Monthly Archives: January 2011

Eating Social: The Intimate Relationship Between Food and Our Social Networks

Eating is probably one of the most social things we do in our day. Regardless of how “plugged-in” we are, most of us can pry the iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android from our hands for long enough to enjoy a meal with our friends. But not before we source a restaurant from Urban Spoon, Yelp, or our trusty Twitter and Facebook communities. And then there’s the obligatory check-in on our location-based poison of choice when we arrive at the restaurant, followed by a quick scan of available tips to help us determine “what’s good here.”  We usually relinquish our online social selves once we take our seats, at least momentarily, until the food arrives and we snap a quick picture of what we’re chowing down on and share the snapshot on Twitter, Facebook, our blogs, or wherever else we share content.

According to a recent Foursquare blog post, Foursquare check-ins categorized in the “Food” category far outranked check-ins at any other type of venue.

Foodspotting, an application dedicated to visually sharing the most scrumptious food we come across to our followers so they can “Nom,” “Want,” and eventually claim it for themselves, reached over 450,000 users last year. BlogWorld Expo, a conference known for having its finger on the pulse of blogging trends, offered a food blogging track for the first time in 2010. There’s also a ton of other conferences dedicated solely to the art of food blogging (check out this great post from NamelyMarley for a list of the 2011 events).

You could say 2010 was a big year for food and how we consume it. It crossed over from being an old-time staple in our offline social lives, to the shiny, new main event in our online social communities. Our eating experiences are no longer confined to the restaurant table. Instead, they’re immortalized online in photos, tips, reviews, and blogs to be viewed, shared, and admired by the social web. Eating social is my favorite example of how our online behaviors and connections fuel our offline actions which, in turn, influence the content we create and share with our social networks.

So, with all this eating we did in 2010, do you think our offline attempts to burn the calories will creep into the content we share online? My friend Mike LaMonica noticed the social fitness trend starting among South Florida Tweeters in 2010, but I haven’t seen the same prevalence in my new Providence ‘hood. Yet. Great apps like RunKeeper and Nike’s fitness application make me think this year will be the year we feel the burn, even in the midst of the Northeast’s bitter cold.