To get food inspiration we used to rely on the window displays of elaborate food shops, such as Choccywoccydoodah in Brighton's hidden lanes and Godiva's Flagship store in London's bustling Regent Street. Now we simply scroll through our Instagram or other social media feeds. With one in five of us posting a picture of food on social media each month it's no wonder food trends are being influenced heavily by social activity. Social media allows us to enjoy looking at beautifully crafted images or videos of food without spending any calories, whilst also having the freedom to recreate the recipe and share our own cooking adventures. Most people who share food pictures are just amateurs like me having a bit of fun, but it doesn't take long for those consistent foodies to become online influencers.
Crumbs and Doilies, nestled in Kingly Court in London, is one of my favourite examples of how social media can impact a business's success. In a recent interview when asked how Instagram has changed the food industry, Jemma Wilson, the face behind Crumbs and Doilies, commented "It’s opened up that barrier between chef and regular person. I love food visually and Instagram’s been the most amazing tool for that." Boasting more than 860,000 YouTube subscribers (one of them being me) Crumbs and Doilies was exposed to a whole new audience when YouTube sensation, Zoella, was given one of their eye catching cakes for her birthday. Their most popular video which shows viewers how to make 'The Best Ever Rainbow Cake' has now been viewed over 3 million times.
But why are so many of us sharing pictures of our food online? Some believe it's because it's easy to do. We all eat, but we don't all walk along beautiful sandy beaches watching the sunset. We make the most of the opportunities we have to take pictures. For others it's motivation, when they post pictures, they want it to be healthy and look nice so it keeps them accountable. Or maybe you're just like me, you have a passion for baking and need an outlet to share your latest creations.
With inspiration to cook coming from so many sources I know how easy it is to get lost in a sea of elaborately iced cupcakes and bowls of porridge piled high with nut butter and fruit. Many of these photos however are edited and filtered within an inch of their life with the help of a food stylist before ending up online, often giving us a skewed version of how our dishes should look. For many this can be why they admit defeat and decide to just stick to their cheese sandwiches. For others this can be the start of a new obsession with healthy eating or elaborate baking projects. In my case it's definitely the latter!
Amateurs will trust what they follow whether it's an individual food obsessed influencer or a programme such as The Great British Bake Off. Each episode of the Bake Off is not just a marketing opportunity for supermarkets, but also an event they have to plan for with ingredients used in the show regularly tripling in demand. Tim Shaw the Baking Buyer for Waitrose recently revealed the two month period of the Great British Bake Off is their third most important event of the year behind Easter and Christmas.
There isn't a magic recipe when it comes to utilising Instagram for brands. However, I believe it does help to do your research and start small with a realistic posting schedule. Looking at the humble beginnings of the most successful food accounts they didn't begin with a glitzy back drop or food stylist, but instead a quick snap of their dinner before it got cold. Whatever your resources it's likely if you have a passion for something there will be a like-minded audience out there waiting for content just like yours.