The rise of social media has touched many aspects of our lives, both positively and negatively,  but have you considered that Instagram could actually be changing the way we eat?

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Instagram is a social media platform that was launched in 2010. The major feature that immediately set Instagram apart from its competitors is the fact that it’s focused almost entirely on the sharing of images and videos, rather than words. 

Instagram quickly took off, and within two months of its launch it had acquired over a million users. Fast forward to today, Instagram now boats over a billion registered users, and if you need any more proof of how much of a powerhouse the platform has become, look up ‘Instagramming’ on google- and you’ll find that it’s now officially categorised as a verb!

It seems like everyone is on Instagram these days, and it’s proving to be a fantastic tool for businesses big and small. One industry that has been heavily affected by the growth of Instagram is the food and hospitality industry. In fact, Instagram seems to be changing what, where, and how we eat…

 

Changing attitudes to food 

You might have noticed that there has been an increased focus on vegan and vegetarian lifestyles in the media over the last decade or so, and it’s been argued that the rise of Instagram has played a role in this. 

Various writers have established a link between the popularity of Instagram and the popularity of switching to vegan and vegetarian diets among the platform’s users. A quick search on Instagram reveals the popularity of this subject as the top hashtags boast millions of posts; #vegan (111 million posts), #veganfood (24.9 million posts), #veggie (8.3 million posts), #vegetarian (31.1 million posts), #vegetarianfood (3.1 million posts). 

The vegan and vegetarian community on Instagram present an extremely desirable lifestyle, with colourful food often being eaten by beautiful young people. Similarly, Instagram now has a key role in the success of the health and wellness industry in the UK. With the hashtags #healthylifestyle and #healthyfood both boasting around 90 million posts each. 

This isn’t limited to pictures of smoothie bowls however, as Instagram has also provided a platform for the marketing of diet trends, vitamins and supplements, and even diet pills, although the platform has been cracking down on such content over the last few years. The presence of this content can still be seen among popular hashtags though; #vitamins (5.4 million posts)  #weightloss (75.3 million posts) #diet (71.8 million posts). 

 

The birth of the #cheatmeal

Perhaps a by-product of the diet and healthy lifestyle cultures that occupy so much space on Instagram, you can also find millions of contrasting images of high calorie, so-called ‘cheat meals’ on the platform. 

The hashtag #foodporn boasts 261 million posts, and features images of enormous, greasy burgers, extra cheesy pizzas, and desserts that would have even the most accomplished healthy-eaters mouths’ watering! 

The concept of the cheat meal stems from the idea that people will follow a restrictive diet for most of the week, and then enjoy a blow-out cheat meal or cheat day, where they enjoy the food that they’ve been craving earlier in the week. The popularity of this content has also had an interesting effect on the food and restaurant industry…

 

Instagrammable meals and the restaurant industry 

The popularity of food based content on Instagram has led to a boom in so-called ‘Instagrammable’ food and restaurants. General food hashtags on Instagram boat hundreds of millions of posts; #foodie (187 million posts) #food (445 million posts) #foodblogger (58.2 million posts) #foodstagram (90.3 million posts). 

Consequently, many restaurants are now focusing on being more Instagrammable, by making their food and drinks more visually appealing, and ensuring that their décor is as trendy as possible. 

According to Fundera, 30% of millennial diners would actively avoid restaurants with a poor Instagram presence, and 69% of millennial diners admit to taking a picture of their food before eating it! Instagram has created a whole new form of word of mouth for restaurants, and the goal is to be as Instagrammable as possible, so that diners can’t resist taking a snap of the décor, or their food! 

As a result, many restaurants are creating extreme meals in line with Instagram’s cheat day trends, with some restaurants boasting a viral presence on Instagram for their huge portions, giant cocktails and inventive meals. In some ways the goal of being Instagrammable and unique might have overtaken the need for the food to actually be tasty, and the dining experience enjoyable. 

As social media continues to grow and evolve, we will most likely see new ways of working, creating, and marketing continue to evolve alongside it, as businesses fight to keep up with online trends…

 

If you need a little help to ensure that your business is making the most of its Instagram potential, we can help! Here at Netbiz Group, we can develop creative and focused social media strategies tailored to your brand and business- get in touch today to chat to one of our friendly experts. 

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