BigHospitality caught up with digital marketing expert Karen Fewell, aka Digital Blonde, to come up with a step-by-step guide to using #foodporn as a marketing tool.
Step 1: Listen
According to Fewell, social media is the best market research you never commissioned. Look at who's talking about your food, what they're saying, when they're saying it (before or after eating, which day of the week), where (at the restaurant, at home) and why, and use this data to improve your business. For example, if people keep mentioning slow service on a certain day of the week, it might be a sign that staff working that day need more training. Additionally, take feedback about your dishes into account when preparing your menu.
Step 2: Protect your business
The problem with social media is that any issue in your organisation can be exposed instantly to the world. What if a mouse runs through your restaurant and someone takes a picture of it? What if a customer claims they got food poisoning after eating at your venue? Put yourself in these scenarios and ensure you have the right systems in place to respond to negative comments.
Step 3: Think about lighting
The worst #foodporn pictures are taken in dark restaurants, and flashes make dishes look flat and dull. Natural light is best for quality food photography, so consider it in your restaurant design. Alternatively, chefs like Tom Aikens provide their customers with professional pictures of their dishes.
Step 4: Post your own pics
Complementing customer pictures with your own will ensure positive imagery outweighs the negatives. post pictures of yourself preparing dishes, or of the plates in the kitchen - it will give personality to your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest accounts and attract customers.
Step 5: Encourage relevant hashtags
Hashtags will make pictures of your food easier to find and refer social media traffic to your business. For example, Fewell talked about a gluten-free afternoon tea she had at the Sanderson Hotel in London. As it looked just like a regular platter, she immediately wanted to tweet about it, and when she opened her napkin ring, inside was #MadHattersTea - a subtle way to suggest a personalised hashtag. At the time, she noticed over 1,000 pictures with that hashtag on Twitter, all referring to the Sanderson. The important thing is to make sure the hashtag matches your brand and image - you can use existing ones if they do, but feel free to create your own.