11.18.2015: Recommendations / Instagram Pros


Food Instagrammers Turn Accounts Into Profession

Those of you living under rocks may have missed the proliferation of pay-for-play public relations strategy that’s been finding its way into highly visible social media users’ accounts lately. For the rest of us, we undersand that people with large followings are paid or receive benefits for posting favorably about a brand — or in this case, place. So then, no surprise that this carries over to food and restaurants.

The Wall Street Journal has a quick piece about the phenomenon as it applies to food Instagrammers, and quotes The Infatuation’s Andrew Steinthal, who correctly calls it the Wild West. There aren’t rules around this sort of thing yet. Professional journalists and food critics are bound by ethics rules and have to disclose any gifts they receive; this same logic does not apply to the random “foodie” with an iPhone.

That said, I guess I can’t find anything wrong with this; at least for now. Though my journalist roots and perhaps naive sense that social media should reflect honesty and integrity disagree. It’s unrealistic to expect that food instagrammers will make a living off of this, at least in the long term. But I’m sure they’ll get a ton of free food and drinks, and that’s not the worst game in town.



Would You Prefer Your Recommendations From a Human or Robot?

Great piece on Eater this week about the newest restaurant recommendation technology. Apparently, the most sought-after advice on Facebook happens to be restaurant recommendations (I hadn’t thought about this before, but that makes a whole lot of sense.) The piece talks about two services:Luka (available in San Francisco), and TextRex

(in New York but probably more cities soon). The important distinction in these two products is that they recommend restaurants in a text interface (or by text message), so it’s almost like you’re asking a friend. The main difference: Luka uses AI, TextRex is manned by humans that draw from The Infatuation’s vast archive of restaurant reviews and knowledge.

Generally, I’m a fan of the human touch (that journalism thing again), but interested in a product’s ability to scale when it is manned by artificial intelligence. There’s so much information out there — to be able to access and analyze it super, super fast (the way a robot can), can yield interesting results and likely grow a lot faster than a team of talented curators. We’ll see how this goes.



Foursquare Can Predict Hot Restaurants

Today in Things We’ve Been Talking About For a While Now: Foursquare can make predictions about the popularity of a new restaurant. Ok! Though this is new: a couple weeks ago (sorry, missed it the first time around), Foursquare launched a feature called “Trending this week” in five US cities. The list uses check-ins and tips to name the hottest spots of the week, and refreshes every Tuesday morning. It’s a great way to find a new hotspot at home (if you’re looking to impress someone, say), or a great way to understand what’s going on in the dining scene of a place you’re visiting.



Eater awards: Tock Wins “Gamechanger of the Year”

A few years ago, even one year ago, a “gamechanger” award based on technology might have had only one or two eligible nominees to consider. But this year, a whole host of new technologies and consumer-facing products have launched and grown and become game-changers in the restaurant+tech space. Not surprising that Eater named online ticketing system Tock its Gamechanger this year — Tock is built by a restaurant team for its restaurant and grown to become a marketable product used by lots of restaurants.



  • Speaking of restaurant recommendations, here’s a new app, Dine — Tasting Table
  • SALIDO, a restaurant operating system, raises $2m in a seed round — TechCrunch
  • What’s natural food, anyway? The government asks for consumer input — NPR
  • Sustainable seafood startups: investors are biting — The Salt

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