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Shit-Hot Social: The Best of Food & Drink on Instagram

By Steph Ross

Rewind a couple of years or so and I, like most, used to glare in bewilderment at ‘those people’ in restaurants who would spend 5 minutes meticulously arranging their table to take the perfect boastful photo before finally eating.

Scrolling through your Instagram feed, it is now the norm to see your fair share of avocado-on-toast, to the most indulgent desserts, to healthy food ‘inspo’ - food content is everywhere.

We’ve progressed from cringing at the sight of someone’s dinner appearing in their ‘Spain 2014’ holiday album on Facebook, to there being over 130 million uses of #foodporn on Instagram. Sharing food on social media used to be a little awkward, it is now a staple and we are used to uploading, scrolling through and engaging with food on social media every day.

With over 400 million daily users on the platform it’s fair to say the competition for space is rife, and as a food brand, ensuring your #foodporn stands out is really difficult.

Strategy is key here - as the cameras on our phones get better, photo editing apps become increasingly accessible, and restaurants increasingly consider things like lighting, wifi access and backdrops in the design of their venues to facilitate user-generated content, anyone can snap a professional looking image. But just taking a pretty picture isn’t enough anymore.

Here are my top 3 brands nailing #foodporn on Instagram with some of our insights into how their strategy is positioning them a cut above the rest.

1. Chobani, 149k followers, 1.2% engagement rate

I bet you weren’t expecting a yoghurt company to be first on the list.

Yoghurt isn’t particularly exciting… or photogenic. On top of that, there are hundreds of yoghurt brands competing for the same space. Pop into your local supermarket and there are rows and rows of identically packaged pots of lactose. Turn on your TV and you’ll likely be bombarded with advert after advert featuring a pretty woman showing off her pearly whites as she seductively devours a spoonful of yoghurt. Yawn.

And their social media? Well you’d pretty much expect to see this (no hard feelings, Müller Light, feel free to drop us a line if you’d like some inspiration…)

In a world full of bland, repetitive yoghurts. Chobani have taken a different approach, by effectively leveraging influencers.

Influencer marketing is becoming increasingly integral to successful social strategy. The word strategy is key here. We all know making yoghurt look exciting isn’t easy.

And that’s exactly what Chobani have done. Rather than choosing your run of the mill lifestyle blogger to create a generic flatlay featuring (you guessed it) yoghurt and some fruit, Chobani worked with influential graphic designers, with bright, eye-catching content to push the boundaries.

The standard of content on Instagram is better than ever, users expect more for their attention, they will gladly scroll past a nice looking product shot without looking twice.

Chobani have worked with influencers such as Lizzie Darden who have effectively solved this by creating original, bright and engaging content for the brand. Focusing on a vibrant palette (opposite of vanilla palette usually associated with yoghurt), and cleverly using motion to highlight the products on an otherwise static piece of content. A fantastic way to highlight the product and bring it to life. There is an element of the unexpected here, using spinning cinnamon rolls to cover her eyes. Certainly not what you would expect from a yoghurt brand.

So, from deep within the Instagram bubble, filled with samey, predictable product shots, Chobani have used unexpected influencers to create and share unexpected content - that’s how to catch someone’s eye.

Mesmerising spinning cinnamon rolls or a plain pot of yoghurt? Decision made.

2. Fluffegram - 146k followers, 4% engagement rate

Excess is the new minimal and Fluffegram have absolutely nailed this in their social content strategy. People don’t want to see just a pristine top down shot of your coffee anymore, they want to see the most beautiful rainbow multicoloured coffee with unicorn glitter on top.

A blogger in Australia, Nathan, sells candyfloss online, which if you think about it, is just sugar on a stick… right? Why on earth would you want to buy this online?

Well… his feed is every millennial female’s idea of heaven, with all the pastel coloured candyfloss indulgence possible. It is no surprise his posts are reaching heights of 12k likes on a single post - at engagement rates of 8+%. His candyfloss has almost achieved coveted Instagram cult status.

Why do people buy rainbow bagels? To take a photo and post it on Instagram. Fluffegram has created this ‘cult’ feel with their take on spun sugar.

Brands we work with are constantly underestimating the online opportunity in creating a cult dish. Food that people buy, so that they can take a photo and upload it to Instagram. The word ‘instagrammable’ is thrown around so much now, that you can even google which restaurants to go to in order to nail your next Instagram upload.

How can brands make the most of this? Think about excess, and again, the unexpected. Whether it’s the packaging or the food itself, what is it that makes it worth you taking that extra minute to stop scrolling and think, I want to try that? Plain candyfloss? Probably not. Multicoloured, rainbow candyfloss? Absolutely.

3. Starbucksuk - 217k followers, 3% engagement rate

Yes I know, Starbucks is most definitely a Goliath, but there’s no denying the fact they face a challenge on Instagram. With nearly 4 million uses of the hashtag #latteart, everyone is doing their best to take the best photo of their ‘edgy’ coffees, with accounts existing primarily to share their best coffee content. The ‘expected’ coffee shot is no longer enough to stand out, and a more creative approach is needed.

If you want to make your followers jealous of your new age coffee, Starbucks most likely isn’t on the top of your list. Whilst you may happily go to Starbucks to pick up a quick latte, there are far cooler things to brag online about. Right?

Well, you should check them out. They know that they need to stand out, and yes everyone has photos of their coffee looking pretty in a top down shot of their mug on a wooden table, but this is something else!

I’ve talked about how it is now necessary to post content which is going to catch the user’s eye when they are battling through their feeds. Video content is a great way to do this; you see an image moving, you stop. It’s second nature.

Content like this not only catches your eye, it keeps it there. A single glance won’t tell the full story, you need to keep watching to understand the purpose of the content. Starbucks could have easily captured all 3 drinks and posted all 3 still images, or even a multi-image post. That’s expected. But, like Chobani, like Fluffegram, Starbucks turned it up a notch and went one step further. Unexpected, and engaging.

Instagram feeds are pretty crowded, and it’s only getting easier to take a pretty picture. To stand out, you need a strategy that will go against the grain. Chobani, Starbucks and Fluffegram have done this by strategic use of influencer marketing, jumping on relevant trends and using motion graphics to catch the eye.

That’s more David. And that’s what we like.