The Perfect Recipe For Success

Food is universal. We all love food, and it if looks good, even better. In some sense, food isn’t just food, it can be culture, traditions, fond memories, a reason to gather with friends, family, and loved ones. We all eat to live, but the thinking seems to have shifted to “living to eat.” Though many of us may have limited cooking repertoires, social media easily grants us access to thousands of unique recipes that are quick and easy enough to replicate at home.

I am scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and the next thing you know, the chicken enchilada casserole is fresh out of the oven and I’m breaking a sweat, whipping up a no-bake Pina Colada cheesecake. If you have wandered on Facebook at all in the last two years, chances are you have encountered these short, 1-minute videos of food recipes ranging from sugary treats to savory entrees and everything in between (think Cotton Candy Grape Frozen Daiquiri?!). The explosion of food content on popular channels like Tasty, Tastemade, and Tip Hero in the last year is quite simply, astonishing. BuzzFeed’s Tasty stands tall with a mammoth 71 million likes on Facebook, while Tastemade and Tip Hero have equally impressive stats with 20 million and 17 million a piece on Facebook respectively. How have these channels amassed such huge followings and why are they so popular?

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Optimized for Facebook

Channels like Tasty are tailor-made for Facebook and make effective use of the platform to drive both likes and engagement. As you are scrolling through the newsfeed, Facebook’s autoplay feature kicks in and now you’re drooling from the mouth over a video of pumpkin cinnamon rolls that you didn’t even know you wanted in the first place. It’s great. Channels like Tasty also benefit from only publishing content on Facebook, as the platform’s algorithm favors anything that keeps people on Facebook longer, rather than sending them away to another site.

Similarly, these videos are short, often around a minute or less. Quick, simple, and straight to the point videos are the right ingredients for winning over a crowd of millennials with non-existent attention spans and a willingness to procrastinate from the responsibilities of school or work. In turn, users often share these videos on their own timelines to save as a quick reference for later and share with their own friends on Facebook. Many users also tag their friends on these videos with comments like “omg this looks amazing, let’s make it this weekend”, or “This would be perfect for our Thanksgiving party”, etc. As this cycle continues, these videos quickly rack up millions of views and thousands of likes and comments. Tasty currently has a total of over 8 billion views, and counting.

In a sea of endless content overload, there is something oddly satisfying, and relaxing, about watching ingredients come together to form a beautiful dish in under a minute. It’s easy, non-committal, and a nice break from the chaos and turmoil that regularly fill our newsfeed. Andrew Gauthier, executive producer and creative director for BuzzFeed Motion Pictures says

So much of what we do on social platforms is about connecting with friends and family, making plans, documenting experiences, and sharing things we love…and food is connected to all of those things. From family dinners to date nights to brunches with friends, food is just naturally something people share, so it makes sense that people would be excited to share food videos

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Going Global

The extreme popularity of Tasty prompted executives at BuzzFeed to expand their food empire to reach other parts of the world with unique cuisines. Niche spinoffs like Proper Tasty for the U.K., Bien Tasty for Mexico, Tasty Demais for Brazil, and Tasty Japan have found great success among these global audiences.

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Brand Partnerships

How does Tasty and other similar channels make money? From the video content they produce, a select number are “made-for-advertisers” videos that Ashley McCollum, BuzzFeed Tasty Global GM, says

have a lot to offer commercially, with the format blending mobile, social, and video components to attract huge millennial audiences…Advertisers come to us for social, branded content. It’s what we do best. Tasty is a good fit for CPG food and beverage products – they are at the core of our success

Tasty has successfully partnered with brands like Nestlé, Nutella, Purina, and Triscuit, among others. Tasty has even partnered with Oster for a recipe video featuring one of their grills. That particular video was so successful that within hours, the grill had sold out on both Amazon and Target.com. Similarly, Tasty partnered with Butter Fingers for a video that ultimately drove more search results for the brand than any other marketing effort this year, including its Super Bowl ad.

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Moving Forward

Tasty continues to grow and expand, whether that is churning out new content or expanding their food empire by creating new spinoffs for different countries. Many media companies and brands themselves are following Tasty’s footsteps in sharing recipes featuring brands in a manner that is organic and accessible for users. As Tasty expands into new markets and platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, one can only wonder if Tasty will be able to maintain this success without becoming too overexposed and intrusive as many popular trends often do. Until then however, I’m going to bake some cookies.

12 comments

  1. rohansuwarna · ·

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post! I barely use Facebook, however, my favorite material to see on my Timeline are the videos by Tasty. And in the blog you mentioned how the videos autoplay on one’s Timeline, which is very important for surface-level users, like myself. The videos playing by themselves attracts me to more and more of their videos on their account. I didn’t even follow them yet, but since I see them when a friend likes the video I get so hooked I end up on their account going through all the videos. The autoplaying feature on Facebook and Twitter has helped many accounts gain popularity among users.

  2. The Tasty videos are addicting! I didn’t even realize that so many of those videos were advertising the ingredients that they use to cook these meals – but it makes so much sense. I think it actually might be more effective because the user doesn’t realize they’re the target for a big CPG brand. I wonder how much companies are willing to pay for this kind of exposure. With Tasty’s insane following, I would think these big brands are willing to pay a lot. Did you happen to come across any specifics on how much these advertisements go for?

