Knowing how, when, and where to approach a hungry audience is the recipe for success when it comes to food content marketing. While a food company could once turn out an image of a perfectly-prepped–or food-styled–dish and rest on its laurels, today’s consumer wants more.
They want to be courted and wooed with the possibilities of the food–not only the taste, but the feel and ambience of the brand itself. Much like a well-staged home for sale, the accoutrements of food content are the real lure to curious customers: they want to see themselves not only digging in, but enjoying the lifestyle that comes with a particular menu.
What’s New With Food Writing?
As eating styles slowly but surely drift out of the “dieting” category and firmly into the adjacent “lifestyle” camp, more weight is being given to gluten free, paleo, vegetarian, and vegan offerings–both as standalone dishes and as alternative preparations of classic favorites. Consumers are more wary than ever about allergens, and a smart food manufacturer will preemptively disclose potential allergens or the presence of meat in their products. Vegan innovation has been staying high in the headlines, with breakthrough manufacturers of products like the the “bleeding” vegan Impossible Burger, turning heads at Forbes and The Washington Post by simply existing.
Food writing tips vary widely depending on the niche of a particular brand, but on the whole, consumers are favoring shorter, frequently-updated content, such as social media posts and micro blogs, over traditionally long-form blog posts. Consumers want to get the info they need while they’re shopping or deciding between a food brand and its competitors, they want their recipes as an easy-to-follow list or video format, and they want their food brand-based entertainment to be unexpected and personalized.
Food Writing Insights: Social Media
Social media has gone from a megaphone to a canvas, enabling certain brands in the fast food sector to really come into their own. Tapping into the strange, absurdist humor that has become a defining characteristic of the post-Millennial demographic, Denny’s has become a weird, wonderful darling of micro-blogging site Tumblr.
Offering such witticisms as declaring their blood type as “maple,” the brand has embraced their delirium-humor identity as the 3 a.m. mecca of pancakes. Fellow fast food peer Arby’s also keeps it short, sweet, and clever; the chain pairs unusual video game-centric food wrapper sculptures with one-liners for their requisite (and often hungry) fandom.
Food Content Marketing News
Appealing to customer’s ethics in a bid to be first on the menu is no longer restricted to grocery store choices. The fast, casual industry segments are starting to see a strong link between what’s in a customers heart, what’s in their wallet, and what will be in their stomach.
Tex-Mex leader Chipotle has been steadily touting its mindful, eco-friendly sourcing on cups and bags, and a new B2B-level app called MealConnect is giving chains bragging rights by coordinating inventory for leftover food and matching it to a nearby charity in need. While still requiring a delicate copywriting hand to come off as ethical reporting rather than self-congratulating, noting charitable acts and donations are more important than ever in the food industry, both for the community and a company’s PR.
A Few Missteps
People have a very deep connection with their food. It’s a requirement for survival, but it’s also a comfort, a reminder, and even a companion to some. That said, it can’t be arbitrarily inserted into conversations where it doesn’t fit; it will come across as clunky and reek of product placement.
Lucky Charms, for example, got a little too enthusiastic with trying to tie its signature cereal box into the hype leading up to the solar eclipse. After tweeting an image of a man looking straight up at the moon/sun through the box, the brand was inundated with angry consumers. Furious that the popular cereal would advocate a faulty eclipse-watching method that would likely blind or severely injure the eyes of anyone attempting it, the intention was–no pun intended–completely overshadowed.
In a rapid-fire mistake, Wendy’s burger chain, normally one of the best examples of how to win at fast food social media, tripped over its own momentum earlier this year. After getting a lot of great press for its “clapbacks” (snappy, snarky responses to users’ live posts on Twitter) the mind behind the social media stumbled. The account tweeted what seemed like a harmless photo of a popular viral image, called a meme, dressed as its iconic red-braided mascot. Unfortunately, the viral image had officially been declared a hate symbol a few months earlier, after it was enthusiastically adopted as an ad-hoc mascot by social media racists. Being even a few weeks behind of popular culture can cast a brand in a very bad light, which is why it’s important to hire food writers that can confidently navigate social media as a whole.
What’s next for food writing? Expect to see an increased focus on origin stories as consumers seek to trace their favorite foods to the source. Video content is also on the rise in the food and beverage sector, but it can be neatly paired with written, SEO-rich content if attention is given to accurate, disability-friendly transcripts. Bite-sized insights and quips will continue to be the go-to method of staying relevant, so make sure your customers have plenty to sink their teeth into with a robust social media and blog content calendar.
About the author
Delany M is a well-rounded freelancer with an emphasis in product descriptions, landing pages and articles. With over a decade of experience to her credit, she has enjoyed writing for national chain retailers, small e-commerce boutiques and a wide range of service providers. She prides herself in going “beyond the word” to capture the essence of a brand or company, ensuring copy that is as noteworthy as the goods and services her clients provide.