Foodie pics are a staple of social media content. But have you ever stopped to question why these picture posts are so prominent and popular? And how could you possibly leverage this for your online brand?
Recently, The International Journal of Research in Marketing published a study titled, “Consumers’ use of brands to reflect their actual and ideal selves on Facebook.” They found that “Facebook users utilize brands to clarify personality ambiguities and highlight individual characteristics that maintain the self-concept.”
They write, “Self-concept is defined as a person’s perception of him or herself… according to self-concept theory, people behave in ways that maintain and enhance their sense of self. One way to do this is through the use of brands.”
So imagine one of your customers, we’ll call her Mary. She’s not the most outgoing person, she’s more of introvert and prefers to read long novels at home rather than socialize. But Mary has a belief that popular people are outgoing and she wants to be popular, especially on social media. One way for Mary to reinforce this idealized perception is by highlighting those times when she is out of the house and engaging in sociable activities. Maybe it’s a date, or drinks with friends. That’s when the foodie pics start to show up from her social feed.
Mary is just one hypothetical. Let’s look at Matt. He’s a participant from the documented study. He likes to eat a lot of pizza. In the study the write, “As conveyed by Matt, Papa John’s Facebook friends receive discounts and promotions. Matt suggests that eating pizza is a part of his day-to-day life routine. Therefore, Matt connects with various brands of pizza. The pizza brands do not serve as a means for self-enhancement or self-protection. Rather, the pizza brands represent his actual self (who I am now).”
There seems to be a level of opportunity here for brands to reinforce self-perceptions by showcasing consumer-generated social content on their websites. For restaurants this could mean creating a specific hashtag that customers are encouraged to use to not only post their foodie pics on their own social media profiles, but to be included on the restaurant’s branded website as well.
The implications here are that this kind of incentivizing wouldn’t just drive word-of-mouth and brand exposure on social media channels, but also reinforce the self-concepts for the kinds of individuals that are already motivated to post pictures of their food online.
Foodie pics are more than a passing trend; they’re part of our identity.