Are You Digesting Your Instagram Feed?

“I’ll have the mac and cheese burger. But first, let me feed my Instagram feed.” Snap, share, scroll, repeat. It has become commonplace for diners to upload pictures of food and drinks once they hit the table. Through the use of Instagram, the fruit of someone’s labor is available to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Is it causing chefs, mixologists and brands to play to the camera? And are followers’ posts inspiring their favorite brands’ content? I got experts to dish (and in some cases, spill). 

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Jay Ozdemir
Head bartender at Spiro’s Lounge & Restaurant

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image: spiro’s lounge & restaurant

When the food or drinks come out you want people to take out their phone and Instagram it. It gets the word out there. It has definitely become a main focus for us. We take our drinks to another level, making them crazier and more delicious. We put extra whip creams, chocolates, all the things people love to see.

How are we going to make it look good so that people are going to want it? We play with the ingredients first to make sure the taste matches the presentation. Then we focus on the presentation. We don’t want to use the same glass for all the cocktails. Take the chocolate peanut butter cup cocktail. The martini glass itself looks like a peanut butter cup. We dress it with peanut butter and chocolate syrup to give it that wow effect. Then we put a little peanut butter cup and chocolate shavings on top. The process of measuring and finalizing the drink, such as figuring out how much of each ingredient to use, doesn’t take long, maybe an hour or two. But photographing it the perfect way to make people say, “Yeah I want that,” can take three to four hours.

But it is worth it. Most of the time people come to the restaurant and know what type of drink they want because they saw it on Instagram. They don’t even need to see a drink menu or ask what it looks like or if it is good. And they like it so much they come back for it again.

James Ahearn
Executive Chef at Verde Wine Bar & Ristorante

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image: verde wine bar & ristorante

I don’t tailor anything to fit the photograph, like plating or preparing a dish a certain way. As chefs, we try to create food that looks good just because people eat with their eyes first. But food that is prepared well usually looks good. I might use a lot of colors in my dish because that is what I want the diners to see when they eat it.

Sometimes people kind of get catfished by the Internet. Dishes can be engineered to photograph amazingly, but that doesn’t mean they look or taste like that when you get to the restaurant. I really try my hardest to make very tasty food and usually food that is very tasty looks good.

Paige Snider
Social Media Coordinator at Blue Point Brewing Company

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image: blue point brewing company

We take certain foods into consideration based on how they’ll photograph and how popular they are. Burgers, tacos, pizza, cheese—people love these foods so we try to feature foods like that more prominently. Blue Point has shared cheese pairings, beer cocktail recipes, bacon cheese dip, burgers, tacos—all the good stuff.

On Instagram, visuals are everything. If something looks good and doesn’t taste good, people will still post about it. Similarly, if something tastes amazing but doesn’t photograph well, people are much less likely to post a photo of it. While I don’t think this is necessarily a good thing, having dishes that aren’t photogenic shouldn’t deter people from ordering a dish. Some dishes may not be inherently beautiful, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t tasty! (Want to achieve the perfect pour? See Snider’s tips below! Then put it to the test in Pulse’s #SummerofPulse Instagram contest.)

Noelle Witt
Associate Brand Manager at Blue Point Brewing Company

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image: blue point brewing company

People are more aware of the ingredients and what they are putting in their bodies. Instagram content often includes DIY tutorials, behind-the-scenes conversations with brewers and chefs and information about local and sustainable sources. This content lets us share a story that begins long before a pint is poured. We use social media to humanize Blue Point for people who aren’t able to come visit our brewery. By showing the ingredients we use, our brewers’ awesome personalities and our day-to-day at the brewery, we can share Blue Point’s brand story and culture.

I think that food and drinks are an opportunity for people to connect—they’re at the center of most social occasions and a memorable experience. We’re lucky that craft beer is a hot topic right now. We get tagged in some great user-generated content that shows us when and where people enjoy drinking our beer. It helps us to understand our fans and make sure we’re always connecting with them. We leave the brewing to the brewers, but our content is definitely inspired by social media trends we see—from male rompers to “the floor is lava” challenge. Hopping on these trends is a fun way to show our brand humor and brewery culture.

We definitely like to stay in the know—and a lot of times, we’re inspired by trends outside the beer world. Seaweed? Oysters? Let’s brew with them! Local ingredients and sustainability are trending on social media, especially on Long Island—we’ve noticed plenty of farmers markets, environmental movements, and new e-commerce platforms for fresh and organic produce delivery. Our brewers innovate with these trends and channel our coastal Long Island heritage into our beers.

Gia McKenna
Content Developer at Blue Point Brewing Company

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image: blue point brewing company

Consumers want to show others that they’re having a different experience or want to be the first to try something. There’s a rush or excitement element when discovering a new venue or product and being the first to post about it.

We brewed Hazy Bastard IPA when New England IPAs started to take off and garner more attention. We’ve been getting wonderful feedback on Instagram, Twitter, beer blogs and apps such as Untappd. There has been a lot of great UGC (user-generated content) which has helped get the word out in an organic way. Being in the know is definitely a motivating factor for fans to post and share.

Bernadette Aguirre
Director of Marketing at Purity Organic

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image: purity organic

Instagram has enabled us to actually position ourselves as a lifestyle brand where it is not so product focused, but how our products can fit into our consumers daily lives. Whether it is showcasing our beverages in a way that consumers can pair it with their favorite meal, use them as a snack on the go or use them as parts of recipes.

In the past, we were just taking cues from brands themselves and not really taking cues from what consumers want and what they are doing with our product. Instagram has helped inspire brands to think about the products in different ways and have a more direct line with consumers. We wouldn’t have thought about using [one of our] drinks as a mixer but people are using other things as mixers so we decided to come up with a Purity one. A fun cocktail we’re featuring at a bar in San Francisco right now is called the Mezzanine Madras made with Purity Organic Orange Mango.

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Paige Snider’s Tips on Making Your Beer Look Great on Instagram

1. Make sure your glass is clean, otherwise you’ll get bubbles on the glass and it won’t have a good head.
2. Hold the glass at a 45-degree angle and aim towards the middle of the glass with your pour.
3. When it’s about halfway full, tilt the glass upright and continue to pour.
4. Finish pouring with half an inch to an inch and a half head. Then photograph quickly!