Instaworthy is defined by the Urban Dictionary as “a photo or picture that is worth posting on Instagram.” How are this term and the social media platform changing the food industry?

Who is driving the Instagram craze?

Millennials are spearheading the instagrammable and #instaworthy craze. According to recent research, 18- to 35-year-olds spend five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30 percent would avoid a restaurant if its Instagram presence was weak.1 More than ever, your Instagram presence must be much more compelling and more engaging.

The photos you post on social media can have a huge influence on how your product is noticed, accepted and ultimately embraced. The way food is plated or the way it is packaged makes consumers even more excited about the product they bought, they are enjoying, etc. Whether it is putting a twist on a traditional food, creating food art or finding a unique way to package to-go items, you need to offer consumers the unique experience that they want so they can share.

Word-of-mouth has a whole new meaning.

This is not only a form of verbal communication anymore. Word-of-mouth has evolved to where people are writing captions (positive or negative) and posting pictures to support their experience. Consumers trust what they see on Instagram profiles because it is organic and authentic content. However, this can be a double-edged sword. Consumers have all the power in this case; they can say what they want and post what they want. In most instances, however, the pictures or feedback posted on Instagram is trusted because it is unbiased.

Encourage word-of-mouth on social media by making your handle to various social media platforms readily available to consumers who stop by your restaurant. Restaurants can present their social media platforms in their operation, on their menu or billing statements, and even on printed materials like coasters and napkins. Operators can utilize social media platforms as part of their POS program as trusted, inspiring testimonial pieces. Engaging with your consumer this way will encourage them to post, thereby boosting your organic content on social media. If a consumer posts negatively on any social media platforms, engage with that person. Ask him or her about his or her experience and what can be done to better the experience next time.

By communicating with your consumers via social platforms, it gives your brand a sense of transparency that today’s consumers appreciate. Not only does it show consumers you care, it also shows them that you are willing to take the time to listen to feedback and adapt to meet demands and needs.

The influence of FOMO — I came, I saw, I took a picture

Starbucks recently used FOMO (fear of missing out) to attract throes of consumers. In the spring of 2017, Starbucks released its LTO “Unicorn” Frappuccino. It didn’t matter that the press wasn’t all positive. This drink created an #instaworthy buzz. UBS found that the average Starbucks saw more than 20 people coming in to buy the Unicorn Frappuccino each day it was available.2

In the case of the Starbucks Unicorn Frappucino, the reviews were very mixed, many positive and even more negative. Regardless of the type of feedback, it made consumers desire to try the specialty drink. They wanted to share a review of their own. This is just one example of how FOMO is transforming the food industry today. Not only is it telling consumers what to eat, it is also telling them where to eat.

This works for seasonal offerings from manufacturers as well. Making LTOs and seasonal items even more limited helps create even more purchases. Missing out on these #instaworthy offerings makes consumers feel disconnected instead of feeling involved in what is trending in their culture. They feel as if they can contribute to the conversation and get involved in the buzz surrounding these trending topics. This translates to a lot of free advertising for the manufacturer or operator who has created this moment of excitement.

The way food is plated or packaged, the urgency of unique LTOs and displays that create posts that appeal: all are effective ways to boost sales through Instagram. Create a social presence and let people know where to post to build that presence. This way your operation could become the next can’t-miss destination for today’s instagramaholics.

1. Datassential, 2017
2. www.businessinsider.com/starbucks-new-unicorn-frappuccino-inspired-era-2017-6