Reasons you should cook.

I cook for one reason. I want to be able to make food I enjoy. Of course I enjoy cooking for others, but unfortunately that’s not my motivation for learning to cook. Some of the most memorable moments in my life have involved great food. I want to be able to recreate that feeling on my own.

A few months ago, I started to put together a list of dishes and ingredients that I plan to master cooking. Many of these dishes I’ve made before, but I’m far from mastering any of them. I want to be able to improvise and add twists as I make these dishes without ever consulting directions or recipes.

Here’s the beginning to my list:

  • Burgers
  • Cheese Cake
  • Crème brûlée
  • Crêpes
  • French Toast
  • Pasta (Handmade)
  • Leg of Lamb
  • Lobster
  • Pizza
  • Salmon
  • Scallops
  • Seared Ahi Tuna
  • Steak

I want to make the brioche buns for my burgers. I want to craft my own fresh hand made pastas. I plan on catching my own tuna.

Photos from Flickr. Thanks Glowbal Connection (Seared Ahi) and Sebastian Mary (Crème brûlée)!

Share this:

10 social media marketing tips for restaurants.

Stuart Felkner, in this article, explains a social media marketing strategy for bars and restaurants. I couldn’t agree more that the hospitality industry should use social media in a very different way than consumer products, celebrities, or services. The point of purchase for restaurants and bars are at their physical location, as opposed to products or services you can buy over the phone or online, and therefore their social media marketing strategy should be focused around actively sharing information that will get customers to come to their venue.

Here are 10 basic social media marketing tips & tricks I put together for restaurants:

1)      Make sure your twitter/facebook account information is on every marketing material you send out.

2)      Post an update the moment your happy hour starts. Pair this information with a specific item from your happy hour menu and the price. This way you can notify people of your happy hour every day without sending the same message out every day.

3)      Post any events or specials you have going on, multiple times leading up to the event. Make sure you don’t post information about the event twice in a row. Make sure each post is slightly different such as by referencing different menu items each time.

4)      Post a featured drink or menu item every few days around lunch or dinner. A mouthwatering description of these items, sent at the opportune moment could be just the right nudge to get people to come and eat.

5)      Post links to articles and videos that mention your restaurant or chef. On twitter, make sure you mention (use @ mark) the magazine or publication on twitter. Many publications will retweet mentions of themselves, which is a great way to get them to promote your twitter account.

6)      If anybody notable person or group is planning on being at your venue, make sure to mention them. This could be a business throwing a company party or the band that’s playing on a weekend night. The idea is that you promote them, and they will in return promote you.

7)      Keep an eye out for people who @ mention you. They could simply be telling their friends that they are at your venue, or asking you a specific question. Either way, recognizing their mention and mentioning them back is a great way to convert casual fans to loyal followers.

8)      Post a promo code for free/cheap drinks or appetizers. This is a great way to provide an incentive for people to follow/friend you.

9)      You can go a step further by creating and linking to a promotional coupon your customers can print out and bring in. People have an incentive to share coupons because they want to be helpful to their friends.

10)   Post links to articles or news that have relevant content to your restaurant. Have a large tequila collection? Post articles to great tequila cocktail recipes. Are you a fusion restaurant? Post articles about how fusion food is “hot” right now.

Photo from Flickr. Thanks The Vault DFW!

Share this:

10 reasons to do social media marketing.

Here are 10 reasons your business or company should do social media marketing.

1) The percentage of time spent on social networking sites by people is increasing relative to total time spent on the Internet.

2) People are increasingly making both personal and business decisions based on recommendations or suggestions from people they know.

3) People are more likely to share/suggest/recommend people/businesses/products/brands if it is made easier for them to do so.

4) Showing your ability to create and find relevant and interesting content is a good way to establish credibility in your field.

5) There are people out there who may not give you a chance to sit down and talk to them, but are willing to read something you write and post online.

6) More people will view and share content you create if you share it with them (as opposed to not sharing it with them).

