Gary Osborne, Insight & Brand Planning Specialist, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board
Since the very inception of the discipline marketers have worried about which half of their marketing budget is being wasted and never has it been more important to be laser focused in terms of hitting your target segment with messaging and imagery that will provoke action. The power of Instagram and other social media to make connections and shift perceptions in this age of media fragmentation is well documented. Over 300 million monthly users can’t be wrong, particularly when you’re speaking to the coveted 16-24 age group which makes up about half this number.
And it seems to work! Edelmen’s Global Trust Barometer from 2017 showed that 55% of people rate individuals as more trustworthy than institutions. This would imply that millennials are more likely to buy something based on the recommendation of their favourite social media star than from a TV ad. However, size isn’t everything. While food social media superstars like Jamie Oliver may have almost 7M followers, recent studies have confirmed that engagement levels in the form of likes and click-throughs decline when follower numbers rise too high. So what does all of this mean for Irish food and drink producers in their efforts to cut through to their desired audience and encourage engagement with their brand? Given that imagery is so important when it comes to social media marketing below are some simple photography guidelines that will help make all the difference and hopefully create a loyal following.
Pictures tell a thousand words!
1. Plating. How you arrange your food.
The rule of the game here is style. While plating might at first appear a little vain you’re in the world of the showman here so don’t hold back. Simplicity is key but think about things like serving suggestions and consumption occasions. For less formal settings perhaps wooden boards would work well. For more formal settings big white plates are the norm with food placed dead centre.
2. Lighting. How you use light to bring out your food's good side.
There’s no need for a Hollywood set up here. Take your shot by a window on an overcast day at about mid-day and avoid all forms of flash and unnatural light. The natural diffusion of light will bring out the best in textures and colour contrasts in your food and avoid shadowing which can look unappetising.
3. Composition. How you frame your shot.
Again, this will depend on the story you’re trying to tell. Shot directly from above works well for more formal settings and from a side angle is more closely associated with casual dining.
4. Camera settings. Touch-ups to your photo you can make before you even take it.
Don’t make the mistake of over using filters. These will be instantly spotted as fake and detract from the authenticity of your food. Instead, make better use of your camera settings before you take the photo in the first place. Many phone cameras have a food setting which sharpens edges and evens tone, giving a more professional look.