To you, it may just be a sandwich. To the internet however, it is so much more.
Gone are the days that we can just eat our lunch. These days, before we can even consider taking a bite, we must first take a photo. And then Instagram it. And then Facebook it. And then Tweet it and Pin it and G+ that shi… shish kabob.
Marketers beware: This is not just a fad, it’s here to stay. People love looking at food and guess what? Your customers are no exception. No matter what industry you’re in, including photos of your lunch in your content marketing strategy is a simple and easy way to add a bit of fun to it. Still not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at this phe-nom-nom-nom (#foodjoke) and then discuss how you can optimise your lunch’s marketing potential.
Let the data tell the story.
We are currently experiencing the visual age of social media. Everywhere we look photos, GIFs and videos are fighting for our attention, both from a personal and marketing perspective. But the question is, if you only had 3 seconds on Facebook, where would you spend it? Reading your brother’s 3 line status, or watching the cat GIF in your newsfeed?
Statistics show that most people would choose the later, particularly because “how to make my cat love me” gets 390 average monthly Google searches, never mind the other crazy cat searches. But it’s not just the cat that gets our attention; it’s the type of content.
According to SocialTimes, nearly two-thirds of us are visual learners, which means photos, GIFs, memes and the like are no-brainers. As a bonus, visual data is processed much faster by the brain than text, which explains why we love those 3 second GIFs and 3-15 second Instagram videos.
Ok, so now we know we need to start creating more visual content (custom content to be precise. SocialTimes also reports that 78% of CMOs believe custom content is the future of marketing) but who or what should be the star of this content?
Why do we share photos of our food?
According to Digital Buzz Blog, 57% of users discuss food-related content on Pinterest, making it the social network’s top category. But why are we so obsessed with it?
There are plenty of reasons that people enjoy sharing photos of their food with the world. It’s a status symbol that gives others insight into the lifestyle we enjoy. It’s an expression of our identity and culture. It’s a communal activity, even if we’re sitting alone at the table.
And then of course, there’s the context we put around the photo that has a whole other reason behind it. These reasons run deeper and whether you’re brave enough to admit it or not, we’ve all fallen victim to framing up a photo in one of the following ways:
Guilt – You’re eating something bad and you feel bad. You’re slightly worried that someone might see you, so you post a picture with a caption like “Gotta love cheat day” to give the impression that this isn’t normal behaviour for you.
Recognition – You’ve got yourself in the kitchen and it wasn’t a total disaster so obviously you should share this moment of genius with the web.
Motivation – You’re on some sort of all spinach diet and are struggling to get yourself through another bowl of leafy goodness, so you share your “journey” with the world in search of inspiring comments.
Sympathy – Certain foods have become associated with certain emotions or life events. For example, ice cream is the global go-to breakup food. Therefore, if you post a photo of yourself gorging on Ben & Jerry’s while watching Bridget Jones Diary, you’ll spare yourself the hassle of explaining your recent breakup while still raking in the sympathy.
Attention – This one seems the most common. You are out at an expensive restaurant or trendy cafe and your meal is simply too gorgeous not to share. Bonus points if it gets photobombed!
I posted a picture of my Vegemite sandwich and it got more likes than my new job status. Why?
The research showed us that far from distracting us from more serious things, these viral pictures, videos, and memes reconnect us to an essential part of ourselves. And by understanding what’s at the root of our obsession with the visual web, brands can create the kind of content that resonates in today’s culture. -Abigail Posner, Head of Google’s Agency Strategic Planning Team
As Google’s Abigail Posner explains in her thought-provoking blog on why people share photos of cats so much, these seemingly mundane posts serve to “reconnect us to an essential part of ourselves.” Food is a basic element of survival and no one can deny that we love seeing it, we love talking about it and we love judging each other for eating it.
In addition, this “phone before forks” movement, as we’re going to call it, also thrives from our curiosity. We love knowing what other people are up to, how they view the world and why they might not share the same opinions as us (Really? You like Vegemite?)
How do I fit food into my brand image?
Just like everything else your brand posts, your food content needs to be inline with your brand. You might not think it, but food can actually be useful not only for satisfying your empty stomach, but also in cementing your brand image and helping your audience better relate to you.
Just take a look at American chain, Denny’s, for example. One might assume it’s easier for them to nail this food craze because they’re in the industry, but the reason they’ve become content marketing masters actually has little to do with food and everything to do with knowing and perfecting their brand image. If you want to learn more about how Denny’s became so successful, I strongly recommend this blog on their journey.
In essence, everything Denny’s posts has humour and a nostalgic feel to it that is important to their customers. As this famous family-style restaurant proves, knowing your brand personality and your customers is key to a successful content marketing strategy and will give you the freedom to post about almost anything, so long as it’s inline with your identity and caters to your personas.
How do I structure my food post?
There’s a whole buffet of potential customers out there waiting to engage with your lunch photos and between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Pintrest, it’s pretty much all you can eat.
Photos account for 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook, and according to Kissmetrics, they accumulate 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs than text-based posts.
When it comes to structuring your posts, Kissmetrics have shown that posts with questions generate 100% more comments than regular posts on Facebook and shorter posts see increased engagement as well (60% more for posts under 250 words, 66% more for posts under 80 words.)
How do I get that next level sandwich?
But wait! Food photos shouldn’t be the be-all-end-all of your content marketing strategy. There are so many other ways that you can get creative and display that sandwich in your customer’s newsfeed. Take for example…
The Food Gif: Get that sandwich moving. GIF’s, in case you haven’t heard, are kind of dominating the internet right now. Its a way to steal people’s attention in just a few seconds and it works! So get that lettuce flapping back and forth. People just eat that stuff up, like this one from Denny’s:
The Instagram Video: Show insight into your sandwich’s
personality. Show them the layers, the colours, the sauces. Show them what that sandwich is made of! Enjoy this video our designer Trudy made called “Muffin’ can stop me now!”
The Shocking Infographic: Get those alarming stats out there. Tell everyone what they don’t want to hear: We consume too much sugar and eat too much take-aways and alcohol. Or, do the opposite and talk about some health trends. Either one works.
The Cartoon Meal: Show your food having a laugh. Who says carrots and broccoli have to be boring?
The Food Blog: Write a blog about food that ties into your market and industry. For example: What Your Sandwich Says About Your Work Ethic; Why Eating at Your Desk is a Horrible Idea; 10 Reasons Why Stale Bread is Better than Tax Time.
The Lunch Testimonial: This isn’t a proper testimonial of course, but writing a one-line food review of a meal from a local restaurant will get your customers all hot and bothered. People love reading local reviews, plus, doing so really humanises your brand and gives your audience the impression (or illusion) that you don’t always eat lunch at your desk like a frantic business person, thus making you more relatable.
And finally, one of our personal favourites…
The meme: Put some sarcasm into that sandwich.
What’s your favourite way of incorporating food into your content marketing strategy? Leave me a comment (or buy me a sandwich. Just kidding, I actually hate sandwiches.)