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Focus Pocus: The Magic of Millennial Foodservice Photos on Social Media

toa-heftiba-195458 (1).jpgMillennials are social beasts with a ravenous appetite for interaction – online, on their phones and in-person. That can be a heady recipe for success for foodservice and restaurant operations, provided they tap into the power of social media to leverage millennial snack trends and their taste for social sharing.

Millennials spend 44% of their food dollars on dining out, slightly more than baby boomers,1 and smartphone ownership among them rises as high as 98%.2  What’s more, 80% of social media time is spent on mobile devices (tablets and smartphones), with a growing percentage (61%) on smartphones.3

Given how integral mobile and social platforms have become to consumers’ everyday lives, it’s no surprise that 60% of U.S. diners have reported that they browse food photos on social media. In fact, 75% choose a place to eat based solely on the strength of socially shared photos.4

A Snapshot of Food Photo Trends

Photos posted on social networks can be like pulling the rabbit of brand recognition and customer engagement out of a hat.

Amplified through likes, loves, shares and retweets and extended across social networks that could include hundreds if not thousands of friends, socially shared dining experiences can be a key driver of customer growth and loyalty for profitable restaurant operations. Higher social engagement could translate into a higher check average.

Now more than ever, a picture is worth a thousand words. But first it needs to be worth sharing (a catchy hashtag that complements the photo helps,. too). The more visually appealing the venue, and the more mouthwatering the presentation of the food, the more likely your customers will be to post on social media.

Bear in mind that nearly half of diners nationally (44%) said they snap photos of their food while dining out to share on social media, and 19% said they have chosen a specific restaurant for the express purpose of taking food photos.4 41% are so eager to post pictures of their food, they said they do so right at the table.4 In the age of social media, engaging the eye is as important as pleasing the palate.

Trendy dishes that look interesting on the plate tend to appear most often on social media, as underscored by the 33% of respondents who said they “love” avocado toast. And yet “trendy” can be short-lived, as shown by the 38% of national diners who said they are over food mashups such as the cronut, ramen burger and rainbow bagels.4

Social Standing for Photo-Hungry Foodies

While Facebook remains the leading social media platform, used by 79% of Americans who spend time online, Instagram tends to be especially popular with younger audiences.5 59% of online adults ages 18-29 use Instagram, nearly double the share among 30- to 49-year-olds (33%) and more than seven times the share among those 65 and older (8%).5

With more than 500 million active monthly users,6 Instagram is millennial marketing gold for foodservice operators and snack manufacturers. The social platform’s popularity is driving the foodservice trend of Instagram-focused fare, which adds a dash of performance art to enhance menu innovation and the millennial dining experience.

As Aliza J. Sokolow, a former food stylist and founder of Poppyseed Agency, which manages social media for high-profile Los Angeles chefs, explains: “I think that we first eat with our eyes, then our nose, and then our mouths. Social media provides a free outlet of exposure to potential and regular patrons. It’s the best way to interact with potentially thousands of diners with just a push of a button.” 6

Do you plan to focus more on inspiring and circulating shareworthy photos of your menu items on social media? How has your foodservice operation been adapting to the ever-growing influence of social media?


2 Nielsen, “Millennials are Top Smartphone Users,” Nov. 15, 2016
3 Sterling, Greg, “Nearly 80 percent of social media time now spent on mobile devices,” Marketing Land, Apr. 11, 2016
4 Schouten, Rebekah, “Social media swaying restaurant-goers,” Food Business News, Sept. 14, 2016
5 Pew Research, Social Media Update 2016, Nov. 11, 2016
6 Ready, Cori, “What’s Cooking in 2017 Restaurant Trends?” Townsquared Blog, Nov. 10, 2016

Topics: Millennials, Trends, Promotions, Loyalty, Mobile, Social Media, Demographic

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