Instagram has been gaining massive popularity in the past decade, especially when it comes to food blogging. As of June 2018, 1 billion people use Instagram and according to The Washington Post, a Maru/Matchbox study found that 69 percent of millennials take a picture or a video of their food before eating. As the trend for food blogging on Instagram has skyrocketed, millennial food culture has undergone major changes.

 

Instagram has been discriminatory with certain foods, particularly colorfully saturated snacks. Users can choose to follow channels like @foodys and @foodporndaily1 to get their dose of saturated, sinful bites that might look too good to be true. Despite these irresistible-looking treats, a subgroup of food lovers has become increasingly dissatisfied with the quality and taste of these items. A glittery, pink and purple Starbucks drink labeled the “Unicorn Frappuccino” went viral on Instagram during its limited period in April of 2017. Despite the drink’s aesthetic appeal, Chris Riotta, a reviewer at Newsweek wrote, “To be clear, this is the worst drink I have ever purchased in my life.” In 2014, New York Times food critic Pete Wells coined the term “camera cuisine,” referring to expensive restaurants drawing customers from their picturesque dishes. Wells noted that the rise in plating aesthetics appeared to be intrinsically connected with a decline in taste, finding that camera cuisine’s “purest form…is both exquisitely photogenic and peculiarly bland and lifeless.”

 

On the other end of the spectrum, healthy eating has made a huge wave in the online social media community. According to The Guardian, chia seeds, grains, cactus water and more all emerged as top food trends of 2016. Interestingly, social media has also helped eaters be accountable for their diets. Interviewees who kept track of what they ate for a University of Washington research paper found that Instagram helped them stick to their own tracking and healthy eating goals, made them more honest about their eating habits and allowed followers to show support.

 

Restaurants recognizing the potential nascent advertising benefits of Instagram have gone to great lengths to keep up with the social buzz. The owner of Grind, a London café-bar chain, has spent the last five years trying to make his entire company more “Instagrammable” and as culture savvy as possible. In 2016, Grind replaced every table in the company with white marble to improve customers’ Instagram pictures.

 

Restaurant tactics appear to run the gamut in order to please their photography-oriented customers, and there is evidence of their financial success. The one-day Square Shake campaign by Sonic increased their follower base by 11,000 users. Starbucks, a marketing giant on Instagram, has averages over 200,000 likes on each post according to a study conducted by JMIR Public Health and Surveillance. With the release of the Unicorn Frappuccino, global same-store sales increased by three percent for the second quarter.

 

Other businesses, however, dislike the idea of catering to Instagramming millennials. James Lowe, head chef and owner of Lyle’s in London has noted that this photogenic food culture has led to chefs “cooking for pictures”–putting a dish together without concern for taste and focusing exclusively on aesthetic. Japanese deli Auradaz in Leamington Spa has banned diners from using their mobile phones in his restaurant, citing that eating is a social experience and not one to be saturated with social media.

 

The rise in Instagramming food altered business strategy has changed consumer behavior. The Waitrose survey states that nearly 40 percent of consumers worry more about presentation compared to five years ago. According to research by Zizzi, the average 18-35-year-old spends five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30 percent would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram presence was weak.

 

In the future, restaurants can expect to see a spike in millennials willing to expand their palate and try more adventurous foods. With the rise of both sugary foods and healthy eats, polarization in diets among the millennial population may be on the horizon. Restaurants who do not take advantage of the growing social media platform may risk a decline in younger customers. Meanwhile, hearty foods with less visual appeal could disappear depending on whether epicures and food critics grow in number. Instagram has undoubtedly revolutionized the types of food we eat, the restaurants and vendors who sell them and food culture as a whole.

 

The 21st century has seen the near disappearance of traditional maps. The booming age of technology brought about GPS systems, which changed travel forever. Companies like Garmin and TomTom dominated the market in the early 2000s. These systems, however, have faltered due to the introduction of GPS into smartphones. Why buy a Garmin when your iPhone has built in map systems and millions of applications at your disposal. Waze, a community based traffic and navigation app, was founded in 2007, and has capitalized on this new age of navigation and mobile apps. Constructed with a straightforward business plan, its success was enough to attract a $1.3 billion buyout from Google in 2013.

Waze has become the most popular community based navigation application because of its social media aspect. In the new sharing economy where social media is paramount, there is a high premium on group connection. Waze brilliantly incorporates this aspect as its whole model relies on users sharing and providing information for other users. The interactive component of the app engages the users while they are driving and allows for up to date and accurate data. This naturally incentivizes others to download and utilize Waze. The app rewards users by participating; a simple but smart idea that has lead to its high download rates.

Here is how the application works; it crowd sources its information from the users, which allows for the most up to date information. The software then automatically factors these updates into its directional advice. Waze gives its users the fastest route available, which is highly appreciated in this day and age.

Apart from providing the most up to date travel information, Waze owes much of its accomplishments to its social media component. The app uniquely connects everyone on the road into one mobile application platform. It is simple yet powerful. When people know that they are contributing to others experience and that others are contributing to theirs, they feel empowered. There are no limitations on this applications’ value, as it becomes more useful with more suppliers. Waze has helped users in disastrous situations like Hurricane Sandy, when Waze was able to alert survivors of open gas stations. This further demonstrates the potential of Waze’s concept.

Waze, while unprofitable for its first few years of existence, has since adopted a location based advertising platform. According to CEO Noam Bardin, within the mobile app’s first years, the key is to expand the user base and prove the concept. Waze successfully implemented that strategy and now is able to profit. The location based advertising platform means that Waze promotes businesses on the app that are within a certain proximity to the user. Waze can recommend gas stations, restaurants and even hotels as the user drives by them. Advertisers and businesses see this is a very economical way to invest their money. With over 50 million users, advertisers can be confident in knowing that their businesses will be promoted. Additionally, Waze does not use banners on their mobile app, which is a huge draw for advertisers. Banners are burdensome for users, and Waze skillfully integrates advertising so that the user is not distracted. While the revenues from advertisements are not high, they will continue to grow as Waze gains more popularity. The genius behind Waze is the technology and the idea, which is something Google obviously values as they spent over $1 billion to acquire the company.

Waze has recently improved the integration of advertisements. Now, businesses such as restaurants and coffee shops pop up at the top of the screen and give the time to that destination as well as an easy reroute option to give directions to the new destination. Waze also now allows for unique ad targeting based on driving conditions such as weather, type of destination or weather. For example, if Waze knows you are headed to beach in a warm climate, it might advertise ice cream shops. Waze has a successful advertising model, however the company must continue to show potential advertisers that Waze will assist their businesses. It can do test studies to see how much more likely Waze users are to frequent a business that is advertised on the app. Additionally, Waze could create a new component to the app to increase advertisements. The idea is that before the course is given, a list of businesses, within a mile of any point of the route, are presented so that the user can select one before he or she even begins the drive. This way, the user isn’t alerted of advertisements just minutes before passing by. This is an easy function to include in the app that would make advertising on Waze more attractive.

Waze is just one of the latest examples of a social media application to gain recognition on a national stage. In the current digital age, innovative companies have the potential to succeed at high levels. Waze is poised to maintain its level of success in the foreseeable future if it sticks to its core ideas of simplicity, efficiency and customer satisfaction.