Food is personal- Food is Social
Hello again! Welcome to the second week of my online diary! Following on from last week I can confirm I have delved into the online foodie world and have immersed myself in new social networking channels. I have also considered an online community to focus my project on. Please read on… it is exciting…. 🙂
(Image from own photographic participation)
Researching online communities is so important in todays world as there are over 2.4 Billion internet users in the world! Succeeding organisations in todays digital era do not passively look at their consumers but actively participate and tune in to what consumers are saying, helping them to understand their communities. Companies have steered away from pedalling advertisements at us but actually listen and tune in to what we talking about. This is supported by a journal article I had read this week by Andreas M Kaplan and Michael Haenlein (2009) called “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media”
“Its all about participation, sharing, and collaboration, rather than straightforward advertising and selling.” -Kaplan & Haenlein (2009)
I am going to take a similar approach through my online research by tuning in to the community and listen to what they are saying. In marketing, a popular established method of conducting research on certain social groups is by conducting Focus Groups, however, the scope of the online community has complex layers, which will not be satisfied by asking simple questions.
By taking this approach of conducting reserach of my chosen cyber-culture, I will provided with raw, nuanced data. This will be achieved by looking at any cultural rules, norms, interactions, sanctions and levels within the community.
Our electronic devices such as smart phones, tablets and computers makes us accessible 24/7 , allowing us to communicate with people all over the world whenever we want. I have realised today I have checked my Facebook account about 15 times! It is not even midday! The rise of social networks and the use of digital devices in our lives are the pinnacle of how people can contruct their online identies and create an extension of themselves online. This allows people to showcase their online identies and extend their ‘digital selves.’ This is supported from my current research over the past week in a journal article by Russell Belk (2013) called “Extended Self in a Digital World”
“Today, with these and other digital technologies, the possibilities for self-extension have never been so extensive.” -Belk (2013)
In todays society, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are unavoidable and people are becoming multi-platform consumers due to the rise of digital devices. Digital devices have dramatically changed the way the world communicates forever.
Social media gives individuals unlimited opportunity to portray their personas through whatever content they post. The use of visual media such as photographs and videos creates an instant impression on the auidence. The topic of Food Porn and social media have a strong realtionship – Food is personal- therefore food is social.
To familiarise myself with the Food Porn topic and social media use, I started to take photographs of my own food and post them on my Facebook and newly activated Twitter and Pinterest accounts. On my weekly meeting with Stu at LEAF, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to take start taking photographs of my food.
Todays’ meeting was a bit of an indulgent one as I had chosen a burger and then a chocolate cake, however I usually try to eat healthily, but this is usually on the days when I attend my regular Yoga classes. I feel like today I had let myself down, and people on my news feeds and Twitter who do not know me very well.. may interpret from the virtual world I am a fat pig all the time, however in the real world, I am not always so indulgent.
I never post pictures of my healthy meals therefore the healthy part of my offline identity is neglected through the images I have posted online. You could say I am a little food bipolar…. I strive to be healthy most days, but LOVE to indulge and pig out on other days… which probably does not match my lifestyle on the days I practice yoga.
I shared my indulgence through my newly integrated social media channels such as Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and I included hash tags in order to increase the reach of my posts and to increase additional exposure outside of my friend groups.
Below are some snapshots of my foodie related social networking activity from my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest accounts. The image below is a snapshot of my new Twitter page and my food posting activity created by my embedded Instagram account. The hash tags I have used are a major micro- blogging feature of Twitter which have an aim to reach out to the online community who have an interest in the topic of my post.
I found that #FoodPorn is a trending hash tag, therefore using this with my post expands the reach of my post into the entire Food Porn community on Twitter.
When taking my photos I used my IPhone to take the photographs; however it did not look as vibrant as Stu’s soup did last week and I felt a little jealous at how good his picture looked. I downloaded Instagram on my phone so I could add fancy effects and to enhance my photo even more to ensure a greater affect on my audience.
I found that the bright sunlight outside kept distorting my image which I found annoying so I found myself moving my plate over onto the other side of the table. I did not want the photo to look shabby and unprofessional, especially if that were to be reflected through my self image. The Instagram app allowed me to put greater focus on the main image, allowing me to hone in on the main subject of food making it pop out from the background.
The hash tags I had created where short, simple hash tags which were straight to the point and best described my photo. In relation to creating my social identity, I wanted to stress that this was an indulgent day.. so the use of the words indulgent and naughty paints a picture that I am having abit of a naughty food day.. I also wanted to make my friends a little jealous; therefore I feel enhancing the picture and using words such as yummy and amazing did this justice. This was reflected through feedback from my friends.. such as:
“Mmmmmm I want!!! I would eat the whole cake, not just one slice!! X”
I also wanted to stress to people where I was eating.. I wanted everyone to know I was eating at LEAF.. my favourite tea shop in town. I love tea and I wanted this attribute of my personality to be reflected through my image. On the cake photograph, I incorporated this by including props which were on the table which shown I was also enjoying a lovely tea break.
If I were to draw quick conclusions from my photographs I would not judge that it would show I was a healthy eater. The burger photograph shows that I like to indulge, the spilling tomato sauce may portray that I am a little messy and imperfect. The chocolate cake photograph may reflect that I am a sweet person, indulgent and that I am female. The preparation put into the photo may also represent that I am self-conscious and organised due to the neat arrangement.
This week I also had another opportunity to take pictures of my food for this project. I went to Chaopraya in Liverpool One for a friends birthday. Here is evidence of how I utilised Pinterest to showcase my photograph. The photograph was once again interlinked with Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Once exploring my specific online community for the rest of my project., I will start by evaluating their photos and drawing quick conclusions to how they are trying to portray their identity through the photos in a similar way to what I did with some of my own food images.
As I mentioned earlier.. I practice Yoga, however I feel real Yogis would not post photos of burgers. I pretty much doubt my Yoga teachers would be jealous of my burger photograph as I know that they are either Vegetarian or Vegan and are very health consious. I have noticed that my yoga teachers post recipes and food photos on their social networking sites and the yoga community has a big online presence, therefore this is the community I am going to focus my research on.
Practicing Yoga is something I love, however the yogic lifestyle is not evident in every aspect of my life. I plan to further my Yogic journey in future, therefore I am personally interested in if this research will encourage me to consider changing what I consume in future in order to conform with being a proper yogi.
Most of this weeks findings have come from my own social network feeds, however next week I will be starting to look at how other yogis communicate online.
Thanks for reading, please follow me on my foodie/yogi journey next week!