How social media is influencing our decisions
Increase in social media
Whilst in its infancy social media was primarily used to connect with friends and family; however, it has had a significant, and broader, impact on our lives in recent years. Nearly every aspect of our daily lives is linked to social media; and in the UK specifically, there are now 39 million active social media users, with estimates going up to 42 million users (Statista, 2018).
There are several ways in which you can access social media accounts, however according to Brown & Bobkowski, consumers prefer to use a mobile phone to access them, ensuring they are connected to their networking platforms at all times. From having this increased amount of access throughout the day, users are changing the way they spend their time both online and offline, resulting in changed behaviour and interaction during normal day-to-day lives. Consumers use social networking sites to update friends and family on their daily activities as well as sharing photos and checking in at different locations – this is most commonly used when sharing photos of food. Because of this, users begin to create an identity through what they post, allowing themselves to capture a naturally aesthetic and authentic lifestyle, which many of their followers strive to have.
The use of social media has caused users to be increasingly invested through being able to stay connected with friends and family, because of this it has had an impact on both cultural and social practices, specifically our eating behaviours. Food has become one of the most intrinsic aspects of social media, forming a way in which users can express their personality and identity through food choice; for example, only going to restaurants because they are trendy or popular.
Social media influencers impacting purchasing decisions
With the increase of use in social media platforms, influencers have been particularly effective when advertising and promoting products/services. Social media influencers (SMI) already have a large follower base who trust them due to their social presence, this is particularly important as they are more likely to trust recommendations of products and places to visit – this seems to be working with three out of four consumers using social media to pick a restaurant based on what they had read from posts. According to Glucksman (2017) SMIs have “broken the wall down between the consumer, the brand, and followers through social media content”. This has had a positive effect on how consumers engage with products/services due to constant exposure from credible sources.
Social media has become a major tool in assisting food businesses to market, as standout foods (such as rainbow foods and smoothie bowls) are thriving, and according to Hu, 2002, “more than 10% of the pictures on social media are of foods”, and this percentage could be higher for those who follow food related accounts, influencers and/or hashtags.
Changes in food trends
Because of the rise in food on social media, it is having a knock-on effect on the number of consumers who want to spend their disposable income on food and eating out. Therefore, restaurants are now having to think about, not only impressing their customers with being up-to-date on the latest food trends but also their décor. Recently, restaurants are encouraging consumers to take pictures and post them on social media as it is a free and effective way to effortlessly communicate with their target audience. Many consumers have said that going to a restaurant is more than just about having great food and drinks, it’s about creating a unique experience that can also be shared on social media.
Ultimately, social networking sites have transformed the way that consumers eat out. Social media is now one of the most relevant ways to reach consumers and promote a business – although these channels can positively or negatively impact a brand’s reputation and influence its sales, they can also reach large audiences and change consumers opinions. It’s clear that social media is a powerful tool that is going to continue to grow and industries could benefit from it. Contact us today to discover what this could mean for your brand.