Foodstagramming and Potato Hashtags: A Social Media Campaign to Sink Your Teeth into

The latest innovation in social media is made of potatoes. And, it’s fried.

Frozen food maker Birds Eye is pioneering a new method of social media marketing where consumers can literally eat social media for breakfast. Though, with Mashtags–fried potatoes shaped like emoticons and hashtags–it’s probably more enjoyable for lunch.

Birds Eye also just launched a pop-up restaurant called Picture House, wherein customers may pay for their meals simply by posting shots of their meals on Instagram. At the pop-up restaurant in London, which just opened, customers can simply upload a photo to Instagram with the hashtag #BirdsEyeInspirations.

The innovative marketing methods are part of a larger marketing campaign from the nearly 70-year-old Feltham, England based Iglo Group, which owned by European private equity firm, Permira. With the hope of doubling its size by 2020, the company is looking into the benefits of social commerce. Marketing director Margaret Jobling told Marketing Week last year that the social media push was intended to build brand loyalty among adult diners and families.

So far the strategy has included everything from Facebook campaigns to social media-themed products like Mashtags. Birds Eye’s most recent foray into social media is intended to promote the launch of its Inspirations line, a new selection of premium chicken and fish recipes.

“The Picture House appeals to the current trend of taking photos of our food and sharing them on social channels and we feel that this is an exciting platform on which to champion two new premium products,” Jobling told Marketing Week.

According to research conducted by Birds Eye, 52 percent of people in the UK regularly snap pictures of their meals. Nine percent admit they cannot go a single day without photographing their food. The jury is still out about just how much of the population enjoys eating hashtags. (Though, we’re pretty sure, it’d be at least 60 percent of Americans.)

Given the new report that Instagram has the highest rate of user engagement with branded content, it’s no surprise that Birds Eye decided to capitalize on the foodstagramming trend. The tag #BirdsEyeInspirations has already generated more than 400 photos on Instagram. The brand is encouraging social media interaction on its own Instagram account, where it uploads its own pictures as well as “regramming” from customers.

While there’s no evidence yet as to whether the campaign will succeed in getting people to actually pay for the Inspirations meals once the pop-up tour is over, customer reactions have been very positive. Instagram user Nick Hay (@heavysound) described his experience at Picture House as an evening of “exceptional food and excellent service.”

Chef Boyardee had better watch its step.

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