RMagazine had the pleasure to sit down and pick the mind of Elie Ayrouth, the founder of Foodbeast, the “TMZ of food news.”  He has his head down working on making Foodbeast the go-to-place for all food news for the millennial audience.  Continue reading as he shares his secret behind Foodbeast’s social media success and provides valuable pointers for restaurants.

RM: Can you please provide our readers a little bit of information about yourself?

Elie: I’m Elie Ayrouth, 26 years old, born and raised in Orange County to two weirdly loving Lebanese parents.

RM: Please tell me a little about Foodbeast. How did the idea of Foodbeast come about?

Elie: The idea originated during my second year of college (back in 2008). Some of my dorm mates were “foodies,” and we’d often find ourselves in the respective food halls on campus trying to eat more than we should have. I documented a few of their adventures in photo form, one in particular was my friend eating 30+ sloppy joes until he inevitably [vomited] all over the walls. The guy was a “Foodbeast,” but I knew that there were crazy food stories like this all over the world and I wanted a place to cover it.

RM: What is the idea behind Foodbeast? What are you guys trying to achieve?

Elie: We are the food news source. For the public, Foodbeast is your lens for anything new, interesting or trending in food. For the industry, we are a creative, strategic and media agency for food and drink brands.

Foodbeast's Social Media Success Foodbeast's Social Media Success

RM: What are some future plans or projects Foodbeast has in store?

Elie: Way more video content, both on the web, television and all the mediums in between. It’s one of the most fun and engaging ways we get to differentiate from some of the old-hat food video content most people are accustomed to.

RM: I noticed you guys have an enormous following on each social media platform.  You have over 259,000 Facebook likes, 101,000 Instagram followers 32,500 Twitter followers, and 101,000 YouTube subscribers.  Do you mind sharing some tips on how you guys achieved such success?

Elie: Finding a voice and sticking to it. Eventually, if your voice is sharp and consistent enough, and collaborate with the right people, you start growing. We’d often hear from other foodies that we spoke too casually or too obscene to gain an audience. Well, we stuck to our guns and now we have a [load] of awesome people in our social media family.

RM: Do you have any pointers for restaurant operators and managers to become more successful on social media?

Elie: Do more of it. The feedback we get from operators who use social media is that when they’re active on social they see a direct correlation to success in their stores. Also, social media is not hard.   Have more faith in yourself, spend a few minutes learning how easy it is to use Instagram, and do it. Some of the biggest social success stories in our local market (Orange County + Los Angeles) run their own social and do very well at it.   Social Media is about being personal and if whoever is running your social doesn’t keep that in mind, bye-byeee.

Foodbeast's Social Media Success

RM: I have looked through Foodbeast’s Instagram.  I must say the pictures are all stunning. What thoughts go into taking the perfect picture of your food?

Elie: Why thank you! When the shots are “beautiful,” they’re likely coming from Peter Pham (@pham_bot), Geoffrey Kutnick (@geoffkutnick) or Marc Kharrat (@marckharrat). They all have a very distinct photo style all their own. Peter and Marc will hate this, but I’m not a huge fan of plating food. I like holding it up with my hand and squeezing certain foods to give me the gorey consistency. I like food that has bites taken out of it as well, makes it more real.

Foodbeast's Social Media Success

RM: I know you guys also do some consulting for restaurants.  How important would say social media and in essence food pictures are to increasing traffic to a restaurant?

Elie: Absolute must. Would you start a clothing brand and not take pictures of your clothing? Or put your clothes on models so they can see the fit? Share your work with the world, and share it often.

RM: Do you have any advice to give to restaurants out there that are trying to take pictures to promote their restaurant?

Elie: It’s easier than it looks. You don’t have to pour money into a professional photographer when your budget is tight. Just whip out your iPhone, make sure you’re focused and the lighting is right and snap away.  @foodbeast shares quality images all the time, take some cues from the images with the most likes.

RM: Where would you say the bulk of your audience comes from? (Instagram, Facebook, blog, etc.)

Elie: Facebook has been really favorable for us. As news starts to trend, especially when we announce it (Taco Bell’s Captain Crunch Donut Holes or 7-Eleven’s Bring Your Own Cup Day) Facebook’s trending stories have been some of our greatest sources of traffic ever.

RM: How do you think Foodbeast can help restaurants around the nation?

Elie: When it’s a major chain, we can help shape conversation. Some of the most fun campaigns we get the honor of leading are ones where there needs to be a perception change.  For the mom-and-pop and smaller operations, sometimes it’s just small changes to a menu to make it more understandable, or highlighting certain items.

Foodbeast's Social Media Success

RM: How much of an impact do you think Foodbeast can have on a restaurant’s traffic?

Elie: If you have a great product or concept, our audience is amazing and will catapult it to the moon. Ask our friends at Afters Ice Cream with their groundbreaking Milky Bun.  They had a great product and a great team to run with the success, and now they’ve gone from 1 shop to 3+ locations in under a year.  But for every story like Afters, there are 50 other concepts that fall flat, whether we talk about them or not.

Foodbeast's Social Media Success

Image of a Milky Bun from Afters Ice Cream taken by Foodbeast

RM: What’s the best part of the next thing you’re doing?

Elie: I’m excited about our story telling. Expect to see more video and editorial, weekly, about parts of food, beverage and travel that you never thought would get coverage. For example, this week we’re launching a video about foodies.  You’re gonna want to watch that.

RM: What are the things you’re most proud of about Foodbeast?

Elie: I’m proud of a small team of eight people doing the work it takes other companies 100s to do.

RM: What would you say is the best part about doing Foodbeast?

Elie: Eating the food and meeting the people we get to meet.

RM: Where’s your favorite place to take an out-of-town guest?

Elie: In-N-Out.

RM: Are you more inclined to “build your own empire” or unleash the potential of others?

Elie: The only way to build an empire is to unleash the potential of others.

The main takeaway is social media remains an integral component to growing your restaurant operation.  Take as many pictures of the food served in your restaurant as possible. The idea is to have your picture capture and leave a “taste” in the viewer’s mouth of your food photo.  Your photos should entice the social media goers to come check out your restaurant.  Basically, you want your photos to become “food porn”.  As Elie stated, there is no need for fancy expensive equipment to take beautiful pictures.  Just snap it with your phone and share it with the world.

Visit www.foodbeast.com for inquiries and additional information.