Pressure to post

Having a strong social media presence has become a requirement for restaurants who want to stay competitive in a digitalised world. But often these businesses with a low-profit margin don’t have the budget to hire a social media manager. They need to fit in the time to learn about how to best take photographs and style their food for a picture-perfect dish so that they have new content to post every day.

So chefs try to plate their dishes not just so it’s ready for Instagram but so unique or mouth-watering that it’ll stop an Instagram user in their digital tracks. Many people will make their dinner decisions based on a photo of a dish they saw in their morning feed, scrolling through dozens of other images crying for their attention. The pressure can be cosmic.

Stock photos as a quick alternative

Sometimes restaurant owners cave under the pressure and post stock photos on their social media, making it look like the image is of a dish they serve on their menu. But they don’t post to mislead, they post to post. If they miss the timing, not enough diners will come flocking in that evening. Of course, that doesn’t make it acceptable. And it can have negative results for the restaurant as well.

Imagine this. Based on an image you saw on a pancake restaurant’s social media, on your visit to Pancake Heaven you expect a fluffy pancake topped with whipped cream, strawberries, raspberries and chocolate sprinkled on top. You go to Pancake Heaven and outcomes a chewy pancake with clotted cream, strawberries only and no chocolate. You were looking forward to the fluffiness, the raspberries, but it didn’t deliver. It might be the reason why you don’t come back again.

Stock photos may seem like a quick fix, but in the long-term, it does more damage than it does good. Restaurants will benefit from looking at other strategies such as using the same photo again after some time has passed, or taking many photos in one session that can be used over a long period of time.