A few weeks ago Olapic had the pleasure of hosting popular food blogger, social media influencer, and published cookbook author, Whitney Bond, in our NYC headquarters to talk to us about her evolving relationship with Instagram and her journey to success as a food blogger.
As we’ve discussed before in our recent blog, Instagram has become an important tool for both the restaurant and food business to showcase and market their products with consumer-generated content. This year there has been an explosion of articles about the power of visual content marketing and also how the Instagram has changed the dining experience for restaurants and their customers alike, so we thought it would be great to hear first-hand about how the food influencer space is changing.
Outside of her self-deprecating personality and humorous anecdotes of “a day in the life,” she described the impact of Instagram on her business and how its increasing popularity has helped solidify the influencer marketing space.
How did you get your start in the influencer space, and how would you say that career has evolved over time?
I started in the influencer space with my blog, originally called LittleLeopardBook.com in August 2011. What started as a fun blog to share life stories and recipes, has evolved into an actual career. The influencer space has changed drastically since I started blogging almost 5 years ago with the evolution of Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, allowing many more opportunities to make a living in the blogger/influencer space.
Where (emails, billboards, social, product page, etc.) do you think influencer content is most useful for brands?
Influencer content can be useful for brands in any of the above places, but is more dependent on the brand. For example, an email blast from a salad dressing company with links to influencer recipes featuring their salad dressing works well, while a billboard featuring a famous fashion Instagram influencer featuring a particular brand of jeans would work well, but overall, social media is the easiest way for brands to share influencer content and receive engagement from their customers.
A photo posted by Whitney Bond (@whitneybond) on
What image characteristics make for “trusted” influencer or consumer-generated content?
The more someone knows about you, the more they’re going to trust you. I follow several other bloggers who I feel like I could be best friends with, and that’s how I hope many of my followers feel about me. I trust these bloggers to share content that they love, and that I would love also.
What are your top 2-3 tips for taking the perfect food photo? This would be a great space to provide any of your best examples from Insta.
My number one tip for taking the perfect food photo is lighting! If you’re in a restaurant, always try to sit by the window, or outside, but if you’re outside, make sure that you’re not in direct sunlight, and always try to arrive at the restaurant when there’s still light outside, basically, natural lighting is key!
Tip #1: This scrumptious filet at a restaurant in Philly was taken while sitting next to the window in daylight:
Tip #2: When shooting food at home, you can also get a little more creative by making it interactive… twirl that spaghetti or slice into that egg yolk (because everyone loves a little yolk porn!) Action shots can really show off a delicious plate of food and make it come to life for your followers
A photo posted by Whitney Bond (@whitneybond) on
What brands do you think are leveraging user-generated or influencer content the best in food or restaurant world?
Whole Foods. With over 1 million followers on Instagram, thousands of people are using the Whole Foods hashtag #Foods4Thought in hopes to get re-grammed and pick up new followers. In return, Whole Foods has plenty of fantastic user-generated content to choose from for their page!
On the restaurant side, one of my favorite local San Diego restaurants, Puesto, creates picture perfect tacos just begging to be ‘grammed, combine this with their fun social media presence and you have a winning combination!
What are some funny lengths you’ve gone through in order to take the perfect food picture?
I’ve bought a slurpee, then walked 5 blocks away to take a picture of it in front of a brick wall, I’ve staged “doughnut photo shoots” in hotel rooms. At home, I’m always standing on things, chairs, tables, my boyfriend, just kidding, haha! But basically, I’ll walk wherever, stand on whatever and go wherever it takes to get the perfect food shot!
How do you think food and/or restaurant brands could better be leveraging Instagram?
Every food brand and restaurant should have their own hashtag. Restaurants should also be promoting their Instagram handle somewhere in the restaurant, on the menu and on their website. Don’t make it hard for people to tag you! Everyone takes pictures of their food these days, make it easy for them to promote you! Offer a contest with your hashtag, whichever photo gets the most likes each week or month gets a gift card, it keeps popular Instagrammers coming back and gives people a reason to go out of their way to make sure they tag your restaurant and use your hashtag in their posts. For food brands, make sure you’re promoting your Instagram page on your website, and other social media channels, and that you’re posting regularly on Insta.
What’s your favorite food Insta account, favorite restaurant Insta account, and why?
HuffPost Taste is one of my favorite Instagram food accounts, they’re always on trend and the recipes they share not only look delicious, but also doable! I’m always getting inspiration from their posts!
One of my favorite restaurant accounts is District Donuts in New Orleans, they post daily and everything looks so delicious! They also incorporate their employees in fun daily posts which makes it feel more personal. I just wish I lived in New Orleans so I could eat there more often!
Thanks for chatting with us, Whitney! If you want to try any of her scrumptious recipes check out her blog & cookbook and be sure to follow her on Instagram. Looking forward to seeing how her career and this industry continue to evolve. To stay up to date with visual marketing and earned content news, and to see more interviews like this one, subscribe to our blog!