SF Chefs 2010: The Future of Food Media
Apart from the gustatorial explorations at SF Chefs 2010, there were, as I mentioned in my last post, a myriad of demonstrations and industry seminars. You could learn everything from butchering a whole pig to the art of hospitality and fine service. I was given…
Apart from the gustatorial explorations at SF Chefs 2010, there were, as I mentioned in my last post, a myriad of demonstrations and industry seminars. You could learn everything from butchering a whole pig to the art of hospitality and fine service. I was given the wonderful opportunity to cover The Future of Food Media industry seminar for Foodbuzz.
The seminar title was fairly general, so I instinctively developed my own notions of what the discussion should cover. With clear shifts in consumer media preferences from print to online, the continued decline in magazine sales, and Gourmet Magazine’s demise in print but resurrection online and on its soon-to-be-released device application, I thought that this aspect of food media should be on the table.
And naturally, as someone who attempts to capture the beauty of food through writing and photographs on a blog, I was eager to hear opinions on this dimension of food media, and how PR firms and marketers have been harnessing this segment of their audience.
Well, perhaps next year.
The focus of the seminar was on social media, and ways those in the food industry can and should utilize social media platforms such as Facebook, Yelp, and Twitter. Admittedly, I long resisted the world of Twitter – the only reason I started a Twitter account was because of my blog, but I will be the first to concede that this platform can be extremely powerful. And fun. To me, my presence on Twitter and Facebook is an extension of my site. I was curious to learn the food industry’s perspective.
Moderated by San Francisco Chronicle Inside Scoop’s Paolo Lucchesi, the panel included Andrew Freeman (Andrew Freeman & Co.), Chef Robbie Lewis (Bon Appetit Management Co.), Ruggy Joesten (Yelp) and restaurateur Anna Weinberg (from the restaurant Marlowe).
The seminar was probably most beneficial to restaurateurs and chefs (and their PR firms) who want to find ways to hone their brand. But there were several key points that are useful to entrepreneurs or anyone involved in social media. Certainly, fellow bloggers can find the takeaways valuable, too.
Leverage the Power of Social Media
Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook allow you to (with minimal effort):
- share information immediately
- reach a specific segment of the population
- obtain feedback & gauge performance if you provide a service
- identify trends
- data mine
You must understand, I come from a background in market research, so buzzwords such as “segmentation” and “trends” set off my nerdy side. The idea of Twitter as a “free 24-hour focus group” was fascinating. I know many bloggers are very in tune with their site statistics and SEO, so these concepts are not too different. As a blogger, it is always interesting to see what readers find interesting – sometimes feedback on Twitter or Facebook surprise me. I may post a recipe on something I fear may be very mundane, only to find it become a popular post. Responses on these platforms can help me better understand what types of topics engage readers, and learn more about them, too. Granted, most of the people on my Facebook page for this blog are mostly friends, but once in a while it’s nice to take a peek at the analytics.
Be Engaging but Responsible
- Engage your audience
- Exercise discretion with postings
- Beware who is posting for you
Social media platforms are great ways to have a dialogue with an audience of like-minded people. But it’s important to consider discretion and who is actually posting. There was discussion on how the popularity of reality TV influences foodies to follow celebrity chefs for that glamorous look — or Twit Pic — of life behind the velvet ropes. And there was also a conversation about genuine dialogue, especially for known food personalities and brands. It is almost always ideal for the actual personality to post to Twitter, rather than a representative.
And it is absolutely crucial for brands to consider who they hire to manage their company’s Tweets. I couldn’t agree more. I have certainly encountered Facebook status postings for certain merchants that made me think, If the CEO of XYZ Company saw this, surely she wouldn’t be pleased!
Likewise, we “normal tweeters” should take care when posting. Needless to say, it’s not wise to drunk dial – for goodness sake, don’t Tweet in a stupor, either.
If You’ve Read This Far…
…thank you! I know this is a departure from my normal types of posts, and I apologize for the lack of pretty food pictures. It was an interesting seminar, though I would love for future conversations to go beyond social media and include other forms of online media. My sense from some comments during the seminar was that blogs are not considered legitimate forms of food media, however, it is known that those in PR and marketing are certainly harnessing blog readership. I think this is an area that should definitely be explored.