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Has Social Media Changed the Business of Dining?

Delhi posted on 24 February

One of the raging debates in our office is the permanent plus-one {sometimes unwanted} guest at the supper table, Monsieur Social Media. Don’t get us wrong; we spend an embarrassing amount of time on food websites, food blogs, food handles, food pins, food tweets, food snaps. When we see a beautiful plate of food, our phone gets first access– guilty as charged.

Eating for us is a social activity, nothing better than a large table with lots to eat, drink, and share laughs with. But it’s interesting to see a systemic shift in adding social media to this social activity. If done correctly, it throws important light on eating patterns, culinary trends, and make eating establishments raise the bar for an educated and informed palate.

Recent conversations with friends in the restaurant industry have thrown light on new insights of the business. Rewind to 2012, where most restaurateurs were busy building concepts to enable a culinary shift in the capital, handling service staff issues, dealing with government officials, meeting the one-odd food mag editor.

Time lapse to 2016, where over and above the previous list, they now have an extra element on their plate–The Onslaught of Social Media.

Like every coin, this one has two sides, the Beauty and the Beast. The beauty of this medium has helped power the inception of many food start-ups, food behavioural pattern studies, and upped the viability of careers like food styling {if only you knew the tricks used!} and food photography.

Without having to fly down to remote corners of the globe, a strong percentage learn and discover food through social networks. Your Twitter feed ain’t legit if you don’t have a waffle picture from Depot 29; your Facebook feed ain’t winning if you haven’t shared a 28-second video-recipe of a triple-layer Nutella & PB cake; your Facebook feed definitely ain’t strong if you still haven’t checked into ATM Delhi. We are a food-obsessed community who turn to social media to learn, discover and satiate our food cravings.

So what wrong could this all-powerful medium do to the food industry? Reviewing some of the food forums and websites online, we’re not sure whether to laugh, or be bewildered at the rigour {or lack of} with which food and establishments are critiqued. Social media has accredited every diner {with a smartphone} the certification to be next {armchair} food critic with a culinary palate so discerning, that it must be voiced loud and proud {behind the comfort of a laptop screen}.

Incongruous billing, inconsistent seasoning, incoherent service or that naughty spoon placed at an incorrect angle; you know where to name and shame. Forget that lovely li’l manager who could address the matter in half the time you take to draft that venomous “review”. Have social media, must share.

We are a team of old souls- Aretha Franklin instead of JBieb, tumblers of Old Fashioned instead of bulletproof coffees, speak-to-the-manager instead of washing dirty linen online. Which brings us to wonder/marvel at the power of Social Media that has single-handedly changed the business of food and diner etiquette.

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