The first local Instagram viral sensation of 2017 swept Vancouver just the other week as a couple local Instagram influencers had their photos liked by thousands of people across the globe. As a food business, it’s important to learn about why this happened and how you can position future promotions and social media campaigns to position yourself as the next viral hit.
The Bubble Tea Shop on Robson (@thebbtshop) was the first business to implement this in Canada and with the help of Tangoo Influencers Tiffaney (@bitesofvncvr) and Sammy & Christina of@DinenFlash, it went viral. @Grubzon out of New York and Mumbai picked up on the photos and shared it with a 200,000+ global audience!
Here at Tangoo HQ, we love our bubble tea. There is one downside to getting it – you can only have one flavour! This dilemma was recently solved with the invention of the duo-cup (pictured above). Simple but brilliant, this cup lets you try two flavours at once.
How did the photo go viral?
Ivanna Chan, owner at The Bubble Tea Shop believes the success stems from being the first Canadian business to introduce the cups. Colourful, playful and bright, they have a new adjective – “Instagrammable”. “To be honest, I didn’t expect all the feedback that it generated. We promoted it on Facebook a little bit more by boosting the post, but once the viral Instagram posts went up, people kept on tagging one another and it just didn’t end.”
Tiffaney, the mastermind behind @bitesofvncvr expands upon what unique elements helped the concept go viral.
“My best guess on how the photo went viral would be the interest that people had on these duo cups. Because they are not available everywhere in the world yet, there was more intrigue. Along with that, I feel that it is because of lucky timing. I may have possibly posted at a time where everyone happened to be on Instagram scrolling through their news feed and they came across this picture. With so many comments coming in every few second, I wasn’t able to keep up with what everyone was saying. However, from the few comments that I managed to glance at, I noticed that people from different places were constantly tagging their friends. I think this may have contributed to why the photo went viral as the photo was shared to many people in many different parts of the world.”
Sammy, who co-runs @dinenflash with her friend Christina, had similar things to say except she added the fact that a lot of people who liked and commented on her photo seemed to reside mainly in Hong Kong and Calgary. She happens to have family in both places and she believes that their initial engagement with the post triggered Instagram to recommend the post to some of her family’s local followers and thus, it spread like wildfire. This touches on an important point.
There were various other photos of the bubble tea before these posts that did not go viral – what were the Tangoo influencers doing differently?
Tiffaney (@bitesofvncvr) says, “on a daily basis, I go through Instagram commenting on other food bloggers’ pictures as well as responding to comments on pictures that I’ve posted. I am also part of support groups on Instagram, which allows me to meet and connect with food bloggers from different parts of the world like Singapore, Boston, Sydney, California, London, and many more! With the connections I make with different foodies from around the world, their comments and likes on my photo may have helped attract attention to it, causing the picture to go viral.”
Sammy (@dinenflash) supplements the above by shedding light on how much effort she puts on the caption and ensures that it tells a compelling story and also gives her honest opinion to educate people about the different elements of the business such as their food, service, and atmosphere.
What can other food businesses learn to help their concepts go viral?
“They have to come up with a product that is unique and different that represents their company and not just copy it and hope for the same success.” says Chan. Social media is a means to get it out there. In the end, it’s about believing in what yourself can create and put it out there for the world to see.”
When asked what kinds of advertising The Bubble Tea Shop does, Chan pointed out that nowadays, it’s all social media.
“Surprisingly, we do not do any other types of advertising except for Instagram and Facebook. We are in that era where social media is everything, and everyone is about liking or tagging one another. That is why one of our main goals is to make our products not only taste good but to look good as well so that the customer is proud to share it online.
When asked the same question, both Tiffaney and Sammy were quick to answer on how they think businesses can step their games up.
“I think that restaurants and food or drink businesses can benefit by connecting more with their followers on Instagram” says Tiffaney. By connecting with their followers, they can find out what their interests are and get inspiration to create new products in the future. For myself, I find that when businesses promote new items, I get very excited to try them. I think that by promoting new items that are intriguing to people, these businesses may be able to make their stories go viral on Instagram, just like with the duo cup.”
Sammy points out more technical aspects such as photos looking amazing (no exceptions!) and them working hard on growing their followers and the engagement on their posts since people are far more likely to pay attention to something that has the social proof of others as a popular place or trending photo. Storytelling is a crucial aspect as well as she believes many places hold back from talking about the inspiration behind a new dish simply because they are too busy, or perhaps don’t think people care. They do!
As 2017 is in full swing, proprietors need to ensure their creativity, customer service, and menu quality is reflected online. It’s easier than ever for customers to become advocates as the food critic world becomes democratized by everyday people who have a refined palate, a passion for dining out, and most importantly, they don’t take themselves too seriously!
Take your online brand seriously and take us up on a free social media report card to see what elements you can improve on so that your next menu launch strikes Instagram gold.