Tom Bracher
Tom Bracher 3 October 2018

Photogenic Food: How Instagram has influenced the food industry

If you thought Trip Advisor was the place to go for restaurant recommendations, you might want to take a look at Instagram instead, as this seems to be the new place to go for restaurant tips.

This evidence isn’t just found in reports either - with many chefs jumping to the support of Instagram when it comes to finding that all important local restaurant wherever you are in the world.

Ollie Templeton, Head Chef & Co-Founder of Carousel, told the Telegraph “I recently used Geo Tags to find the best little outside restaurant in Palermo (Sicily) which I wouldn’t have been able to find using TripAdvisor.”

The food industry has been heavily influenced by Instagram over the last few years - and research conducted by Pulsar Platform has suggested there are many unique micro-influencers amongst ‘foodies’ these days that bring the food audience on social media together. 

The image-based social platform has become such a major player in how we see our restaurants these days that many food outlets have kept the gram in mind when carrying out interior design projects - ensuring there’s enough lighting to take high quality food pictures for personal Instagram accounts. 

If you’re running your own restaurant, it would certainly benefit you to know that geo-tagged pictures on Instagram, taken by those who eat at your restaurant, can contribute towards inspiring others to taste what looks mouth-wateringly appealing on Instagram. 

There are even cases of Instagram contributing towards restaurants becoming major hits in their local area. Earlier this summer we saw pictures from a pop-up restaurant that turned their distinctive pork katsu sandwich the official dish of the season in the UK capital.

The hashtag that promoted it was #katsusando, and it came highly recommended by many of the foodie influencers active on social media - and it was the photogenic nature of the image that caught the eye of so many.

“It is worth pondering the sando’s uniquely Instagrammable properties and wondering if at least some of its recent ascendancy is down to aesthetics as much as hedonics. Would a crust-on sandwich, photographed top-down, really have gone as locally viral?” stated Eater London. 

The ability to make the most of instagram isn’t something that’s unique to those with a passion for food however. Last year a piece by Wired highlighted the rise of the “selfie-factory” and the introduction of the Instagram museum, with exhibitions focusing on experiential elements to improve engagement with consumers and get many of the exhibits trending online. It doesn’t matter whether it’s explicit recommendations or just indirect influence, Instagram is definitely influencing us when it comes to how we experience different forms of culture. 

This doesn’t necessarily impact the way in which review sites are growing and developing. BrightLocal, a business data company, says that Google Maps, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Foursquare are seeing rising numbers of reviews on their websites.

While trust issues may become an issue at times with TripAdvisor and Yelp, users might see Instagram as suspicious territory when it comes to spam or fake news. For now however, the bar for Instagram recommendations is set pretty low compared to other platforms, with IG popularity being seen as something that’s emerged from word-of-mouth.

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