Google, Grazia, and Loren

Last week I was lucky enough to grab a ticket to the Grazia Google Food for Thought event, in which a number of influential women who have recently taken the food industry by storm shared their thoughts and experiences on how digital has transformed the way we cook, eat and create food brands and businesses in 2016. Food, technology, awesome speakers, bubbles AND a chance to hang out at Google? What’s not to love about that!

The panel line up was impressive, and Google’s Head of Marketing Nishma Robb clearly took delight in sharing the stage with Grazia’s Deputy Editor Caroline Barrett before introducing our fabulous foodies Madeline Shaw, Uyeen Luu and Romina Chiappa who were being put through their paces by Sky TV’s Sarah-Jane Mee. A stage full of inspirational women who are each running successful businesses built around their genuine passion for making great food, and who have used the ever-evolving technological landscape to their advantage to grow and nourish a loyal fanbase which most brands would sell their grannies for.

There’s no denying it, they all agreed, that today’s dinner table has changed- from the food and drink we place on it, to the way in which we behave when we’re sat there. We seek recipe inspiration online not only in the form of typical lists and instructions, but photos, vlogs and video tutorials guide us through the process like a digital sous chef. We take photos of the food we eat, and swiftly upload to a multiple of online channels (after a heavy dose of cropping, filtering and hashtagging). We even painstakingly input every crumb we consume into our meal tracker apps and record our calorie consumption on our fitbits.

From TV, to apps, to blogs, to social media to YouTube Channels, these ladies have truly harnessed the power of all things digital. They’re helping to lead the way and define the forefront of what’s ‘in’ when it comes to what and how we eat, educating and inspiring the masses with their accessible and personal approaches to delicious food. Technology has propelled them into the limelight, and given them the opportunity to share their recipes, techniques and of course photos of their daily offering of #whatIatetoday with the world.

It’s easy to question whether, in the age of all things digital, something more traditional like a paperback cookbook even has a place anymore? It was a firm YES from our panel, “I’m buying more cookbooks than I’ve ever bought before” exclaimed Sarah-Jane; and she’s right. There’s something very satisfying about a physical curation of beautiful and exciting cookbooks organised elegantly on a shelf, showcasing the breadth of your knowledge and discernment when it comes to food- because let’s face it, even if it’s not digital, it’s still all about social currency right?

Our tech savvy ladies had some advice for brands, and other entrepreneurs seeking to harness the power of technology to reach out to the world- regardless of whether your mission is food focused or not:

  • “Each social media platform speaks a different language”, videos on Instagram SHOULD be different to videos on Youtube, as each serves a specific purpose and demographic so content needs to be developed with this in mind.
  • “Be truthful to your original values”, people see straight through you, and will quickly discard you if it doesn’t seem genuine, staying true to a purpose/ message/ idea is vital and whilst growth is important, retaining authenticity is more so.
  • “Plan carefully where and when to post”, who are you trying to speak to? What will they be doing right now? When are they most receptive, and in what arena? These are the questions you need to know the answers to.
  • “Connect with your audience”, you exist at the mercy of those who read your posts. Be understanding and receptive of their comments, and interact on a personal level to
  • “Never stop seeking inspiration yourself”, our panellists all had a plethora of other inspirational digital foodies who they aspire to be like themselves. They’re certainly not resting on their laurels, and they very clearly LOVE what they do, and continue to find ways to grow individually.

Technology has drastically changed the way in which people can (and do!) pursue success. It’s created a multitude of platforms for “the average joe” to communicate their thoughts and ideas far and wide, gaining traction with a captivated audience far quicker than in the past. Last year saw infamous YouTuber PewDiePie appear on the Forbes Rich List, and I’m sure the names of more riders of the digital wave will join him as time goes on.