Sunday, August 31, 2014

A dinner date with social media

A little something I wrote recently, for a little something. 

When Instagram was founded in 2010 and eventually made its way to Indian shores, little did its founders realise that it would be sparking the beginning of a food blogging revolution, or an extension of what already existed. It is similar to the photography wave that came before this where everyone who owned a DSLR was also a photographer, and even had their own Facebook fan page, Twitter handle and what not. 
The Indian food bloggers did exist before this wave; however we were about to see the emergence of many more as the influencers who got used to joys of instant sharing of their gorgeous food images their followers, and later joined the blogger force. Some are worth their salt, (no pun intended) and some are just regular folk armed with technology.

So how do you distinguish between whom to take seriously on social media? Who is a heavy weight, and who is a random neighbour with an opinion? Instagram has made it easy for everyone to find a visual way to express their thoughts, and because of their growing popularity they also seem to have taken on themselves the onus to review everything that they experience. Taking a picture before allowing anyone at the table to take a bite, the #FoodPorn revolution has completely changed the dining experience as well. And hell hath no fury worse than an influencer deprived of WiFi!

So as a business, or even someone who is looking for an unbiased opinion on what is out there in the food realm, who can you actually turn to? The first ones you can look for – and if we are looking at social media as a democracy, then these people could be termed as the Gandhi family*– are the journalists, people with years of experience under their belt. While their pictures may or may not make you salivate, those are some honest opinions coming your way. These people also never usually name and shame; if they don’t like something they more often than not just do not write about it or post it at all.

The next bunch of people to look for are chefs, they cook a storm on a daily basis so they know to appreciate what is truly good out there. It is not their job to talk about other restaurants or cafes, so if it does make it to their updates it is probably to die for.

Then we have the social media babies – the influencers, born of their popularity on Twitter and now Instagram. These people might or might not be able to claim the right to call themselves food writers. There are those who know their food, there is absolutely no doubt about that. There are also those who have time and access to decent food shots, and since they are popular online every brand wants to be a part of their posts.

A simple, but not foolproof, way to distinguish between these two is to see who walks the talk. Most good food bloggers also cook and though this rule still cannot be applied to everyone, it is fairly a good yardstick to measure by.

So if you’re looking to find someone to associate with, or want to learn to ride the social media wave, it would be best learned from someone who knows what they are talking about.

*This doesn’t have any bearing on the writer’s political opinion. It was just thrown in for good measure to talk about aristocracy, if we were in England I would have spoken about the royal family.

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