Recipe for Social Media Marketing Success – My Guest Post from The Lotus Position

Chef headerA few years back (originally posted in September 2014), I had the great pleasure of being the very first guest blogger on The Lotus Position! Below is my post from their blog on the Recipe for Social Media Marketing Success. I’m dusting it off and breaking back out after a few years as it has some great points that can be followed even today. Be sure to check out The Lotus Position for more great posts on follow @lotus823 on Twitter!

Cooking up quality social media and content marketing campaigns can be a daunting task. Like cooking a homemade meal for your entire family, sometimes finding the right recipe and getting started can be the most overwhelming step. While this will serve as a general guide for crafting your own stew of social media success, finding a great marketing agency, skilled social media chef, or online marketing resource can help guide you so you’re not writing your recipe from scratch. There’s no need to reinvent the meal. Now let’s get cooking!

Ingredients

Every great recipe starts with great ingredients. Figuring out which ingredients you’ll need, how they’ll be used, and getting them together can be half the effort. Take your time and remember that no matter how complex or clever a recipe is, success can’t happen without all the essential components.

Serving Size

One of the first things you’ll need to consider is the scope of your social media and content marketing campaigns. Is your business (or your client) a mom-and-pop catering to a local audience, a large brand with national reach, or somewhere in between? Be pragmatic and don’t stretch yourself or your resources too thin.

Staff & Budget

Once you’ve figured out the general size and depth of your social media endeavors, you’ll need to allocate your resources accordingly. Are you a one-chef show, or do you have a whole kitchen of cooks at your disposal? Taking inventory of whom and what you have to work with along with your estimated serving size should be among the first steps in planning your social media and content marketing strategy. Also keep in mind the next steps you’d need to take to expand in case your campaign grows quickly.

Cooking Utensils

Having the right tools to cook with is a must for any chef; you can’t cut veggies without a knife, and you can’t boil water without pots. Consider what hardware (such as cameras for photography) and software (such as Final Cut for video production) you’ll need when it comes to cooking up your content.

Preheating and Prep Work

Before you fire up the stove, there are carrots to be chopped and garlic to be peeled. Get to know the audience you’re trying to reach: research which social media sites they are using the most, identify influential niche blogs and communities, and create user personas. Having an understanding of who your campaigns are for and where they spend their time online will help you to cater to their taste. Once you understand what makes your target audience tick, brainstorm some ideas for content. Organize and outline strategies, write preliminary copy (such as a mission statement) and create social media pages if you haven’t already. Remember, it’s better to be active and engaging on only a few social media sites than inactive on many.

Cooking

Once you have everything you need prepared and your oven warmed up, it’s time to get your hands dirty!

Cooking Times

When cooking, timing is critical. Ingredients that take longer to cook need to be done first so everything comes together in harmony. Things like SEO need to be simmered over longer periods of time, and assets like videos must be planned, shot and produced. Make sure you give yourself enough lead time with larger projects and make a content calendar to keep everything running on schedule.

Measure Everything Carefully

Mixing up a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of salt can ruin even the most carefully planned dishes. Just as you must carefully measure each ingredient as it’s added into a recipe, it’s important to measure the progress of your efforts on every front. Use Google Analytics (or similar tracking services) to monitor traffic to your website, and the various insights/analytics components of your social media pages to see what content is successful and what isn’t. Understanding who is visiting your sites and why will also give you indications on how to tweak your SEO efforts.

Taste While You Cook

While an actual dish is prepared completely and then served, social media and online content are constantly being created, served and consumed. Throughout the process of creating and executing your online campaigns, it’s important to dip your finger in to taste your recipe (e.g. feedback and engagement from your audience, staying on-point with your brand messaging) to see what is working best and build upon it. While this goes hand-in-hand with keeping an eye on your online metrics as mentioned in the previous step, making sure you’re achieving the flavor and overall tone you want is a bit more subjective.

Spice Things Up

Even the most delicious traditional recipes can benefit from adding a little kick! Don’t be afraid to be spontaneous and add a little spice to your online marketing. One incredible example of some impromptu zing being thrown into the mix was Oreo’s epic tweet during the Super Bowl XLVII blackout. This ended up being one of the standout moments of the Super Bowl, and it was all done in the heat of the moment.

Have a Balanced Meal

Just like you wouldn’t have an entire meal of just rice, make sure your campaigns are a healthy balance of content, social media, SEO, PR and traditional marketing elements. All of these components working in harmony can create delicious, result-driving success.

Plating and Service

No matter how delicious a dish is, it might as well be dog food if nobody gets to taste it! Getting the final product to your hungry audience and having it look appetizing is just as important as the ingredients that went into your recipe.

Plating

If you’re not familiar with the term, plating is “the practice of arranging food in an attractive and appealing manner on a serving plate” (thanks to WiseGeek for the well-worded definition). Presenting your online content in the right way and making it easily accessible can make all the difference. Using hashtags, shortlinks, posting during peak usage times, optimizing for search and posting to the appropriate social platforms are just a few ways to ensure the online campaigns you worked hard to cook up reach your audience piping hot and looking great. Also be sure to include a healthy amount of cross-linking between your social platforms and content pieces so users get a taste of everything you’ve got!

social media cupcakes

Service

In addition to the presentation of your efforts, getting feedback and raising a glass for the occasional toast can make everything taste that much better. Respond, converse, and encourage people to try everything on the plate. Personable engagement with your audience will keep them coming back for second helpings!

Thanks for reading my recipe for social media success. For more digital marketing deliciousness, follow me on Twitter at @HelloPresto. Bon Appetite and be sure to tip your waiter.

 

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.

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