When it comes to Instagram, everyone wants to earn the most likes possible. Instagram stories don't get likes in the same way as posts do, but they can start conversations through reposts and shares. For the past couple of weeks, Houston's savviest, food-obsessed Instagrammers have been playing a game on their stories by using bingo cards to compare notes on places they've been.
Social media influencer Julie Nong (better known as Julie Julez) created the bingo cards as a way to stand out and get people excited about different types of food and restaurants in Houston. Nong is a food blogger who also freelances in graphic design and social media. She describes her Instagram as a meeting place for everything she likes to do while simultaneously showcasing her fun and unconventional side.
By combining her knowledge and social media skills with a little work in design, Nong has gained attention for her innovative Houston restaurant bingo cards she puts on her Instagram story. Each card focuses on a different “food group” of Houston restaurants. Twenty-four Houston spots are featured on each template; her followers have the chance to take a screenshot of the card, cross out the places they’ve visited, and then share it to their story.
“I would see these templates on Instagram for things like travel where you cross off any place that you’ve visited and I just randomly thought, what if I made a Houston one?” Nong tells CultureMap.
Nong’s first template featured restaurants in Houston’s Chinatown. She’s gone on to make cards for Chinatown desserts, tea and tapioca spots, noodle restaurants, coffee shops, crawfish and seafood restaurants, and taco joints. The templates can be found on her Instagram profile under the “BINGO” highlight.
In order to determine which places to include on her cards, Nong frequents Google, Yelp, Facebook food groups, and other websites that list different restaurants in Houston. From there, she picks spots that either have the highest ratings or the most reviews. She says that she also tries to find places that are more low-key and lesser-known in order to provide some variety and eliminate predictability in her templates.
Nong challenges her followers by providing places they might not have visited before and encouraging them to try new things. But in her attempt to provide a variety of restaurants, Nong does receive the occasional complaint.
“Houston’s really big, and I only have 24 spots, so I can’t put everything on there,” she says. “I mean, I’m spending hours of my time making these, so people can’t really get mad at me for providing these for free.” Within the first day of its creation, dozens of users had tagged Nong on their stories. The cards have been viewed thousands of times and played by hundreds of people.
The cards are both a checklist for people who want to dive deeper into a specific type of restaurant and offer bragging right for people to demonstrate their expertise in specific genres. Nong’s visually appealing and entertaining templates offer users a new way to share and learn about new restaurants — something that is welcomed in an increasingly digitized world.
More cards are coming. Nong has received numerous requests for a Houston barbecue template, but she is looking to broaden her horizons. “I might turn that one into a Texas card, which will be harder, but I don’t want to just keep doing Houston cards,” she says. “I do plan to tackle other cities. I’ve had requests to do New York and LA. I also want to start doing non-food ones and get into more experiences. I don’t wanna go too deep into it, y’know, but it’s coming.”