Why cafes are catering to the hashtag
How does the phrase ‘I share therefore I am’ affect what restaurants serve you?
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Yesterday morning I was standing out the front of my regular coffee spot, waiting for my takeaway flat white. Usually I’d spend that time checking emails or scrolling Facebook aimlessly, but I’ve come to the realisation that I spend far too much time staring at screens, so recently I made a conscious effort to try and not look at my phone when I’m out in public.
As a result of this tech diet, I noticed two girls sitting together at a table not far from me, waiting for their breakfast to arrive. Nothing uncommon, both wearing gym clothes, focus shifting between the conversation and their iphones. The were gossiping about how a friend was making the wrong choices that would inevitably lead to her being single forever.
Once my focus returned back to the coffee shop I noticed the girls had their plates served to the table. I couldn’t work out what it was they had ordered, but the dishes were presented immaculately, like something you would expect to see on Pinterest or a food blog.
One of the girls hovered her phone above the table for 2 minutes, crafting the perfect image for her social networks, to share this beautiful meal with her friends who were sitting at work, in an office cubicle, sipping an Up n’ Go because they set their alarm to PM instead AM.
Then it hit me.
It actually matters how good this meal looks, because it’s her only evidence that it actually existed. It’s the only evidence that she is out living her life, experiencing what the world has to offer.
Thinking for a moment, I realised that the quality of this photo isn’t only based on her ability to craft the perfect image, there is another factor at play. Sometimes no amount of filters, contrast or cropping will save an ugly meal. That’s why #savourymince has 524 posts and #cheesecake has 2,856,187 posts on Instagram. There are foods that just aren’t visually appealing and may provoke some negative associations. This is not good for your personal brand.
How does ugly food affect business?
Every ugly meal served is a missed opportunity for free exposure to each customers social network. From a brand point of view, restaurants need take into account that as long as people are using social media, exposure to potential referred business is going to be impacted heavily by how shareable their food and experience is. It is their responsibility to provide this experience to their customers in a way that is visually stimulating whilst balancing their brand ethos.
It is important for all brands to acknowledge new technology and the impact of consumers sharing online, and not treat it as a passing fad, if they want to thrive in a fast moving, digital landscape.