Let me begin by saying that I am not a food blogger, so this is not a post about how to make a lovely culinary blog like my own. I am just a person who cooks and bakes often, and primarily uses links from social streams like Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter to find recipes. Thanks to these, I can find a massive selection of food blogs with recipe posts, far outdoing the selection that I can find by using Google alone (the same few sites like AllRecipes.com and Cooks.com are better indexed and always at the top of the results, unfortunately.)
Of these, I feel that Pinterest is the best choice for social recipe perusal, because the social aggregator is,
1. picture-based , so you can scroll through your results by photo, which yield higher conversion than text when it comes to food;
2. Pinterest posts link directly to the post or page of origin; and
3. Is so easy to share to by photo linking that it is a top choice of food bloggers to share their content, and therefore Pinterest’s selection of any given search result is abundant.
This being said, I feel that there could be several key improvements to the blog posts themselves in light of the fact that much of their traffic will be coming from Pinterest and other social media.
Since I am usually standing in my kitchen or at the grocery store when I’m using Pinterest to comb for recipes, I will be accessing it from a mobile device. Thankfully, Pinterest is aware of this and its mobile app has an awesome user interface, so no complaints there. However, once I click on a suitable-looking photo to link to the blog it was posted from, this is where all hell breaks loose. Most food bloggers use lots of high-quality photography to display their culinary prowess, but many take it to the next level and unfortunately it slows the load time on a mobile device to the point of abandonment. I have often been on a post, trying to scroll through forty slow-loading images so that I can simply see the recipe list to make sure I have all the ingredients before I start. Sometimes I stand there swearing and scrolling, but often I just close Pinterest’s browser and go back to its search results so that I can find a link to a different site altogether. If the recipe was posted at the top of the post under the title, I would have only had to scroll that far to find it and it would have increased my likelihood of using it.
Speaking of photography, the photos themselves should be optimized for web, and quite often, they are too big and too numerous. I personally don’t need to view ten similar photos of the same pie taken in impressively high quality, nor a separate photo of EVERY STEP of the cooking process, either. I feel that if the blogger can’t illustrate the whole recipe in 5 photos or less including the feature image, then they need to review their posting strategy.
The body copy itself is often too long. While I understand that the blogger is trying to create a community in which their voice and their style can blend with their skills to appeal to their niche audience, I am arriving to their blog from outside their niche and I simply do not care about their voice. I just want to see their spinach dip recipe because the photo on Pinterest looked tasty. I will not read the 500 words of copy introducing the week they’ve been having at the time of posting, nor how much their “hubby” loves this recipe. A short paragraph regarding the blogger’s success with the recipe and detailing any alterations made to it wouldn’t be amiss, but anything more will be scrolled past.
The comments need to be moderated to be useful. Many recipes on larger sites are only as good as their comment thread. On a site like AllRecipes, some recipes are utterly useless if you don’t read the user feedback, as often times the recipe itself is bunk, or an important substitution had to be made by a commenter to render it edible. On smaller blog sites, I have come to notice that half the comments are from the blogger’s community who are trying to show support by commenting things like “This sure looks good, can’t wait to try it”. This is no use to a casual user whatsoever. The commenter’s intention to possibly use the recipe someday is of no value to me. The blogger should reduce or remove comments of this nature, or use a vote-up type system where they can upvote more relevant comments to the top of the thread, such as “I tried this yesterday, and I had to increase the salt, but it worked perfectly”.
In conclusion, I love Pinterest and I love being able to easily connect with food bloggers and their recipes. But with such vast amounts of content available online, any food blogger trying to reach an audience through social media should optimize their posts to make them a bit more user-friendly if they want theirs to stand out from the rest.