Food Startups and Social Media

Last week there was story doing the rounds in the social media about how a certain Jon Gabrus woke up at 7:30AM in Brooklyn on Friday, got into a cab, flew 13 hours, 6,850 miles, watched 6 movies, drank 2 bottles of red wine and ended up in Dubai (UAE) on Saturday at 9AM, just to eat a pizza with cheeseburgers baked into the crust. Why? Because Pizza Hut Middle East happens to be the only place in the world offering the Cheese Burger Crown Crust Pizza. How a gastronomical abomination grew to be something of global interest is one story, but there is something about food and social media that continues to be bound together in sacred matrimony. Maybe it’s because we love to talk about food. Ice cream brings a smile to our face, the mention of burgers and steaks makes our tummies rumble and the memory of milkshakes and smoothies brings back happy memories of brain freeze. What’s more important is the fact that we talk about it on Twitter and Facebook more fondly than many other things.

Startups in the Middle East are using social media to increase awareness, word of mouth and hence sales for their outlets. These enterprises don’t have access to the massive media budgets that the likes of Pizza Hut would, but it’s their ability to generate buzz, and communicate with their audience that has resulted in a fair share of the market. Wild Peeta in the UAE, which serves gourmet shawarmas, is one example. With more than 9000 followers on Twitter and regular interaction with its fans in place, the single outlet has grown in popularity.

Their social media dynamics represents a sense of individuality as the Twitter feed is not all about what happens at the restaurant. The founders also tweet about their day to day lives and most of their tweets actually make interesting reading, Now I shamelessly admit I have cravings for dessert perhaps all day long. I have had pan cakes for breakfast, ice cream for lunch and cakes for dessert, so I love going around town sampling sweet delights. I saw a post on Facebook from an outlet specializing in cupcakes called ‘Hey Sugar’. They have about 1000 followers on Twitter, and their Facebook page is a few hundred members away from the 5000 mark. They keep uploading their new creations and additions to the menu and keep telling people about their new outlets, etc. Now its no wonder cupcakes look really good on your Facebook wall hence it’s a good element to go viral with, which it does.

As I see more and more outlets mushroom around town – gourmet bakeries, ethnic cuisine, fast food joints,- one thing common among them all is the keenness and drive to be present on social media. Not only because of the relatively low cost of promotional value assigned to it, but also because their posts and updates express the thought process of the entrepreneurs lending a humane element to the interaction. This is how I interpret it. Now back to my milkshake.


One Response to “Food Startups and Social Media”

  1. Alok
    May 23, 2012 at 6:18 am #

    can’t agree more…..

    With the capitalist world giving valuations of more than $100b to FB… Social media is becoming another part of our life.. Increasing participation of social media in normal life is making business houses think on various mode of integration with social media….

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