7) Social networking sites are the newest and most technologically advanced marketing tools out there, and you can start using them for free.

8) A successful social media marketing strategy can increase the value of your product or service.

9) A successful social media marketing strategy can increase the effectiveness of any marketing, advertisement, and/or PR campaign.

10) Social media isn’t a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.

If you disagree with, or have any questions about any of these 10 reasons, please leave a comment. I’ll explain further.

Share this:

Markters, PR Agencies, Advertisers, and Business Owners must understand social media marketing.

I’ve written about why businesses need to do social media marketing and shared with you a video that depicts why social media isn’t a fad, but a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. I want to talk today a little bit about the future of social media marketing.

For all marketers, PR agencies, advertisers, and business owners, understanding social media marketing is going to become a necessity. This is for two reasons.

The first being that we, as a society, are going to increasingly rely on information about businesses and brands from people we know. While current social networking sites may not be optimized for marketers, betters tools are being created and current tools are getting better every day. Ignoring the amount of time people spend on social networking sites and the activity that occurs on these sites is a stupid decision for marketers or business owners to make.

The second reason is that social media marketing isn’t a stand-alone solution. Social media marketing will become an integral and necessary component of any business’s integrated marketing communications plan. This means that social media marketing will enhance traditional advertisements, PR, experiential marketing events, and all other marketing efforts. On the other hand, all marketing efforts by a business will enhance their social media marketing. The better integrated a social media marketing strategy is to the rest of their marketing/PR efforts, the better both will do.

What this means is that businesses must make sure that their PR agency, marketing expert, and their social media marketing guy are all working together, in unison. Otherwise, you’re wasting a lot of time, money, and opportunities.

Share this:

Best social media marketing strategies implement collaboration marketing principles.

John Hagel, using the term Collaboration Marketing, explains the most important principles behind a successful social media marketing solution. The following is an excerpt from his full blog post: Restoring the Power of Brands. This is written in 2005, but applies now more so than ever, as businesses flock to social media without a clear understanding of the important principles that allow marketers to harness social media effectively.

“In essence, collaboration marketing focuses on attracting customers rather than intercepting them with traditional advertising. It attracts customers by becoming more and more helpful to them, both in terms of evaluating potential new products and services and getting more value from products and services once they have been purchased. In part, collaboration marketing programs seek to become more helpful by mobilizing a broad range of relevant, specialized third parties to add value to the customer relationship. Collaboration marketing challenges the current mantra of “one to one marketing” and instead views the opportunity as “many to one”, connecting each customer with as many entities (including other customers) as may be required to maximize value for the customer. Collaboration marketing represents a “pull” approach where the marketer becomes so helpful to customers that they seek the marketer out, rather than a conventional “push” approach blasting marketing messages out in an effort to find customers that might be receptive to the marketer’s offering.

Rather than “owning the customer”, collaboration marketing strives to give each customer the perception that they own the vendor. To do this well, companies will also need to master the skills required to capture and analyze detailed information about individual customers. By serving as the orchestrator, helping to connect customers with other entities, collaboration marketers develop richer profiles of customers and their needs and they learn much more deeply and rapidly about their customers than traditional marketers who focus on narrow “one to one” relationships. The good news is that powerful new platforms and tools, ranging from the Internet to Web services technology and powerful analytic tools, are becoming available to help vendors implement these new marketing programs and deliver on this new brand promise.” (

Share this:

Why do social media marketing?

No matter what business you run, you want your customers and potential customers to think about your brand or business, in a positive way, as often as possible. The more this happens, the more likely they are to return or come to you for business and the more likely they are to suggest you to others.

One way to do this is to engage in traditional advertisements. Brands can find their way into the idle consciousness of people during commercial breaks, or as they’re driving around by using billboards or radio ads. However, there are limitations to this. The biggest being the inability for people to respond. It’s difficult to measure how many people view your advertisements or how many take the next step to becoming a customer. If a person believes the ad is relevant to himself or his friends, it takes a few extra steps for him to save or share this information.

