Social Media for FOOD

So you’re out to dinner and the food comes to the table and everyone pulls out the smart phone and starts taking pictures of the food before they eat what is in front of them… #whendidwegetsowrappedupinlettingpeopleknowwhatweareeating. Food and Social Media was the original playground of just a handful of Food Trucks letting everyone know where the food was to be served that day. Whether it was time, menu specials, or just some crazy over the top picture of street tacos on steroids. Today social media is the most important form of media to most chefs and restaurateurs. It has replaced the ordinary and most traditional form of word of mouth media. Lets take a look at what is most popular on the Social Media Menu today.

Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them on a variety of social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. A distinctive feature is that it confines photos to a square shape, similar to Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid images, in contrast to the 4:3 aspect ratio typically used by mobile device cameras. Users can also apply digital filters to their images to make that molten lava cake oooozzzz all over the screen.

Yelp is a multi-national corporation headquartered in San Francisco, California. It develops, hosts and markets the Yelp mobile app, which publishes crowd-sourced reviews about local eateries. The company also trains small businesses to respond to reviews responsibly, hosts social events for reviewers, and provides data about businesses, such as health inspection scores.

OpenTable is a real-time restaurant-reservation service. The firm provides online reservations at about 31,000 upscale restaurants around the world seating some 15 million diners a month. The company was founded in 1998. Reservations are free to end users; the company charges restaurants monthly and per-reservation fees for their use of the system.

The goal of Foodzie, which is kind of like Etsy for food, is to create an online marketplace for locally grown, handmade, and/or artisan foods. Foodzie allows people without access to high quality food from small producers a way to get that food via the mail, and it provides farmers and small artisan producers the opportunity to more easily reach a wider audience. Now that the chef at your local café introduced you to NC Grown and produced Sorghum syrup… you can find that farmers market where he gets his secret stash.

Urbanspoon is a restaurant information and recommendation service founded in 2006. The site combines user reviews with those of critics and food bloggers for thousands of restaurants. What really sets Urban Spoon apart, though, is their highly useful iPhone app that lets you easily find local restaurant options, filtered by cuisine, neighborhood, and price. Now you can find the best macarons in the downtown area of Charlotte with just a click.

An application that helps people locate local, in season food has just been released for the iPhone. Simply titled Locavore.

In Season – Locavore tells you what is currently in season, how much longer it will be in season, and what will be in season soon.

Markets – With the help of Localharvest.org, this app points you to the closest farmers markets. It accurately points me to about 15 markets in a 13 mile range, and accurately points me to the two closest to my house. There’s one about 8 miles from house that’s open year round that I didn’t know about. Good to know.

Food – You can browse by food, from almonds to zucchini, and find out where in the U.S. it is currently in season. There are also links to articles about the foods and recipes for them on Epicurious.com.

States – By clicking on Northern California, I can easily see that there is so much more in season there right now than there is in my state. I suppose this would be helpful if you’re traveling to another state to know what will be in season once you get there. Right now, all it’s doing is giving me a big case of locavore envy.

I think the market locator part of the application is the most helpful. Since it asks each time I open it if it should use my location, I can easily find farmers markets close to wherever I happen to be on vacation. And, if I’m visiting a friend, I can help her find markets near her.

There’s no information here that I wouldn’t be able to find out on the Internet, but it’s nice to have it handy in my pocket whenever I might need it. At $2.99, it’s the most expensive app I’ve bought for my iPhone so far, but I think I’ll get my money’s worth. Now I can get salted caramels from that local confectioner that I didn’t know existed.