Afterthoughts: Don’t Shoot the Messenger
There’s a reason I take so many food pictures.
“People used to pray before they ate.”
I barely heard the comment over the clanking of my friends’ dishes being passed around Over Easy’s sunny outdoor table as we each sought perfect photos of our Sunday brunch dishes.
“What did they just say?”
The couple next to our table was clearly judging our premeal ritual. My brunch buddies just rolled their eyes and passed the French toast so we could Instagram the crème fraîche before it melted.
Yes, I take a lot of photos of my food. Often, it’s part of my job. Sometimes I’m writing a piece for our food blog and need shots for the web and social media. I never know when I might come across something worth sharing with readers on the @honolulumag channels. But I also post photos just to share with my friends and followers. Those judgy brunchers may not understand the value in that, but a lot of companies do—and now they post on social media way more often than on their websites.
Small businesses often repost customers’ photos of their products (so you know they’re not styled by the company to look better than they really are), announce deals and share news on their feeds. Restaurants especially know how important social media can be. The more photogenic the food (and the custom dishware and quirky décor), the more people will share photos and intrigue their followers. Hand-lettered sayings, nifty wallpaper patterns, eccentric light fixtures, bright hues and cute shapes are irresistible to us Instagrammers. It’s a genius marketing strategy. And it’s free. For companies, it’s a great way to spread the word and infiltrate our everyday lives, rather than hope we’ll check out their stores or websites regularly.
Some places don’t even update their websites. If you go to chinguhawaii.com, there’s not a lot there—not even a menu. But follow @chinguhawaii on Instagram and you’ll find out about exclusive events not mentioned anywhere else, such as Chingu’s collaboration with Senia chef Chris Kajioka last September that sold out in a matter of hours. Last time I had dinner there, I went specifically to order a special I saw in a photo that wasn’t even listed on the menu. And after I posted my own photo of it (kim chee fried rice topped with cheese, olives and pepperoni—pizza rice!), I got a comment from my co-worker saying, “Whattttttt?! I must try this!!”
I’ve also used Instagram to find Black Friday sales that weren’t advertised anywhere else. A friend recently sent me Ginger13’s post showing gorgeous new malachite necklaces, and even though I walk past the shop on a regular basis, I had no idea these babies were for sale. Some shops, such as clothing boutique Valia Honolulu, take orders through Instagram, now that the app has a selling capability: Just click a photo to see prices, more info and photos.
I don’t think my generation is obsessed with social media because we’re self-centered and want constant attention. It’s how we connect, support one another and share info. It’s nice to know that even if I haven’t been to Smith & Kings in ages, I have friends who will send me a screenshot of its new brunch hours saying, “Did you see this?”