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Birds Eye pop-up restaurant treats Instagram posts as currency

Birds Eye’s new concept restaurant, The Picture House, enables customers to settle the bill by sharing Instagram pictures of their food.

Birds Eye’s initiative seeks to build the brand on social media after research found that 52 percent of diners regularly photo document their meals. The strategy is in support of a new line of products called Inspirations.

“Instagram and many other social networks have a great role in the shoppers’ path to purchase, but they are unlikely to be the commerce destination for a significant number of consumers,” said Jason Goldberg, Chicago-based vice president of strategy at Razorfish.

“People haven’t adapted to transactions on their social networks in the same way that people don’t generally want to buy jewelry from a salesman that interrupts them at their favorite bar,” he said. “There are of course niche use cases that can be successful, like buying concert tickets for a band you are discussing on Twitter.”

“Each social network has its own strengths and weaknesses as a commerce platform. Instagram is inherently visual, which can be a great strength for driving purchase intent, but it lacks the direct connection to goods for sale that something like Pinterest’s Rich Pins offer.”

Mr. Goldberg is not affiliated with Birds Eye and commented based on his expertise.

Birds Eye declined to comment.

The Igloo Group-owned brand claims The Picture House is the first of its kind, and that it rebels against the negatively perceived trend of “foodstagramming,” which has been deemed a distraction.

Fish Chargrills and Chicken Inspirations were two of the many dinner options available at the concept bistro.

The restaurant is part of a new campaign to roll out Birds Eye’s Inspirations range, a line of products being marketed as premium evening meals via TV, digital, POS and a three month sampling spree.

Diners who tagged Instagram posts of their meals with #BirdsEyeInspirations had their bill waived.

The activity was generated around the company’s insight that 52 percent of individuals habitually photograph their meals, 11 percent snap pictures at least once a week, with 9 percent confessing a compulsion to photograph at least one meal a day.

The pay-by-picture campaign marks Birds Eye’s latest social commerce test to measure the returns of Instagram. Links that navigate to product purchasing pages have been trialed this year, coupled with stronger ecommerce efforts with grocers.

“With regards to Instagram’s potential in genuine social commerce, Pinterest could be a more appropriate comparison,” said Mark Pinsent, social and content lead at Metia, London.

“But one failing of Instagram right now is in its inability to enabling the linking of an image or its description to anywhere else online, so even brands that might like to use their Instagram feed to drive traffic to an ecommerce Web site are hampered.

“Another current limit to Instagram is the inability for users to share other people’s images through re-posting,” he said. “Clearly, that limits the viral potential of content spreading across the platform which again would restrict the potential return on the investment needed by brands.”

Social advertisement
Birds Eye is not the first brand to use Instagram as a lure.

A Kellogg’s freestanding store in Stockholm last year had a similar premise, giving away a free box of its upgraded Special K cereal to anyone who snapped a picture with the tag #newspecialk and displayed it to a cashier upon check out.

In 2012, New York City’s Latin-American restaurant Comodo capitalized on the Instagram trend by embracing the hashtag #ComodoMenu and stamping it on the footer of its tactile menu, encouraging guests to add share, and become inspired by the establishment’s delicacies.

Implementing what it called the “Instagram menu,” Comodo directed patrons to pictures of menu items posted on Instagram to help them decide what to order.

Social commerce
Facebook and Twitter have become great venues for brands and small businesses to advertise. While social gift-giving has seen some traction thanks to Facebook, social commerce lags behind.

Solutions orientated companies such as Chirpify are attempting to simplify in-stream purchases on Twitter.

While the platform has not seen growing adoption rates, there is potential in the ability to pay for items using keywords or hashtags.

Chirpify, allows users to make purchases from brands and celebrities such as Adidas, Green Day, the Portland Trailblazers and Snoop Dogg by replying to a tweet or comment on Facebook or Instagram with “buy,” “donate” or “gimme.”

Gaining sales from social footprints, social commerce undoubtedly preys on the impulse shopper.

“Marketing goods and services to audiences on social networks is here to stay,” Razorfish’s Mr. Goldberg said. “Using data from the user’s social graph to provide social proof and improve shopping experiences on commerce sites and apps is tainting momentum. But actually conducting transactions for goods on the social networks is likely to remain a niche activity.”

Final Take:
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York