Remember, just because somebody wants to do something (such as sharing with friends information about a special deal your business is offering), doesn’t mean they’re going to do it. By making it easier for people to do what you want them to do, you make it more likely that they will do it. That’s what a lot of social media marketing is about.

It should be no surprise to you that social networking site usage is increasing as a percentage of overall time spent on the Internet. What this means is that people are spending more and more of their idle time time engaging with friends, content, and brands, as opposed to simply surfing the Internet. People are still finding the same content as before, but the way they find it now is often through friends.

It addition, almost every social networking site’s business model is based on brands and marketers wanting to leverage the functionality of their site and user base. The creators of social networking sites have in mind what the businesses want, and are going to become profitable by creating tools that will benefit marketers the most.

As a result, social media marketing is going to become increasingly relevant.

If you don’t engage in social media marketing, you’re also doing the following:

  • Ignoring the opportunity to engage with customers during their idle time.
  • Making it difficult for your customers to share interesting or entertaining content about your brand/business.
  • Missing out on the opportunity to take advantage of the most recent and technologically advanced marketing tools, which you can start using free of charge.

When starting to implement your social media marketing strategy, remember that it’s not a stand-alone solution. You should be using social media marketing to increase the value of your product or service and increase the effectiveness of your marketing/PR/advertisements. And vice versa.

Share this:

Introduction to Social Media Marketing

It seems like social media marketing is all the craze. Everybody seems to be talking about it. Every business is either hiring a social media marketing expert or a social media intern. But what is social media marketing? Do people really understand it?

Social media marketing is an additional element to marketing/PR that leverages the popularity and rise in social networking sites. The first thing business owners and marketers must understand is why people use social networking sites. In short, people use social networking sites to share and receive updates and news from people they know. This includes everything from their personal life, such as what they’re doing, photos, or what they’re thinking, to updates about what’s going on in the world, such as interesting links, news stories, or funny videos. Social media marketing allows businesses to leverage these daily interactions that happen online and get their customers to promote their brand at little or no cost.

Social media marketing starts by creating and sharing interesting and entertaining content through the business’s social media outlets. Since the purpose is to get your customers and friends to share your content, marketers must make sure that the content they’re posting is likely to be shared. The term for this is social media optimization. This begins by reading and understanding the type and format of content that is most commonly shared, liked, and commented on. It’s not important that the content directly relates to your product or service, more so that it’s relevant to the interests of your target market and customers.

Businesses have two options when posting sharable content. One is to create the content themselves. This includes everything from starting a blog, creating videos, answering questions on Q&A websites, and sharing photos. The other is to find content that already exists. This includes finding blog posts, news articles, images, and videos that relate to your product, your service, or the culture that your company will thrive in.

The best way for businesses to start implementing social media marketing is to set up their social media outlets, to start posting content they believe is relevant, and to study the response of their fans, followers, and friends. Don’t expect to implement a successful social media marketing strategy over night. For all businesses, it’s important to treat social media marketing as a learning experience as much as it is a marketing strategy.

Share this:

Social Media Marketing is more about culture than technology.

When I tell people that I’m starting a company that studies and implements social media marketing, many people respond by telling me that it sounds interesting, but that technology isn’t their thing. This is a misconception. A successful social media marketer is someone who understands the nuances of the current cultural landscape.

Social media marketing is very similar to word of mouth marketing, but with a few differences. With both marketing strategies, marketers must find out how to fit their brand into the day-to-day interactions that people have. Word of mouth is more about face-to-face interactions, which is more genuine and effective; marketers must focus on their brand evangelists, the people who are constantly promoting their brand for them. In social media marketing, the depth of each interaction and the loyalty of the brand evangelists are both less, but the speed in which something can spread is tenfold that of traditional word of mouth marketing.

