Season 2 of Eat! Drink! Italy! is on Create TV!

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I’m excited to announce the second season of Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo is premiering on Create TV this week! For those who don’t know, I work closely with a television show called Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo. It’s a great program about Italy’s rich wine, food and culture shot on location with host Vic Rallo. Tune in for new episodes on Create TV or watch online at eatdrinkitaly.org. And of course visit the Eat! Drink! Italy! Blog for recipes, articles and lots of behind-the-scenes content from yours truly!

Check out the Season 2 preview below and connect with Eat! Drink! Italy! on your favorite social sites!

Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of Content Marketing

This is a bit of a #ThrowbackThursday post, but my presentation on content marketing for NJ Connect somehow never made it on the blog! Last October (which now seems like years ago) I had the pleasure of being the feature presenter at NJ Connect’s Fall Meetup! My friend and fellow social media master Allison Pryor reached out with the opportunity and the topic of content marketing for the presentation. I decided to approach it by asking who, what, when, where, why and how content marketing works today. Below you can take a look at my presentation via Prezi (be gentle, it was my first time using this service!) and feel free to give me feedback on Twitter!

Social Media Done Right: GetBusyMedia Interviews the Social Media Chef

I recently had the distinct pleasure of being interviewed by Brian Morris at GetBusyMedia about my work as the Social Media Chef. Brian is a fellow Red Bank local and frequent visitor to Basil T’s, one of the restaurants I do social media marketing for. He noticed the expansive amount of content being put into the marketing campaign for Basil’s (Facebook, video recipes, Twitter, the works) but honed in on a specific point he thought I excelled at: engagement.

We exchanged a few emails and a few days later I answered Brian’s questions to feature on GetBusyMedia. You can read the full interview below, or over at GetBusyMedia.com.

For me, it was a great opportunity to respond to some targeted, well thought out questions. My favorite was the last question:

Q. What is the best piece of advice you could give a small business regarding social media and getting more engagement with their customers?

A. Keep the “social” aspect alive in your social media. Don’t think of Twitter and Facebook as radio stations where you broadcast messages to your customers. Find which content is relevant to them by engaging in conversations and always continue to release new content on a regular basis.

The interview was also featured on SmallBizTrends.com as a case study on How To Do Social Media Right!

-The Interview-

Did your foray into social media begin as a side project and build over time or did you fully immerse Basil T’s from the beginning?

Our social media marketing campaign began around June in 2009 when I was hired on to work on Basil T’s web presence. The work was part-time at first, but by the end of the summer, we’d already had tremendous success on YouTube, Facebook, and with our email newsletter list. In the Fall, I was hired on full time to do all the online content management, and was fully immersed in blogging, producing videos and engaging customers online for Basil T’s and Undici.

Which aspect is your personal favorite?

I have a background in writing, so researching and writing content for our blogs is always a highlight for me; I really enjoyed learning and writing about Pizza Napoletana and posting on www.PizzaNJ.net. But my overall favorite has to be hearing back from customers that enjoy our online and offline content. Sometimes we’ll get emails or a YouTube comment about a customer that ate the bolognese sauce at the restaurant, and then made it at home after watching our video recipe on it. I also thoroughly enjoy having the title of Social Media Chef.

What tools do you use to track and analyze your efforts?

We use pretty much everything at our disposal to track and analyze. We monitor our reviews across several different sites daily, our web traffic using Google Analytics and Pages insight, Facebook insight, YouTube insight and several dozen Google Alerts. We try to track which content is the most effective, and learn by what gets the most attention. If our video recipes are getting more attention than our photo galleries and blog posts, we’ll shoot and edit more videos. But it all starts with keeping an eye on what you have out there.

Can you provide any key examples or statistics about how successful your efforts have been?

Our Facebook page for Basil’s quickly grew to one of the most “Liked” pages in the area; we’re nearing 1,500 Likes consisting of mostly local customers who come to our restaurant and are interested in our content. I often post links to our YouTube channel, which is nearing 11,000 upload views and post the videos to our Facebook page. And in the video descriptions on YouTube, there’s a link to our Facebook page; by cross promoting and linking everything, when one of our platforms grows, they all grow.

How much time each week or day is spent on your social media campaign?

I work a 40-50 hour week, and most of my time is spent doing something related to social media for the two restaurants. It sounds like a lot, but between filming videos, editing them, tagging/posting them, writing blog posts, responding to posts and emails from customers, and putting together our monthly newsletters, you can see where the time goes. The email newsletters aren’t exactly what you would consider “social media,” but all the content that is made for it is distributed through our social networks too.

How well do you think the restaurant business and emerging media tie together?

