Foodporn is the foundation of our social media feeds and big business for anyone with food products to sell.
Food is no longer just fuel anymore. It’s a lifestyle, with individuals gleefully labelling themselves as ‘foodies’ and spending increasing amounts of their disposable income on gastronomic delights and experiences.
Before we had a high-quality digital phone camera upon our person 24/7, the average Joe didn’t take pictures of their dinner.
We were not waiting 48 hours for the local chemist to develop 24 snaps of your bowls of Coco Pops and last night’s ham, egg and chips.
But once we had the power to take these pictures and share them with the world instantaneously, foodporn was born.
We can now produce and share an enhanced 4K video at the dinner table, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. At the time of writing, there are 289,565,729 posts on Instagram marked #foodporn. It even has its own subreddit.
Not just any old food picture qualifies as foodporn. To warrant the hashtag, it needs to be something seriously enticing.
Think rivulets of molten cheese oozing out of an expertly charred cheeseburger or lashings of fresh clotted cream generously dolloped on a warm strawberry-topped scone.
Breaking the quivering surface of a crisp chocolate brownie to release the molten fudgy insides. If your image’s alt-tag reads like a banned Jilly Cooper novel, you’ve got foodporn.
TV shows like Man vs Food and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives were the pioneers of foodporn.
Their greedy and gregarious presenters travelled hundreds of miles to sample monumentally greasy delights, and audiences were glued to their every bite.
They were then inspired to make the journey to sample these delicious offerings for themselves and share the experience online with their friends and family.
If you told someone in the 1950s that you’d be travelling halfway across the world to have your picture taken eating a stack of pancakes the size of a toddler, they’d think you’d lost your mind. But that’s the magic of foodporn.
So how does foodporn relate to marketing and branding?
Before we go anywhere near a new food product, the likelihood is we’ve already devoured a hefty serving of their online content.
If we’re sitting at our desk with a grumbling tummy and thinking about the restaurant we’ll be going to later, we’ll scroll to their social media feed to check out what’s on the menu. If we’re greeted with a flurry of mouthwatering images, we’ll ensure that we wear something loose and elasticated for the evening.
Foodporn isn’t just for heart-attack-inducing fast food offerings either. It’s an opportunity to make more pedestrian offerings a bit more seductive. Take the humble Weetabix as an example. If you’re not familiar with this popular British breakfast cereal, it resembles a Brillo pad made of compressed wood shavings.
It’s not a looker, that’s for sure. But a glimpse at the Weetabix Instagram feed reveals plates of delicious brunch options and crowd-pleasing family dinner recipes, all featuring the humble brown biscuit.
Foodporn is the ultimate in customer-generated advertising. People will willingly, and without any encouragement, buy your products, create tempting content about them, and then share this with friends, family and the rest of the internet.
They’ll even tag you, so users can find you and your products within a few clicks. If you share it with even more people, they’ll be overjoyed.
As customers, the power of recommendation is unrivalled – we trust real people, especially those we know, way more than any advertiser claims.
We’ve been bitten before, like when the packaging on the frozen ready meal depicts a beautiful rustic dish lovingly handmade by your nana, but the contents of the packaging actually resemble one of her old slippers. Genuine content from real people is the encouragement we need.
How to harness the power of foodporn for your brand
Build your social media presence
Any food brand worth its salt knows the importance of building a social media following.
It’s one of the cheapest and easiest ways of reaching your next customer. It also helps customers to feel closer to you and interact with your brand.
If customers are taking delicious videos and images of your product, this will be the best way to let you know.
Sharing is caring
When a customer publicly shares a delectable picture or video of your food, shout about it. Hit that share button.
Follow food trends
Social media is a fickle beast. Trends come and go, but jumping on the bandwagon can bring you a legion of followers.
Fermented foods were our favourite trendy snack for 2021, according to an annual nutrition survey from Pollock Communications, with blueberries, green tea, exotic fruits, seeds, avocado, spinach, kale, nuts, and salmon also trending.
You might not sell any of those things, but slowly drizzling your salad dressing over spinach and salmon salad could attract new customers.
Foodporn has come under fire for fuelling the obesity epidemic and encouraging unhealthy eating habits.
An Oxford University study concluded that constant exposure to “visually succulent cooking procedures and beautifully portrayed dishes…(could be) inadvertently exacerbating our desire for food, leading us to eat more often than we should.”
This has done very little to satiate the public appetite for this content, with it proving one of the fastest-growing online markets.