The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: Recipe Videos

Recipe videos are EVERYWHERE, and we love them. Well, I know I do (guilty pleasure confession).

These videos aren’t just meant to be posted by chefs and DIYers for appetizer ideas. A recipe or cooking video posted to social media is a great way to advertise your food product or restaurant. They can provide easy-to-use, delicious looking recipe ideas that incorporate or use your product. This, of course, will drive your clients to buy, buy, buy. For restaurants, an inside look at one of those mouth-watering dishes will drive in new business. The downside, though, is that these videos can go so wrong so quickly, ending in a low click rate and a diminished brand affinity.  

So, what do foodies want to watch? Here are some tips for making your video a success:

Keep it short and simple.

No one wants to sit on Facebook and watch you cook an entire meal in real time. Editing your video down to a minute or less is the way to go. Cut out all of the boring in-betweens and just show the main steps of the recipe. Buzzfeed’s Tasty has perfected this.  

Go to the light.

Good lighting is crucial. Even if you’re shooting with an iPhone, lighting will go a long way. Natural light is your best friend but not always available, so set up some equipment or do some rigging to light it up. Your recipe video won’t be enticing if your food is hiding in the shadows.

Shoot anything and everything.

Angles, angles and more angles. Shoot all the angles! Close up. Overhead. Shoot more than you think you will need, and be sure to get all of the minimal things like slicing the onions, powdered sugar falling, the sizzle of the steak hitting the pan or honey pouring into a measuring cup. (Anyone else getting hungry?) Also, grab some static shots of the ingredients and utensils. Later on when you’re editing, pepper those snippets in to spice things up.

Create some seduction, aka food porn.

“Food porn is defined in part by the senses, that it is a visual experience of something that other people can smell and taste. Food porn is anything that makes me drool—something that, at its best, should manufacture a desire that it can’t satisfy.” – Amanda Simpson, the creator of the site Food Porn Daily

A desire that can’t be satisfied until your product is purchased! Don’t be afraid to look at your recipe video through a sensual perspective. Slowing parts down, speeding parts up, etc.

Text or voiceover? Or neither?

For advertising purposes, you don’t necessarily need to vocalize or show text explaining ingredient measurements or recipe steps. You could just add some music and let the recipe visuals do the talking. Another option would be to use a voiceover of product or brand-relevant information. Or you can link to the full recipe on your website since getting people to your site is optimal. If you do add text, get creative with it! Make sure it blends in seamlessly and appropriately. Keep it super short. You don’t want your audience struggling to read a paragraph before you skip to the next frame.

Lastly, here are some additional common sense tips for recipe videos:

  • Use clean, nice utensils, pot and pans.
  • Edit out all unsanitary bits. No nose picking!
  • Name your recipe something unique or at least catchy.
  • Always link to your website.
  • It never hurts to flash a logo at the beginning or end.
  • Optimize! Take care of your video’s metadata and thumbnail (preferably a close-up of your final dish).

Happy videoing, selling and (most importantly) eating!


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