When someone wants to find a place to eat, they will look online. It’s important that we have a good presence online, and are active in the places people look online, whether this be Yelp, Twitter or Facebook. After someone has been to your restaurant and they want to come back or make a comment on their experience, new media is the best tool to engage them, keep the conversation going and get them to share their best experiences with the public.


Do you see a definite ROI on your campaign and how long into the process could you see it?

Absolutely. We could really see how effective our campaigns were after the first few months during the summer, and then again after I was hired on full time and more resources we re-allocated from traditional marketing (print ads, radio, etc.) into new media.

Do you use things such as your Facebook fan page and twitter account to interact with customers and receive feedback?

Yes. We regularly post specials and events to inform our customers of what’s going on. The main way we communicate with customers is through email marketing, but posting and starting conversations through Facebook and Twitter allows for a greater level of communication. If someone had a great meal and posts about it on our Facebook wall, I can respond and include follow-up content such as a special or video relevant to that customer. And while this can also happen through email, Facebook and Twitter are more casual, so people are more likely to start conversations on these platforms. Plus, the conversations that we do engage in on these sites are public for everyone else to see as well.

How have you seen diving into this campaign head on affect other aspects of the business, if it all?

It really helps open communication with our customers. We’re able to promote events more effectively, get the word out about specials quicker, and change things we receive customer feedback on.

What is the best piece of advice you could give a small business regarding social media and getting more engagement with their customers?

Keep the “social” aspect alive in your social media. Don’t think of Twitter and Facebook as radio stations where you broadcast messages to your customers. Find which content is relevant to them by engaging in conversations and always continue to release new content on a regular basis.

When it comes to social media, engagement is the name of the game and Preston Porter and Basil T’s are way ahead of the curve compared to other small businesses just getting started.

Busy Bee

It’s been a busy, busy Spring. I’ve been wearing more hats than ever as the Social Media Chef and loving it!

I’ve been taking a lot of pictures.

Most of them from Undici’s wine lecture dinners. I even get to taste the wines (sometimes). Check out the rest of the pictures on Undici’s Facebook page and drop me a comment!

I’ve been working on some new projects for work.

One of the most recent being the new and improved VictorRallo.com. Made in WordPress, with plenty of interesting videos and articles. I’ve also been going to some really exciting events like Bellissimo Brunello, a brunello tasting event in NYC hosted by James Suckling. James was kind enough to send us some VIP invites. You can read our post on the event here.

I’ve been blogging, writing, and giving Post It Poetry some TLC.

SocialMediaChef.net has been getting the short end of the stick lately. I’ve been posting a bit more over at PrestoWrites!, so keep an eye for more writing to be posted there soon. Post It Poetry has new submissions, so be sure to swing by there and check them out. You might even work up the courage to write and submit one yourself! I’ve been thinking a lot about this project, and have some significant changes coming up the pipe soon…

I’ve been at Starbucks…

Which is where I wrote this post. While I was writing, a white stretch limousine pulled up. Sadly, nobody famous stepped out.

The Social Media Chef

Hi, I’m Preston Porter.  I’m a writer, a blogger, social media enthusiast, marketer (you can read more about my background in writing and the web here), but my most recent title is Social Media Chef. Over the last year, I’ve graduated college, (BA in Literature and Creative Writing) interned at a PR firm, and done some freelance work for restaurants. After a few months of great online growth, I was hired as a full time, in-house online marketing/web content/business development manager. This mouthful of a job title eventually was replaced by the much catchier title of “Social Media Chef.”

In a nutshell, I create and coordinate all the delicious content surrounding the restaurants and websites I work for, and serve it up to the customers. I shoot/edit video recipes, oversee marketing campaigns, post updates on special offers, write articles on Italian foods and ingredients, post travel videos, and a wide spectrum of things that wine and food lovers enjoy. I’m always looking to connect with other foodies, wine enthusiasts, bloggers, writers, and I’d probably love to hear from you.

I’m not a chef (my cooking ability extends to making a grilled cheese sandwich), or a sommelier (although I am becoming well versed on Italian wine) but I’m using my strong writing background, my lifelong love for new media, and my experience in marketing  to work in a field I am passionate about. The web is where people are going for information on restaurants, wine, and food; I’m making sure content they’re looking for will be online for them, attractively plated and piping hot. Delicious.

What’s on the menu?

The idea behind this blog is for it to become a stew of the content I create and work with. Articles (written by yours truly and a few guest writers), news on upcoming wine and food events I’m involved with in, videos, pictures, and updates as I meet other bloggers, and even a few winemakers. SocialMediaChef.net is a place for me to share my experiences as the Social Media Chef with you, and a starting point for discussions on the ever evolving online world of food and drink.

Bon Appétit