A sure shot recipe for social success is to talk food. A whopping 25 per cent of posts on social networks are on food, drinks, cooking and nutrition. On Instagram #foodporn is one of the most trending hashtags. Whole communities have come up on Facebook to exchange recipes and food tips.
So is it any surprise that standalone food-based social networks are cooking up a storm? Food Talk India, a digital food community with 400,000 users, has just attracted seed funding to the tune of half a million dollars from a private investor. Set up in 2013, Food Talk India, which dishes out engaging content on Facebook, Viber, Twitter and Instagram, is now using the funding to launch its own hyper local dish discovery mobile app - Food Talk Plus.
But the big news is the reboot last week of Allrecipes.com - a Seattle-based website where people submit and find recipes. The site, which boasts 1.3 billion annuals visits and calls itself the world's biggest online food community with a presence in 24 countries (including India), is now reinventing itself as a food centric social network. In its new avatar, Allrecipes, which was acquired from Readers Digest by publisher Meredith that brings out magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, will allow users to follow other home works, interact with each other and celebrate the making of a great dish with a special button. It will also have personalised "cooking graphs".
Analysts feel that Allrecipes' reboot signals the growing confluence of search and social. People often stumble into the site looking for ingredients and inspiration but usually stay on. Now with its reincarnation as a social site, it can weave in better engagement. For instance, as users build their profiles on the site and share their food preferences (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and so on) it can allow nearby grocery sites to deliver targeted ads.
Of course, Allrecipes, which, believe it or not, started life as a cookies recipes site, has a lot of competition from a host of social food networks. For instance, there is Food52, a content and commerce destination for home cooks, started by Amanda Hesser, a former food editor of New York Times Magazine and Merrill Stubbs, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef. Not only does the site bring home cooks together, but also allows them to shop for ingredients, tableware and much more.
This is just the taste of things to come if a study by Sopexa is anything to go by. The study, which polled foodies (defined as consumers who look up food content online) in six countries - the US, Germany, France, the UK, Japan and China - found that for 86 per cent of them Internet was their top resource for food information.
Dial M for Support
If Apple has Siri, and Amazon has Echo, can Facebook be left far behind? The world's largest social network has unveiled M, a virtual assistant built into its Messenger app that will find any information you seek. Powered by artificial intelligence, it's trained and supervised by people - a sort of hybrid virtual assistant. You can ask it to do almost anything - be it order some exotic drink, or throw a dinner party or deal with some services company. M is a rather cheery assistant by the way - it comes preloaded with jokes and inspirational quotes.
For over three months now, Twitter has been searching a new CEO to replace Dick Costolo, who stepped down in June. A little birdie suggests that Twitter's search firm, Spencer Stuart, has reached out to Padmasree Warrior, former Cisco Systems executive, and CBS Interactive's Jim Lanzone. Others are propping up internal candidates such as Adam Bain, Twitter's revenue chief. So far Jim Dorsey, Twitter's co-founder, has been temporarily filling in as CEO but he also heads Square, the mobile payments firm which also he founded. Twitter needs to act fast as its valuation is dropping in the face of employee defections and static user growth.