  3. As a cooking fanatic, I love Tasty videos! It’s only recently that a lot of cooking channels like Tasty have taken over Facebook, and it really points to how much marketing has transitioned; from traditional TV ads or shows where we’d have to make the time to sit and watch, we now have access to quick but eye-catching clips on multimedia platforms where we already spend a lot of time connecting with friends and sharing other aspects of our lives. It’s fascinating that we’re so invested in watching these videos for the assumed purpose of learning the cooking recipes that we don’t realize, in hindsight, that we’re doing exactly what these videos are advertising; we’re unconsciously compelled to go out and buy these sponsored ingredients or cookware in order to follow the recipe that’s depicted.

  4. Great post. It’s been interesting to see the rise of Tasty videos over the past year or so (as well as some companies moving to copy them in ads). Just goes to show that the visual component of food is an important part of the experience.

  5. I loved this article! I love to cook and Tasty/Skinnytaste etc are all sites that I frequently look at for ideas for dinner/dessert/etc- while usually I can execute recipes, rarely can I create one on my own so these sites are perfect, especially since they are so easy! I never thought of this as a platform that is capable of making money. Your information about how these platforms make money was really interesting and completely new information. However, I wonder if its is a sustainable business model. Also, it will be interesting to see how cookbooks and that market starts to adapt with the presence of Tasty/etc.

  6. This article really identified the root of the success of Facebook. Since Facebook has made videos autoplay, Tasty has really capitalized on capturing peoples’ attentions within seconds and making it appealing within a minute. I would like to pose a couple of questions regarding Tasty: what makes Tasty the better “product”, as in how is Tasty differentiating itself? I think the 70 million likes on Facebook is a result of first mover advantage, but they cannot copyright any of their techniques or aesthetics, making it susceptible to being copied by imitations. Secondly, do you think that the recipes will get repetitive? Although the culinary world is vast, the very unique recipes will start being variations and people might get sick of that. However, I don’t necessarily see Tasty slowing down within the year and I expect it to reach new echelons of social media.

  7. gabcandelieri · ·

    I can definitely identify with this post! Tasty videos are jumping out at users from all social channels nowadays. Similar to an influencer’s aesthetic appeal on Instagram, Tasty utilizes the visual appeal of handmade dishes that are both practical to replicate and fun to watch, in order to secure lucrative brand partnerships. I agree that Facebook’s autoplay is definitely key in the Tasty video strategy, quite literally forcing viewers to pause and appreciate, or salivate, whereas stopping to press play on your newsfeed could detract from the concept’s attractiveness. This notion of instant gratification along with convenience is at the core of social media’s popularity and is arguably changing the nature of our social interactions as we know it. Therefore, it is genius of Tasty and other companies to utilize this trend toward speed. I can see Tasty videos expanding into more interactive arenas, perhaps including “buy buttons” for various products, as they continue to increase their scope.

  8. copmania12 · ·

    I have to admit this post made me really hungry. Great post, really well written! It has been cool to see the rise in popularity of Tasty, and as someone who remembers when they first started getting popular, the videography and content of the vids have become much more professionally done. Cool to think about how Tasty has influenced other sort of marketing trends, specifically on Facebook. For example, I have seen companies market their product or service by creating a short video that starts off looking like a Tasty creation video, adding various foods into a blender. Then with the addition of further, inedible objects (think: sparkles), it becomes obvious that the video is heading in a different direction. Pretty cool trend!

  9. My first experience with online recipes was when went fishing with my brother and we caught a fluke. We knew how to fish, but no idea what to do with what we had caught. In our case we went out searching for the ways to filet and ultimately cook up the fluke. Video platforms are so easy and quick to learn from that our dinner turned out great. I’m sure that could never have been the case without a visual instruction. Ever since then, I’ve grown to appreciate the power of these platforms. In our age, reading a cook book is so much less informative and helpful than seeing a quick 1 minute video on my newsfeed. I had always wondered though, how do these people who keep making instructional videos actually make money? Brand partnerships is a fascinating route that flows so naturally with the content being delivered.

  10. daniellep2153 · ·

    Thank for posting about this topic. I personally love Tasty videos. They have made food so much more approachable for foodies like myself. Especially as a student, cooking can sometimes be difficult with time and money, yet these videos provide easy recipes that anyone can follow. From a business perspective, the partnerships they’ve created not only help the business grow, but it also brings in delicious brands that our generations love. Overall, I think Tasty has a great business model, and like you said, I definitely see other companies following in their footsteps.

  11. Well, I’m obviously not alone here in my love of Tasty videos! In a world where ordering food on-demand is easier and easier through apps like Seamless and Foodler, I feel like the Tasty videos encourage us to actually get into the kitchen! A lot of my millennials have pretty minimal cooking skills as a result of small incomes and smaller kitchens. But the Tasty videos are excellent at finding new ways to combine simple ingredients that you most likely already have around the house, or can purchase at a low cost. And the step by step instructions make these delicious looking recipes look very easy to follow, unlike infamous Pinterest recipes. It’s great! For example, over the summer my friend said he’d provide something for our weekly Game of Thrones watch party. I was skeptical to say the least, but was blown away when he walked in with individual taco bites — inspired by a Tasty video he saw on Facebook. He basically used tortillas, burger meat, cheese and veggies. The only crafty step was putting them all together in cupcake tins. They. Were. Awesome. Tasty is definitely changing the name of the game when it comes to millennial dining and entertaining!

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