spot on, report.

Social media has not only changed the world we live in, but has revolutionized the food industry.  From making reservations online to consulting peer reviews, from researching recipes by ingredients to asking friends – and strangers – for THEIR mom’s recipes … the internet and social media are a delicious way to connect.

What makes it so exciting (and addictive)? It’s all at our fingertips. In this ever-changing medium, there has been an explosion of food-related social media centers of late, where there’s always a great new Twitter page, Facebook account or interactive website to follow.

Some of our favorites include:

Founding Farmers – as DC’s ‘Greenest Restaurant,’ Founding Farmers (FF) is dedicated to serving guests sustainable farm fresh food every day in an environmentally friendly environment. Follow FF for restaurant recipes, charity involvement, farm updates, and more.

Chef Jamie Oliver (@jamieoliver) – follow him not only for his yummy recipes, food tips and party planning ideas, but his passion! Through his Jaime Oliver Foundation, he’s dedicated to empowering, educating and engaging people to love and enjoy good food.

Food Spotting – follow and interact with these foodies as they find and recommend favorite dishes through the use of shared photographs.

Pinterest – an online pinboard where followers are invited to organize and share culinary finds and ideas.

Epicurious – the ultimate spot for recipes, menus, articles, food guides and more for those who love to eat.

Real Time Farms – where local area food and farms, farmers markets and eateries throughout the US are showcased.

Before you write-off the importance of using these types of sites to connect with your current and future guests, consider the facts:

  • The vast majority of online adults use social media regularly: 82% visit social networking sites monthly, 49% learn about food via social networking, 40% get food information via websites, apps or blogs, 9% downloaded a mobile food app within the past year, and only 5% scanned a “Quick Response” (QR) Code in a store in the past month.
  • Those who consume content outnumber those who create it: 60% of online consumers say they read social networking sites weekly.
  • Consumers still use traditional resources for food inspiration, but new technologies are catching up: while 31% say they are inspired by food tv shows, 25% are inspired by recipe websites or phone apps and 17% are inspired by restaurant review websites or phone apps. Hence, online media resources have surpassed print media as a consumer resource.
  • Social media is becoming our mealtime companion: 32% of consumers have either texted or used a social networking site or app in the last month while eating or drinking. This percentage jumps up to 47% for the twenty-something set.
  • Leading up to and during meals, consumers use social media to communicate and research: 24% respond to conversations, 21% seek out recipes and 21% research discounts, coupons and deals during this time.

The Bottom Line: social media is good for business. As experienced food service consultants and restaurant consultants, VSAG has embraced the social media phenomenon, and will strive to continue growing and evolving as a company in this ever-changing, fast-paced market.