Many operators are implementing a social media strategy at some level; the key is to exert positive influence on the perception of your restaurant and menu items. While you have control over things like your own site and Facebook page, there is a lot of room for customers to influence the perception of your food.
Yelp, Facebook, Instagram and other social sharing sites are the platforms through which guests are sharing their experiences and recommendations. With 135 million monthly unique visitors, Yelp is one of the most influential sources that consumers seek when deciding where to eat. According to Grubbin.net, 83 percent of smartphone users rely on their phone for dining decisions when traveling. A recent trendwatch in Restaurant Hospitality notes the following regarding this trend:
“What’s the first thing we do when we’re on the road in an unfamiliar city and looking for a great dining experience? We search review sites on our phones, of course, because we trust other diners more than we trust advertisements. Savvy restaurant managers that understand this encourage diners to share photos and comments. The next step: plate your dishes and light the dining room to make the food look its best.”
Facebook is now an established marketing platform and Instagram is growing in prominence as more brands create accounts. Millennials exude their influence on social media, whether their experience is positive or negative, and pictures are part of the equation. Take for instance the rising success of Shake Shack. This smaller burger chain now has nearly 160,000 Instagram followers. These followers collect their meal, pose with it like it’s an Academy Award and upload, upload, upload.
What nearly all forms of social media have in common is the ability to share product photographs. This is particularly important with images of food, since it’s been discovered by science that visual perception greatly effects the perception of taste. Your customers are going to take photos of the food they order anyway. To ensure the shots they take show your food at its best, there are three simple tips to better food photos:
- Lighting – This is most important factor, good lighting is the secret to any kind of photography. Depending on the atmosphere and décor, you will want to consider shifting the orientation of tables or interior lights so that food is always lit distinctly and attractively.
- Plating – Everyone is plating for appearance, but the key difference is to remember that tall food doesn’t photograph well. Plating dishes to be flatter results in better shots. The plates themselves are important too, square plates can create distracting angles, most professional food photographers use round plates for this reason.
- Texture – Texture is important because it simulates the sense of touch. Simply put, variations in texture increase the level of contrast, and therefore visual interest in an image. Texture can make food look more appetizing and inviting, even, as the L.A. Times notes, “sensual.”
Good photos will help drive sales and following these tips will put you on the right track to ensuring your customers are taking the best shots.