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To Be or Not To Be a Food Influencer

It's the food we all are after 24/7. Because it indeed plays an important role in our lives. Apart from being our basic necessity, it provides comfort, brings us together, unlocks new experiences, and has the power to send us miles away into childhood memories with just one bite. And for me? I can certainly say that food has touched my life in every possible way. Growing up, I thought only chefs and food critics could shape their lives around this passion. But it's not like that anymore, social media has made it so easy to dive into the food culture and share it with others. 

Today, you find hundreds of thousands of influencers (typically found on Instagram), spread along a wide range of niches, celebrity status, and follower sizes. Among them are the Food Influencers which is our concern here. An influencer is a creator that uses their content to reach and engage with their followers. A food influencer, Specifically, centres their content around any subject concerning food. They are seen as an important asset to marketers looking to captivate a certain community.

So, Let's dive in and see what is it really like to be a food influencer? This article highlights a few of the things that I've learned through the experiences I've had running a foodstagram. 

A Passion That Drives

I started my foodstagram, @vvaleedkhan, about 7 years ago as a fun way to share my passion for food; share pictures, comments or reviews about the food I ate. My friends and Instagrammers started to like it. Today, I still make sure to keep it as an enjoyable pastime rather than something I stress out about. I know I do not come in an influencer category or have a famous account or large following base. And when it comes to passion, then these are mere numbers for them. I don’t worry about followers because being yourself is more important than worrying about a high number at the top of your profile. If I didn't enjoy something I ate then there's no reason for me to suggest it to others.

Make New Foodie Friends

One of the coolest parts about being a food blogger or influencer is that you get to know many other people who have the same love for food. And they really become friends in no time as food is the common interest. I have made many friends online just because they were also foodies and share the same hobby. 

Business Exchanges

Another big thing for which people often start food blogging is being invited to exclusive events and openings. Food bloggers' communities in your city or state usually post about it. You can find such communities in your circle who will post about such activities or events often on Instagram. Another way to join these is through PR agencies who try to bring bloggers together and help them connect with restaurants and brands. Here is one for Pakistan who is constantly building up its Food Influencers team. 

Just a couple of weeks ago, My brother who also is a food influencer, was invited by a friend to go to a food festival in IMSciences Peshawar to try some menu items of a cafe that sponsored them and talk about them on Instagram. It's a great opportunity to get to know the people that have put all of their energy, love, and pride into a restaurant and hear about their experiences. I also love getting to meet other food influencers like me. Sometimes I find it funny because we introduce ourselves as our usernames before we say our actual names; it’s great to connect faces to accounts that we’ve been following for ages!

It's not all about the free food

Almost all the time, restaurants and brands are paying you through their products in exchange for coverage on your social media. Sometimes they'll have certain requirements such as tagging them in all posts, sharing highlight stories, or a minimum amount of posts. If a blogger doesn't go through with this commitment they may not be invited to any more events in the future.

Also, many people assume that restaurants and brands hand out their products to accounts with thousands of followers or reach out with ease but both assumptions are false! First of all, although large accounts can hold more value because they reach a wider audience, local businesses look for smaller accounts because they typically can engage more with followers. Secondly, it usually takes less time negotiating with brands to reach an agreement. Typically an influencer reaches out first and then the brand decides the terms of the exchange rather than just sending a product willy-nilly. 

Experiences for Food

An exciting part about being a food influencer is that it forces you outside of your comfort zone. I have to constantly stay up to date with the latest trends, newest restaurants, and events going on in my city or around. Mostly, I'm not alone, rather go with friends to try new food and then share it on my social channels. When you post a photo, you are sending a wave of curiosity through your followers who are looking for new places to eat and your opinionated content influences their decisions. You're probably the first to know about a lot of events and openings because restaurants may reach out to you directly or word will get around among influencer communities.  It’s also important to stay in the know because sometimes followers might ask for specific recommendations and you have to be ready to give some valuable suggestions.

Most importantly, my favourite part about being a food influencer is that it is flexible and unique for each individual. I like keeping my account fresh and there's no stress behind this hobby of mine and all of the cool events and people I have met through it. They are simply the cherries on top of a supreme sundae. :)