By: Adrianna Michell
The growing food scene in Hamilton demands to be documented. With the influx of chefs and restaurateurs making the city their new home, foodies have followed in line to lend their voice.
Instagram has become the preferred platform to share dining experiences and exciting innovations taking place from King Street East to West. Whether it’s cookie dough on in ice cream cone or one of Hamilton’s many coffee shop masterpieces, the @tasteofhamilton duo Jenn Leeming and Brittany Dinallo have archived the best of what the city has to offer, or as they put it, the most “drool-worthy”.
Launched in 2015, Taste of Hamilton has since built a community of 17,000 followers. They often feature their followers on the page and invite fans of their account to collaborate in exploring the city’s culinary culture.
For someone hoping to build a successful Instagram page or social media network, Dinallo offers some insight into what is necessary to cultivate a foodie community.
“We like to involve people from the community and the [pictures] that they’ve taken, and give them a little bit of the spotlight as well,” said Dinallo.
Including followers in the creation of the feed can also help to foster deeper engagement with followers. Taste of Hamilton sources photos that users have tagged with their own #tasteofhamilton hashtag. This works well when covering new, trending restaurants that followers of other accounts may start searching for.
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Collaboration with followers is vital to generate growth, Dinallo says. “If it’s just me showing you… at a point [you ask], how deep can the engagement really go beyond just maybe… a comment. But the second you actually have people thinking of you when they’re sitting down at a restaurant to eat, I think that’s when you’ve actually proven [you have]a deeper meaning, and a deeper value… with your fans.”
Dinallo also suggests being strategic in the use of new features on the app, like stories or Instagram’s newly released gallery feature. For a feature to be useful, it needs to add value to the experience of the viewer, which Taste of Hamilton has seen with their use of stories. Instead of a single, static image, the account has used stories bring followers into the dining experience virtually.
Taste of Hamilton has been working on creating a website where they can further connect with Hamilton’s foodie community. To them, using a website as a destination for those interested content posted on Instagram allows for more information, and an opportunity to explore an event or idea in greater detail.
Students who want to create a platform may find the needed time investment daunting, but the Taste of Hamilton team manage to balance full-time jobs and keeping their Instagram up to date. They credit their ability to balance their heavy workload to their cooperation and time management skills.
“[You] just have to have a good partner,” Dinallo says. “You really need the discipline… that career-drive to kind of keep it going. Otherwise it can become a hobby, and then it can become a fad, and then it can go away.”
As the Hamilton culinary community continues to expand, more Instagram accounts and other media platforms will be able to carve out their space in foodie conversations; however, Dinallo suggests finding a unique take on what may become an over-saturated foodie scene.
“To be the second to market isn’t always necessarily the best strategy… But, if you can find a unique angle and a different way in that adds value that no one else is doing or someone else isn’t really doing well, then you can carve out your own territory.”