What’s most important in social media marketing is understanding how and why people use social networking sites. Understanding UI/UX design, programming code, database structures, analytics, and technology is a big competitive advantage, but not a necessity. It’s more important that you can answer questions like, “what types of links do people share with each other, and why?”, “what time of the day are people on social networking sites, and why?”, and “who is most likely to share my content, and why?”

Because the two marketing strategies are so similar, the effect is multiplied when both are put into place. This is when you have to start understanding the big questions like, “how has social networking sites affected people’s lives offline?”, “what is the public (or niche) perception of people who use social networking sites?”, and “how conscious are people of how the information they share online affects their overall reputation?”

When I’m analyzing social media marketing strategies, I’m spending my time trying to understand people, culture, and society. Not technology. That’s all I’m saying.

Share this:

How to throw a successful party.

Imagine a party with free booze, an awesome live band, amazing food, and no people. You wouldn’t call that a successful party. A party can only be successful with people there, so throwing a party starts with marketing. Word of mouth marketing to be exact.

If you’re throwing a party as big as Hard Halloween, you’ll have to do some real marketing. But in this post, I’m talking about house parties, birthday parties, and college parties, where your goal is simply to get your friends to come out. If every time you throw a party, all of your friends come out, then this post is not for you. However, most of us have had an experience where people whom you thought would come to your party decided to do something else that night.

Word of mouth marketing for parties is all about understanding and leveraging the conversations that goes on between your friends, when they aren’t around you. First, you want to make sure they talk about your party. Next, you want the conversation to be heading in the direction of, “Yeah, let’s go to his/her party.”

Get people to talk about your party.

Just because you received an invite to a party on Facebook doesn’t mean you’re going to bring it up the next time you see your friends. Nor are you necessarily going to call/text your friends about the party immediately. Sometimes, by the time the topic comes up, you’ve already discussed and/or committed to going to another event. What you want is for your friends to start talking about your party to each other before they’re thinking about what they want to do that day.

Start by making sure you get an event invitation out at least a week before. People get together on the weekends, and this is when you want your party to come up as a topic of conversation. I try and send out event invites on Friday afternoon, so it’s still fresh on their mind.

Then, text or call some of your friends that weekend, at night. Simply to check in and see how they’re doing. If they’re hanging out with friends, this could spark the conversation about your party next weekend. Be wary of texting people with the sole motivation of promoting your party, because it can come off as not genuine. But it’s alright to be a little more active with your text the weekend before you throw a party.

Make sure that conversation leads to a Yes.

Just because people discuss your party doesn’t mean they’ll decide to come. Every time I throw a party, I run through some mock dialogues in my head on how conversations about my party might go.

Common topics include: how’s parking? how are we going to get there? whose going to be there? were we all invited?

Make sure you address as many of these issues as you can in your party invitation and via texts (different people will have different concerns). For example, your friend’s friend may not want to go because she wasn’t invited. By simply writing “invite your friends!” on the invitation, your friend’s can comfort her that she is indeed welcome.

Aside from that, make sure that the party you’re throwing is actually going to be awesome. Make sure you share with your friends why it’s going to be awesome. Also, having one unique thing at your party can often spark positive conversation. I’m talking about having a tetherball court at your party, a six foot long ice luge, or a petting zoo.

Photo from Flickr. Thanks AleReportage!

Share this:

Why people use social networking sites.

This post is directly taken from my response to a question on Quora, a Q&A website in which I answer questions about social media marketing.

Q: Why do people engage in social media?

A: This has to do with the evolution of the Internet and it’s usage.

When the Internet first became available to the masses, information was shared from few-to-many. Few people had the technical knowledge or the resources to afford the technical knowledge to create websites.

As the cost of creating content on the web decreased, the information network on the Internet increasingly became many-to-many. It started with people posting on discussion boards and public chat rooms, then people could create full websites and blogs with no technical knowledge.

Eventually, the early social networking sites started to acknowledge relationships between people, creating a filter of information based on people you actually know or have agreed to share content with. This is the new few-to-few model, only possible because your profile and network online act as filters.

Share this: