A fight always goes on in this age of digital media boom. Let’s take a situation, some hotel or restaurant has invited a blogger (let’s keep the genre open…) or social media influencer (or even maybe a group)…. they’ve given them food, drinks (please mind, it’s a non-paid association). Now, definitely the outlet will have some expectations from him/ her. On the other side, a blogger/ social media influencer has visited an outlet (on the invitation of course) and took the pain/ pleasure of writing about it in his/ her social media circuit. So, definitely, there’ll be some expectation on his/ her behalf as well.
The problem starts when everyone thinks otherwise
Situation 1: even if a food blogger/ influencer eats at an outlet, pays his/ her bill and praises it for good food, people take that as a paid promotion.
Situation 2: In the same scenario, if the food/ service is actually bad and he/ she bashes with valid reason- people take them as vengeance for not getting something in return. And food blogger/ influencer bashing is the in-thing today, due to stupidity of a handful of miscreants.
In fact, few restauranteurs are naive enough to feed/ spend the food blogger/ influencer rather than spending on getting constructive criticism or product development. Now, naturally, few are taking the easy path for social media visibility/ entertainment and the whole fraternity is facing the music. Now, what I’ve experienced in my last very small food-blogging experience, these 2 expectations sometimes don’t match and a big fight starts. So, in this long and boring article, I’d like to write on as a food blogger, what I expect while on a food-tasting session and what an F&B outlet can expect from my visit.
Warning: this won’t have any food review, so please go scroll further at your own risk.
Somewhere in a parallel universe
Idiot: So, Mr. Influencer, another food tasting session yesterday? Huh? I saw those pics of you on FB/ Instagram and where not… Somebody seems to enjoy life it seems
Influencer: Hell, yes man. Another one of those endless tiring sessions.
Idiot: Tell me something, why do these restaurants feed you? I mean they must love you so much that they spend for you to enjoy your meal…
Influencer: Not really dude. It’s pure business. See, due to some god-knows-what reason, I’ve got a strong presence in social media and from my size, one can easily understand that I love food (pointing towards the belly). So, all these guys want from us is to reach our contacts about their food and publicize it. It’s a pure ROI based model
Idiot: Now, what is ROI ? And, don’t utter these management terms in front of me. Tell me something in clear language. If they call you and treat you, what can they expect from you
Influencer: Ahhh….. firstly, what they can expect from me is a check-in (across social media channels) with some nice and catchy pic. This will get a few clients drawn towards them thinking that if this guy likes this place, so might we… And, secondly, a few pics of food (of course not of my bloody face trying to act happy holding a food plate) and a few words describing the food (for my audience to have an idea of what can be expected there). And lastly, a blogpost / a tomato review (I do tend to clear the timing of publication before visiting the place) giving them an honest review. But again, this will be my understanding and is bound to be subjective. And off course, sharing of the same across social media.
Idiot: But, again, if they feed you, they’ll expect good reviews irrespective of what is served. Won’t they? At least I would’ve expected so.
Influencer: That’s the precise reason, you’re an idiot. People might go there once based on my review, but the repeat visit depends on the outlet. And, if a food blogger or supposedly a food-gyani doesn’t give them constructive criticism, why they would call us? If something is wrong, it’s our job to point it out as well as a suggestive solution. Only bashing never works.
Idiot: Okay, now that I understood the outlet’s takeaway, let’s understand what you expect from them. They’re giving you free food, you shouldn’t expect anything else
Influencer: See, for every visit, we spend some time from our daily schedule and in more tangible terms, some time, where we could have done something for us/ our families. Secondly, we have to spend on our car fuel/ taxi fare to reach that place. Needless to mention, we have to invest in our skills and gadgets while taking food pictures and to write the review. Finally, sharing the post in multiple forums to make it more visible. So, it’s not an easy thing you see
Idiot: You’re again getting me confused. If you spend so many things, then why do you even go and what do you expect from there?
Influencer: You bloody idiot, can’t you see? We love food, that’s one thing. But, moreover, we want to experience their hospitality. A certain amount of respect we can always ask for and I don’t think it’ll be too much to ask for
Idiot: Errrr…. no, I guess no. But are you setting up a guideline to invite you?
Influencer: Not really or rather why not, if you want a blunt answer. The outlet is spending some money on me (for their food cost) and definitely they should be expecting some specific action from me so that they can justify their investment and see the return. This is ROI on their part. And, as a food blogger, I’ve invested my time, energy, expertise and money on visiting that joint. So, I definitely can expect some respect in return … That’ll be my ROI. And, none of us so-called influencers are powerful enough neither to take promote a rubbish joint nor to take down a sincerely good joint. The outlets should have belief in themselves and take us as their partner for growth, neither as any monster nor as their father’s servants.
This is an imaginary conversation and is not related to anybody in specific. But yes, we, food bloggers/ so-called social media influencers do have some responsibility towards our hosts and expect something in return. It’ll be a win-win situation if both parties understand that. Amen !!!
Comments and critics welcome
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Ok for an idiot who loves food and starting as a food blogger, what should he or she do in the beginning? How much should she invest in (in terms of money and time) to make her mark? Should she review joints that are well reviewed or should she review lesser known ones which may not have a social media presence?
I guess, it’ll be better to review the places where he/she visits- the known places and try to learn from the forums/ social media feedbacks. And at the end of the day, blogging starts from the desire of expressing oneself. Everything else comes afterwards
Aa a restaraunter I have hosted couple of bloggers and other food critics in my restaurant.
Indeed from what the article I have understood that the bloggers and critics who spend their valuable time, should be given free opinion on the food they have tasted and review on various social platforms.
But lately what I have seen is jacked up reviews for certain restaurants when the food is not the same when gone in person.
I strongly believe that whosoever the critique might be should be paying a minimal amount to the restaurant where being hosted ,can truly judge on what he/she is paying for.
I have had situations where some of the B(bloggers) & C(Critiques) want to teach professional chefs how a certain dish has to be made.
Guys from a restaurant’s perspective we are in the field where we are constantly judged and the result is always immediate, all I say that you need to have more compassion and see that we go to great lengths to please our customer and with one review you shred the whole work we have done.
I am not here to hurt anyones feelings, but these have been my observations from the other side of the table.
Absolutely sir. I fully agree to your points. We, as bloggers, are mostly not qualified enough to teach a chef how to cook food. But if something goes really wrong, then we might. And secondly, what bloggers can describe is his/ her personal experience while having the food. Food, being an extremely subjective matter, it goes. I’ve just tried to summarise the expectations from both sides of the table. That’s all. But appreciate your comment, really
As a small time magazine we too get invites to restaurants often. But we stopped visiting soon when we realized that the experience of an invite never matches that of a regular visit, making us untrue to our audience (an expensive mistake).
This is also the reason we love your blog. Unbiased and direct 🙂
Thanks a ton