When it comes to food, sharing has traditionally correlated to caring. In the social-media era, however, spreading the culinary love is less about passing a plate between family or friends and more about posting photos to social platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.
It’s no exaggeration that Instagram has revolutionised the way people — especially Millennials — interact with food. An estimated 95 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram every day, of which food-and-beverage posts represent a significant proportion.
Overall, Instagram has 800 million monthly active users, and its biggest market in Asia-Pacific is Indonesia, with 45 million monthly active users.
With restaurants, bars, hotels, and celebrity chefs all harnessing the potential of Instagram to engage audiences and enhance their brands, it’s no surprise that event planners have also entered the Instagram age with a voracious appetite.
“Storytelling through Instagram is one of the most powerful tools for event marketers these days,” said Emma Gray, head of marketing and PR for PropertyGuru Asia, a Singapore-based online real-estate group that runs a series of conferences and gala events across Asia.
“With literally hundreds of events happening every day, engaging your target audience through a variety of platforms is key. The simplicity and user-friendliness of Instagram allows brands to be creative and bring their products or events to life through visuals that are inspiring, beautiful, and aspirational.”
And with food playing such a starring role on Instagram, it’s only natural that the preparation and service of F&B at meetings and events has undergone some major shifts.
Social-media-savvy planners are upping their game, deploying culinary theatrics and event-specific hashtags to create sharable moments that engage attendees. Interactive dining with live cooking stations, artful food displays, and photo-worthy plating are the new normal at business events and meetings.
Additional engagement techniques include appointing a mixologist to create Instagrammable cocktails, or devising a creative, multi-course menu that reflects the event theme or tells a story about the destination of the event.
“Instagram is a highly visual platform and, as such, it is a natural fit for delicious-looking snaps of food and drink,” said Charles Tidswell, vice president JAPAC at Socialbakers, a global social- media-analytics company.
As a result, food-and-beverage service has evolved into a carefully considered art form, where presentation must appeal to clients’ palates while stimulating trigger fingers on phone cameras.
Tidswell added: “Food needs to be presented in a visually appealing way. And with a large collection of filters, formats, and influencers at their disposal, it’s no wonder that organisations are looking more and more to Instagram to engage their audiences.”
A memorable meal or a show-stopping cocktail can often be the difference between a good event and an average one. And, in an age when a couple of social-media posts can fill a restaurant or bestow worldwide fame on a fried-chicken sandwich, savvy event planners are making sure sharable food opportunities are baked into their event design.