On Facebook, Instagram, and all across the world wide web, videos and photos of food remain one of the most popular and clickable types of content.
The most viewed video on Facebook last month was only 77 seconds long. The only character seen is a hand. The only words spoken are a moaned ‘Oh, yes’ during the credits, and the soundtrack is the type of bar-jazz that belongs in an elevator. It doesn’t really sound like a recipe for success.
So why has this video become so absurdly successful?
Because it’s freakin’ delicious.
The video we’re talking about is a recipe for Churro Ice Cream Bowls on the Buzzfeed Facebook page called ‘Tasty’. The time-lapse footage takes you through the process of making a surprisingly simple (and very yummy looking) donut bowl. We’re already salivating, which means we have fallen victim to porn. (And at work, no less — how shocking!)
‘Food porn’ refers to gorgeous and glamorised portrayals of food on the internet, and it has always been popular. The massive success of the Churro video is partly due to the fact that it steps beyond the traditional food porn category, and plants itself within another internet phenomenon — the ‘life hack’. Life hacks are all about finding faster, easier and better ways to perform daily tasks, and then sharing this profound knowledge with the public. (And it doesn’t get more profound than having access to bowl-shaped churros in your own home.)
This is a great example of a brand being aware of their digital landscape, latching onto current trends, and reaping the rewards that follow.
To put it into scale: YouTube’s most watched video, ‘Gangnam Style’, took 51 days to reach 100 million views. Tasty’s Churro bowl video, meanwhile, has reached an incredible 120 million views in just ten days.
It is difficult to compare the viewer rates of Facebook and YouTube, but it is worth noting that the short video also has 2.8 million shares, 1.7 million likes and reactions, and has gained more than 320,000 comments. Certainly nothing to sneeze at.
The Internet and Food: a better love story than Twilight
A video about a New York restaurant that took melted cheese to a whole new level made a sensational 80 million views in just one week. That is equivalent to the views made by the Star Wars trailer for ‘The Force Awakens’ over a year. And that was the third most seen video in 2015.
Out of the ten most seen videos on Facebook in March 2016, four are about food. The digital reality is that food and the internet are undeniably linked.
Instagram has brought a new level of visibility to food; a shining review is just a snap away, but so is a scathing critique. The purely visual medium of Instagram means just tasting great is no longer enough. Chefs have begun to change the way they prepare and arrange their dishes. Restaurants are even arranging their lighting to assist with creating optimal smartphone photographs — all because they are aware that their creation could go viral.
In fact, there are more than 178 million photos tagged #food on Instagram, and 56 million specifically tagged #foodporn.
Some of our favourite posts from the instagram hashtag #foodporn
Discussions about food are rife across the world wide web. On food blogs and social media, we discuss the new super healthy smoothies, vegan lifestyles, homegrown vegetables, superfoods, and the latest diet trends. Millions of bloggers show off their skills online in a never-ending cookbook. Digital engagement around food continues to grow.
But why food?
Food is the perfect non-verbal symbol. Everybody understands food and, more importantly, everybody loves food. It is naturally a huge part of our lives. Food imagery can be a representation of brand identity, or a way to show off our personalities. Going out for dinner with your partner, to lunch with colleagues, or cooking at home for the family are social events that are important to us and that we love to do.
Restaurants, cafés and brands of all industries and sizes are rushing to create content that captures such exponential engagement. That’s not to say the process is easy. Good food photography and videography must be high-quality, well-lit, and able to entice the proverbial palate in the same way that the smell or taste of food would do. The best food videos also have the ‘life-hack’ element, making complicated or time-consuming tasks appear easy, enticing the viewer to try the recipe for themselves.
Dayna Evans asked the producer of Tasty, Andrew Gauthier, about their success. He explained that social media has a very direct connection to food; it’s about the exchange of experiences with friends and families, and sharing beautiful moments.
That’s why food works so well on social media, where content creation is inexpensive, and where viewer gratitude can be expressed with one simple click of the ‘Like’ button.
Food porn is a way of finding new ideas, gaining inspiration, and indulging in the things that matter to us. It is also indicative of the massive potential for success that comes from being aware — and taking advantage — of current and ongoing trends. Online marketers dream of seeing engagement rates like that Churro bowl video.
So remember: love (and porn) is always worth a share.