Is Social Media Just About Sharing Food?

By Sheldon Levine - Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 at 9:05 am  

Do you ever notice how much people talk about or share pictures of what they’re eating in social media? Is it true that “social media is just people sharing what they had for breakfast”?

Last week in my home town of Toronto I had the pleasure of “celebrating” Toronto Burger Week. The celebration consisted of over 50 burger joints throughout the city who each offered their own specialty hamburger for only $5. It was the most delicious week of 2013 so far. But I also noticed something during Burger Week; my Twitter feed, especially the lists I use to follow Toronto locals, was filling up with pictures of amazing looking burgers.

When  you start to notice things like this and have access to something like MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, you can get very curious. I decided to look at just how much people talk about hamburgers around the world through social media.

It turns out that people using social media really love hamburgers. In the past six months I found hamburgers being talked about in over 15.9 million conversations. Hamburgers were mentioned in 397,567 blog posts, 497,049 online new articles, 728,168 forum postings and an incredible 14,338,487 tweets.

Some people, thanks to the rise of fast food, picture the hamburger as being an American food. However, when I looked at where all these mentions of burgers were coming from, they spanned the globe. The United States did mention hamburgers the most, owning 34.9% of the conversation. Surprising though, is that the next two countries with the most conversations about hamburgers are Germany (20.3%) and China (13.5%).

While I always knew that people do like to share and talk about food though social media, I was actually surprised at how much. So, I decided to take my curiosity a little further.

I next decided to look up and compare how six “popular” foods are talked about through social media channels. This time, I ran a comparison to see how much people were talking about hamburgers, bacon, cupcakes, donuts, tacos and pizza. The results were actually kind of surprising.

Having spent some time on the internet myself, I assumed that bacon would for sure be the most talked about of these foods. However, it turns out that in the past six months bacon has only been mentioned in social media 15,924,671 times. Out of all the food I looked up pizza is actually talked about the most in social media around the world with 50,575,297 mentions. The second most talked food in social media was tacos, which had 22,785,371 social mentions. That’s less than half of the mentions pizza got. Hamburgers came in third place, followed by bacon, cupcakes and finally donuts.

When I looked at the mentions of these foods over time, we an see just how much pizza dominates the social media conversations. Each food seems to have it’s own spikes in popularity at certain times, like tacos large spike in conversation around the beginning of February, but none ever seem to be talked about more than pizza.

I then tried to find if some of these foods appealed more to certain demographics. I started by looking at conversations of these foods by age groups. Not surprisingly, each food was mentioned most by people who are aged 21-35. People aged 36-50 always came in second for mentions of all types of food as well. One interesting thing I noticed though was that people aged 51 or over weren’t very in to cupcakes or donuts, but they did seem to love talking about hamburgers. I also found it interesting that those 20 or under talked the least about bacon. Maybe they just need some time to mature into it.

The most interesting thing I found though during this exercise came when I looked at the gender breakdown of food talk. While everyone likes food, it turns out that women talk significantly more about food in social media than men. Especially cupcakes.

Do you ever notice your social media world being taken over by food? Do you think it’s true that “social media is only good for sharing what you had for breakfast”? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

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