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How Social Media Has Changed the Restaurant Industry

 47% of millennials say that they text, tweet and Instagram while they eat.


Compare London’s culinary scene in 2016 to 10 years ago and one thing is clear: social media has had a huge impact on restaurant concept design, restaurant and retail marketing and even the menu.

With 47% of millennials now saying that they text, tweet and Instagram while they eat, it’s clear that those with the highest spending power are those most fully involved in social. 

Here, we examine how social has – and will – continue to – shape the culinary landscape.

 

The power to make

A restaurant’s reputation is everything, and what consumers are seeing on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – and now, commonly – Snapchat, is informing their decisions on where to eat.

A social influencer – bloggers, vloggers or even celebrities with large social media presences – or reputable publication – can raise the profile of a restaurant, bar or pub in an instant.

Take this BuzzFeed article featuring monster milkshakes created by burger and beer joint Black Tap in NYC. The article received over 2 million views after being shared to Facebook by Buzzfeed, with new customers queuing outside the door. The monster shakes even featured on ABC’s The Chew as a result of the coverage.

 

The power to break

Social media can also be a force for bad when it comes to a restaurant’s reputation. Facebook now displays how long it takes for the average customer message to be replied to. The implication is that restaurants with low response times have bad customer service. Just one more thing restaurateurs need to look out for.

Social media can also ruin a restaurant’s reputation by putting too much control in the hands of customers who have had poor experiences.

A good example of this is when brands like Starbucks projected unmoderated tweets at the National History Museum for their #spreadthecheer campaign during the middle of their tax scandal.

 

Transforming interiors

Forward-thinking restaurateurs are now looking at how they can build consumers’ appetites for social media into the designs of their restaurant interiors to make them social media-inclusive zones.

Michael Chernow, owner of Seamore's and co-owner of The Meatball Shop said "Instagram was absolutely, 100 percent taken into account" when designing his latest restaurant project, Seamore's, a seafood spot, in Manhattan. Flooded with light, pops of colour and artwork, this restaurant is designed for snap-happy Instagrammers, and their own feed is a tribute to this.

 

A powerful campaigning tool

As we wrote recently, the Great British pub is fighting back. Still, more on average are closing than opening. This means that communities are having to rally around their locals, either coming up with proposals to become community owners, or create campaigns to put pressure on their MP and local authorities to safeguard pubs behind legislative protection.

As a good example, MOMENTUM supporters gathered behind a campaign to keep a local pub in their Hove community open after it suddenly shut.

The Facebook group attracted nearly 400 members, helping them to fight for legal aid to get the pub reclassified as ‘a community asset’, meaning that the property couldn’t be sold off to developers to be turned into housing.

Ultimately, social media has transformed the way that consumers in 2016 eat out. From the way that curated social feeds can positively or negatively impact a brand’s reputation and impact its sales, to the way that digital audiences can be harnessed to pursue important agendas, it’s clear that social is a powerful tool for change.

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