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Let's Get Social

Let's Get Social

It's time we posted. Social media is not going away. It has become a way of life. It's how we keep our friends updated on our day and what we are eating. Speaking of eating, I'll bet you in the last 20 seconds, there were about 100,000 food photos posted and 1,000,000 likes. Now don't quote me on that stat but I'm sure it's pretty close give or take 25,000. You are probably asking yourself why should I trust you. Why wouldn't you? I won "Social Media Person of the Year" in 2016 in Chicago. They don't just give that award to anyone.  I guess I might be doing something right when it comes to being social. I truly love sharing my food because I want to remember the beauty of the plate. Chefs are like artists and once I clean my  plate then the masterpiece is gone. I shoot photos because I want to have a record of it, so others can enjoy my moment of culinary bliss. Why am I sharing this? Restaurants need to understand how important being social is. It's a way to share with your current and future customers.

I want to share a few tips with you on how to share your culinary creations. I talk to many chefs and owners who tell me they don't have any time for this. I understand that but I always tell them they are already at the restaurant and they are surrounded with content.

1) Natural Light

I highly recommend you take photos during the day time. Your food dishes will look fantastic. It's not uncommon for me to grab my dish and head outside to the restaurant's patio. The photos in natural light simply pop and will make your customers drool. I once had an outdoor table say, "You're killing me! I wish we ordered what you ordered!" They hadn't  even seen my photos yet. I couldn't resist showing them the final shots. They were amazed! They told me the photos looked even better than the dishes they saw. I hadn't even used a single filter! Natural light is the key to capturing the best food or cocktail shots ever. When sampling specials of your new dishes, make sure you snag a photo prior to the staff diving in for a bite. It will keep your waste and food costs down plus you have great content that will drive customers to visit your restaurant for their next meal.

2) Close Up vs Top Down

This is a style choice. It isn't wrong or right but it's the way you capture your dish. I always shoot both ways because I never know which one I will use. I usually lean towards the close up. I love getting into my food. I've had other bloggers write me and say, "I saw your final shot and it's amazing. I was watching you shoot from across the room and I kept saying what is this guy doing! Now that I've seen the final shot, I totally get it." I always say, find your style and develop it. This will set you apart from others who are posting food photos.

Top down is a great choice for artistic dishes. It shows everything on the plate from the sides to the main to the garnish. It is a true representation of what the customer will be experiencing when they dine at your restaurant. It is not flashy or exciting but rather a simplistic style.

Don't stop there. Once you start shooting, you can always get creative beyond those table shots by adding a hand holding a plate or using a knife to cut. Show me the floor or shoes in the background as you hold a plate. It's all about getting artistic with your food. These are advanced techniques that come with time and creativity but don't be afraid to experiment because you might have the next great shot on your hands.

3) Sharing on multiple platforms: Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, etc

This can take some work but it's important to reach all your fans. I find that different people follow me on different platforms. If you follow me on Twitter that doesn't mean you also follow me on Instagram. I don't want to miss an opportunity, so I share on multiple platforms. The content I share is different but it's keeping me active in the world of social media.  Many restaurants will have multiple accounts but may only post activity on Facebook. I've seen some restaurants that haven't posted on Twitter in years and it makes me sad. The account sits there with a lonely old post from 2015. If I searched for your restaurant, I guarantee that I am not the only one. I'm sure something has happened at your restaurant within the last two years like a Friday night special or even a happy hour.  If you don't tell me, then I'm going to go to another restaurant. You are missing the opportunity to talk to people in social media. Stay active and the customers will follow.

4) Tell a Story

This is my biggest pet peeve. I've seen restaurants just post a food photo. That's it! No description! No Hashtag! Nothing! At first, I think it's a contest and I need to guess what the dish is. The photo may look amazing but what is it? I once showed a waitress a photo on Instagram and told her I would like to order that. She looked at the photo and had no idea what it was. The photo was from her restaurant. She had to take my phone into the kitchen to ask the chef what the dish was. I really had second thoughts about ordering this mystery dish. Don't make it hard on the customer. We want to eat your food and the story tells us why we should love it even more.

Does the produce or protein come from a local farm? As a customer, I want to know what I am eating and if it is local please tag the farm. This cross marketing helps the local farm and your restaurant. The local farm may start sharing your finished dishes using their products and getting you even more customers who support local food. We all want to know the story and it makes us love your photo or post even more.

5) Tag your Photo & Location

Use your location because it tells people where you are at. For example, always add your location on Instagram. It creates a great database of photos of your restaurant. When I search your location, then all of your photos show up. It makes a nice portfolio of everything that's happening at your restaurant.

6) Be Social

It just doesn't stop at the post. When fans write on Facebook, answer them back. If they love the dish, tell them thank you. I love it when I have an incredible meal and I post about it. It really makes my day when the restaurant tells me thank you for dining with them or shares a compliment on my photo. I feel like this restaurant cares about its customers and I can not wait to go back. In fact, I want to return and post again on my next visit. The restaurant is making me a fan and I will keep coming back for more.

7) Give Credit and Share

All customers have become part of the media. In the old days, you would have one photo of your dish in the local newspaper. Now, your customers are your reporters. You probably have a ton of content from your restaurant plastered all over the Internet. Your customers will shoot your dishes from every angle and even create video of them cutting your egg yolk. That video might even Boomerang! What is that? It's exactly what it sounds like. The video will bounce back and forth.  It's going to happen. Don't be afraid. Check out what your customers are sharing and you might be surprised at the amazing content you are getting. It's okay to share those shots as long as you give credit to the photographer. Some restaurants will ask me for permission to use my photos on their social media and I am always happy to say yes and share them as long as I get a photo credit. Some restaurants have taken my photos without any request and that makes me mad. Trust me, you don't want to make me mad. I typically will write them a note and they will respond with an apology and an updated credit. Get social with your fans and they will share everything about your restaurant.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your camera and shoot some content. Share it with your customers.

Yes, social media takes time but that's the investment you need to make as you move into the future. The world of dining has sure changed. It's all about the "Tweet Before You Eat" generation.

Anthony Martorina 


Anthony Martorina is a social influencer. He has over 1600 online reviews of restaurants along with over 11,000 photos of food. Anthony is currently a Yelp Elite, Google Local Guide and a Top Contributor for Trip Advisor including being a VIP guest host on their Twitter chats. He recently won the prestigious "Social Media Person of the Year Award 2016" in Chicago for being incredibly active on all fronts of the social market. He loves sharing his foodie adventures with the World.

Anthony is also the original Cheferee of Culinary Fight Club which is a monthly cooking competition that started in Chicago three years ago and is currently in 17 cities. Money raised from events goes to a charity called Fight2Feed. Since 2015 the charity has fed over 40,000 hungry Chicagoans. He contributes to the social media for both brands creating awareness through building social relationships and was recently named the President of the charity.

Anthony was the host of the culinary stage for the 2017 Travel & Adventure Show. He had the distinct honor of cooking alongside award winning international & local chefs. Together, they cooked incredible cuisines from around the world from Korea to Key West. You name it, he helped cook it on stage.

You can catch him moderating the #FoodTravelChat weekly at 7pm CT on Wednesdays.

Follow & Like:
Instagram: @anthonymartorina
Twitter: @ant_kneee

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