How Food and Social Media Engage Your Senses

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How Food and Social Media Engage Your Senses



By Janette Speyer and Alison Brown, Web Success Team

Who doesn’t love food? Everyone has his or her weakness, whether it’s sweet or savory, we all have that one food that we crave. Some researchers think that cravings in adulthood are based on early childhood experiences, and that even the healthiest, fittest people have something that makes their mouth water. Not only does food spark a sense of nostalgia, but it can also bring about a sense of community. No matter what your cultural background, people can always find common ground when it comes to food.

Food and Social Media Engage Senses ~ Web Success Team

Food in a Cultural Sense

The tradition of gathering to “break bread” has been around for thousands of years. In many cultures, food traditions play a very integral role in daily life. It’s not a coincidence that so many cultural holidays revolve around cooking and eating. It’s a great time for people to connect, while also nourishing their bodies. For Americans, one of the largest national holidays, Thanksgiving, revolves solely around cooking a massive meal, then gathering around a table and celebrating with family. Or in the Jewish tradition, Shabbat dinner takes place every Friday evening and revolves around the cooking of a family meal. Time magazine wrote an article several years ago about the importance of the “family meal,” and went as far as to say that routine family meals affect adolescent development and can influence a child’s self-esteem.

Food Inspires Community

Food plays a vital role in our communities for many reasons. Whether it’s the role it plays in the family unit, or a larger scale community, it can inspire camaraderie amongst people who otherwise wouldn’t have much in common. Websites such as Yelp allow people (who will probably never meet in real life) the freedom to give advice and tips based on their individual restaurant experiences. Similarly, the social media site Foursquare allows people to check into places online and check out where their friends are. It’s a great (and free) marketing technique for businesses that want to get their name out there. Some restaurants even promote regular customers by making them “mayor” of the Foursquare community based on how many check-ins they have. It’s low cost to the business, and stimulates customer engagement. Who doesn’t want that?

Pinterest Food Phenomenon

Seeing images of food can elicit a certain responses, and now thanks to social media, images of food are that more abundant. Visual websites such as Pinterest make it really easy to share recipes with fellow “pinners.” You can find thousands of recipes here, but mostly the good one’s because those are usually the most popular. The website has been said to inspire some people to cook more after seeing amazing recipes that they know will be good thanks to countless reviews. Anything from the best homemade pesto, the best pizza dough or peach cobbler, you can find it on Pinterest. One “garlic cheesy bread” recipe was even re-shared over 40,000 times. This must be the best garlic bread in existence to receive that many responses.

Food for Thought

With all these social media sites revolving around food and eating, you can’t help to wonder just how important food really is in our daily lives. With the rapid expansion and success of Pinterest, it’s probable that more social media sites that focus on the visual appeal of food will be popping up in the near future. Pinterest shows case in point that images sell, and that images increase customer engagement. People respond a lot more positively and a lot more often when they are approached with an aesthetically pleasing image instead of a bunch of words. Only time will be able to tell what visual social media sites mean for the future of online marketing, so until then, continue to get as many people engaged on these sites as you can! For as we’ve seen with the skyrocketing success of Pinterest, everything can change overnight!


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  1. David Bloom
    February 22nd, 2012 19:27  / 

    You are so right- food is a universal emotional talking point. But it is more than that. Last year American’s bought food in or from a restaurant 70 Billion times. That’s more than 200x for every person in the country. We think, connect and spend on this category every day, everywhere, in every demographic. Hard to think of a category more central to our hearts and wallets.


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