Phone Eats First: How Restaurants are Capitalizing on the Foodie

In a world where people disagree on so many things, there’s one thing that all of us can agree on: the importance of food in our daily lives. While food works to physically sustain us, it also has become ingrained within our social culture. Celebrations of all kinds revolve around food. Holidays have specific foods that accompany them, and catching up with friends or family at restaurants and cafes is a commonly shared experience. Thanks to television, movies, advertisements and billboards, and social media like Instagram and Snapchat, pictures of food are posted literally everywhere. 


Rewinding into the past couple years, websites like Zagat and TripAdvisor were popular for finding new restaurant recommendations. Rewind a little further and you’d see more of a newspaper or magazine type vibe, and even further back you’d see the good ‘ole word of mouth concept used. Now, fast forward to present day. When it comes to searching for drool-worthy pictures of food and drinks, there is simply no shortage of options on Instagram. Over the past couple of years, thousands of self-proclaimed “foodies” have created instagram accounts inspired by food, showcasing pictures of one mouthwatering dish after the other. These food accounts, such as the infamous @new_fork_city, partner with restaurants, cafes and bars throughout New York City, and post pictures of a restaurant’s popular dish, followed by tagging the restaurant’s location. You can find food accounts for almost every major city, and these work to spread the word about popular food trends and restaurants. While many millennials might think they have what it takes to make it within the foodie Instagram game, New Fork City is one of the lucky accounts that has made it to an influencer level. Currently with 972,000 followers, Emily Morse, Gillian Presto and Natalie Landsberg, a group of 23-year-old friends, post pictures to their wide audience of followers who all tune in daily to see the trio’s food journey through the Big Apple. They also accept photo submissions from their followers under the hashtag #NewForkCity, which helped the account gain even more of a presence on Instagram. 


How it Works 

Founder Gillian Presto says, "With partnerships, they happen really organically. Brands and restaurants will reach out to us, say 'Hey, this is what we’re looking for. We’re either announcing a new initiative or we’re just trying to get more exposure, but we’d love your help.” Restaurants utilize food accounts such as New Fork City to raise brand awareness and increase popularity. While food trends have come and gone, restaurants continue to showcase their popular dishes through the Insta account to attract more customers, and promote their businesses, especially through targeting younger generations, who are deciding what and where to eat based on these social media pictures. Ultimately, these foodie accounts are becoming people’s go-to source for the hottest restaurant and food trends. As a result, restaurants are changing the way that they market in order to reach more social media driven consumers. Some restaurants offer free meals to influencers in exchange for instagram features, while others give away incentives such as gift cards to entice new customers, greatly helping these restaurants to gain exposure. 


But first… pictures.

An increasing number of people are concerned with maintaining a good social media presence, which has led to an increased number of consumers taking aesthetically pleasing pictures of their meals before they dig in. I’ll admit it… I’m guilty of it too. These days it seems like an impossible feat to go out to eat with a group of people without at least one person whipping their phone out to snag a great picture. 

As a result, restaurants are increasingly working harder to make their names visible in these pictures, whether branding napkins, plates, or even the food itself. This insures that once the pic goes viral, everyone will know exactly where the food is from, and even grow to recognize the brand or logo. 

After all, as the kids are saying these days… do it for the ‘gram.