Last week, I went out to lunch with my mother. When a beautiful basket of pastries arrived at our table, I immediately pulled out my phone to take a few snaps in hopes that only one would end up Instagram-worthy.
My mother, visibly embarrassed, leaned over and whispered to me, “Maybe we should tell them you’re a journalist and that’s why you take pictures of food.
But that had nothing to do with me being a journalist – I’m just a millennial.
Yes, it’s now de rigueur to take pictures – or Boomerangs – of your meals and post them to Instagram, despite my mom’s obvious shame.
But not only do we use the photo-sharing social network to document what we eat, we use it to decide or to eat too.
A new study has revealed just how important Instagram is to millennials.
According to a study by Zizzi, 18-35 year olds spend five full days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30% would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram presence was low.
“All my friends check a restaurant’s Instagram page to see what we want when we go out for a meal,” said Georgie, a 23-year-old from London. The Independent.
In fact, it’s now normal to sit down in a restaurant having already decided what you’re going to order because you’ve spent a few minutes stalking on Instagram beforehand.
“Knowing what a dish looks like is really important when deciding what to order,” says Rosie, 24. “So I always go to Instagram first – not just the restaurant page, but also the geotag and sometimes also the hashtag.”
And Rosie is not alone.
“I like to check photos of places tagged on Instagram to see if I’ll be able to take an aesthetic photo,” says 21-year-old Rachel Marie.
“If I see a post on Facebook or Instagram or a delicious burger or fondue, I will look up where it came from,” adds Chryssiana.
Many restaurants have also taken advantage of the power of Instagram, especially if their target demographic is millennials.
One of these restaurants is Ben’s canteenwhich has two branches in South London and a strong presence on Instagram.
With a focus on big burgers and decadent brunches, the restaurant’s menu is highly Instagrammable. Plus, since around 70% of their customers are young women, they get a lot of Instagram messages from their diners — and actively cheer them on.
“Instagram is very important to us,” explained Ben’s Canteen founder Ben Walton. The Independent.
“It’s a good way to check if we’re resonating with our audience. If people post a lot of photos, we know we’re doing something right.
“It used to be that you wanted people to say good things about you, but word of mouth has evolved. If you want people to say good things about you now, you need to make sure your food looks good.
But it’s not just the food – Walton constantly updates the design and decor of its restaurants with Instagram in mind as well.
The same goes for the national restaurant chain, Invoices“We’ve seen Instagram play an increasingly important role in our communications strategy as the channel itself and our Instagram profile have grown in popularity,” said marketing manager Jack Carey. The Independent.
“As a social channel, Instagram has always been our most natural fit. Bill’s is such a visual brand; from the food to the decor of the restaurant and those two aspects are clearly big reasons people come to us.
“So we approach Instagram with the goal of creating an image for the customer rather than an opportunity to generate quick sales. For us, that’s not what social is (or should be).
And when a given dish or food — like freakshakes or cronut — becomes an Instagram sensation, he can see people lining up on the street to enter the restaurant and literally grab it.
Walton also uses the social network to keep track of competitors – “It’s constantly changing restaurants, which is great for customers.”
In addition, managing the Instagram account allows him to control what is really happening in his restaurants and to verify that the dishes are presented correctly.
He’s also very welcoming to bloggers: “I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to kiss people who are willing to talk about you in a positive way,” says Walton.
And blogs are another source of inspiration for millennials when it comes to finding a place to eat.
“I follow a lot of lifestyle and cooking blogs,” says Rosie. “And when one of them posts a review of a restaurant that I like the look of, I always add it to my list of places I want to eat. Blogging is a great way to find new restaurants.
And bloggers also know their own influence.
Angie Silver, luxury lifestyle blogger silver spoon london says she feels responsible for making sure her restaurant reviews are honest: “If I thought a restaurant was really awful, I probably wouldn’t,” she told The Independent.
But even when it comes to blog posts, it’s the images that have the most power: “I always look at the recommendation lists (blogs, articles, etc.) and choose the ones that have the most powerful images. more appetizing,” says Rachel, 25. of Bath.
Sometimes Instagram isn’t the first stop, but the second, as Adele from Bristol explains: “I always look for menus online, so I know the prices and also if there’s a vegetarian option that doesn’t isn’t just a “salad” or something boring.. Then if I like the way it looks, I might do some more research on Instagram or look for reviews.
In fact, a survey of millennial friends reveals that looking at menus online is normal when deciding where to eat — both for price and food options.
“I ALWAYS track menus first. I love deciding what to eat before I even go,” said Beth, 23, from London. The Independentadding that she uses Google Maps to plot restaurants she likes so that when she tries to choose where to eat, she can open the map and see what’s nearby.
And that’s not the only way millennials use Google Maps – “If I know where I need to be in terms of area, I look on Google Maps (sometimes for a specific type of food, sometimes I just type in ‘restaurants’ ), judge it by the pictures there, then maybe go to a restaurant’s website from the Google Maps screen to make a final decision,” says Londoner Jack.
It seems restaurant reviews from mainstream newspapers and magazines are losing their influence on millennials to online roundups, social media and influencers.
But while you might associate TripAdvisor with baby boomers, the website remains popular with people in their 20s as well.
Of course, word of mouth still plays a role, but what has changed is that word of mouth is now online.