There are many different trends in the food world these days. The biggest innovation to dining in the last few years happens to be in most people's pocket or purse. The smartphone and the invention of the App store has really opened up the way that restaurant information is delivered to you. And now, with more and more restaurants getting on the Social Media band wagon, rewards are common for being someone who follows their favorite restos.
We’ve all used Facebook. Many of us use Twitter. There are still many more out there that can help you find restaurants, recipes and helpful hints and tips about food and cooking. They're also becoming a great way to build a relationship with your favorite restaurant and even deal with issues that might come up if it wasn't such a nice dining experience.
Facebook is the king of social media and virtually every one uses it almost everyday. But did you know that you can do more than just give your old high school friends updates on your kids sporting events?
In addition to everyday people using Facebook to keep friends up to date on their lives, businesses have been cashing in as well. If you do a search for your favorite local restaurant, grocery store or even food blog, chances are good you’ll find their business page. “LIKE” it and you’ll receive updates on what’s going on at the drop of a hat.
You can find out when your favorite restaurant adds to its menu, when they are doing promotions, or other updates restaurant owners want their customers to see faster than diners will get to their websites. Many restaurants post pictures of specials and some businesses will even give you free stuff or discounts just for clicking that “like” button.
Twitter is thought of as only being used by the young and hip, but can be an excellent tool for finding out the latest trends in the food world. From 140 character recipes to your favorite celebrities restaurant picks, you can follow local businesses, bloggers and anyone who has anything to say. Another great thing is that you can do a search and see what people are talking about in the food world because, if anyone is talking about it, they’re talking about it on Twitter.
Tasty is the newest entry into the food related App marketplace. It has all the usual features, like letting you add pictures and view the restaurant menu, but it also has the bonus of letting you schedule dinners between you and your friends. It sends out invites to who you select and lets them RSVP, or cancel if they have to, and everybody on the list gets a notification. I've used the app a few times for this feature and it has worked perfectly.
This is one that I have just recently discovered with Vancouver's Dine Out festival. The Open Table service has been around for around 12 years now. It let's you make dinner reservations with participating restaurants, with the bonus of earning points that can redeemed for Open Table gift certificates good at the restaurants that participate in the service. It started out as an online based service but has expanded into the iOS App store with a iPhone and iPad version.
Yelp is a popular review site that allows users to review restaurants, along with any other business in their area. You can build a profile and connect with other users based on their choices for reviews and restaurants. Make new friends or connect with old, you can’t go wrong with Yelp. The other bonus with Yelp is that it has listings for stuff pretty much Canada wide and covers more than just food; bars, gas and drugstores are listed, as well as deals and check-in offers. While Urbanspoon is user and blogger based, Yelp is just user based and does not feature blogger reviews the way that Urbanspoon does.
Urbanspoon is the grand daddy of all the food apps and is a big player in a lot of bloggers lives. This app is just restaurant focused and unlike Yelp, Urbanspoon hosts reviews from bloggers as well. The one downside to Urbanspoon is that it isn't available in every city. But, where it does have coverage it has come in handy when looking for places to eat when you're in unfamiliar territory.
The bottom line with all these Apps and social media options is that it's a great, FREE way for you to get the word out about your blog and make great connections with the blogosphere out there.
- Check in: Want your friends to know where you are at all times? Use Yelp or FourSquare to check in at your favorite places. These apps use your GPS location to figure out exactly where you are and share the information on the app or by uploading to Facebook.
- You can even earn discounts at participating places by earning “mayor” or “duke” rankings by simply checking in. Now you can be digitally rewarded for simply visiting your favorite places.
- Fill It In: Take the extra few minutes to fill in online profile for these sites with as much info about you and your blog as you can. It's more likely that a reader will click on your profile to find out info about you rather than navigating your site for the About me page.
- Upload Your Pictures: A lot of these apps have the ability to host pictures and uploading your pictures to each one is a great way to get exposure and also grab readers that might not have found your website. Plus, it's a form of free web hosting for your images that gets you 24/7 exposure to the world.
Smartphones, Apps and Social Media: Changing the Way We Dine was written by Sean Neild, author of Sean's Adventures in Flavortown. A born and raised Vancouverite, Sean's on a quest to find the best food Vancouver has to offer. With a background in the video game industry, he combines his love of technology, photography and good food to bring his blog to life. Sean also contributes to Eat In Eat Out Magazine and www.vancouverstreeteats.ca. You can find Sean on twitter: @YVRBCbro, Facebook and on Zagat.