How to make pork and lamb sausage egg mcmuffins.

I wake up in the morning and often crave a McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin. Aside from french toast and eggs benedict, it may be my favorite breakfast. I also love their hash browns and sometimes think their coffee is better than at Starbucks. On top of that, I can play McDonald’s Monopoly, my favorite campaign from a fast food restaurant!

I need to stop going to McDonald’s.

The reason I started cooking was to make food I want to eat. So why don’t I make myself some breakfast sausage sandwiches with eggs and cheese? I don’t have enough time in the morning to make myself breakfast.

Solution: make a batch and freeze it.

I bought myself the following for a total of less than $12 and made 8 Sausage McMuffins, which comes out to less than $1.50 a piece:

– 1/2 lbs of ground pork (~$4)
– 1/2 lbs of ground lamb (~$3)
– 12 english muffins (~$1)
– 12 medium eggs (~$1)
– 16 slices of cheese (~$1)

I took the meat and added the following before I made 8 flat patties the dimension of english muffins and cooked it up on a frying pan (5 minutes each side):

– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp pepper
– 1 tsp sage
– 1 tsp thyme
– 1 tsp rosemary
– 1 tbs sugar
– pinch of cinnamon
– pinch of ginger
– pinch of cayenne
– pinch of red pepper flakes

I then cooked up some eggs, stacked up the ingredients, and there you go. 8 of my very own Pork and Lamb Sausage Egg McMuffins. Frozen and ready to be toasted any morning I feel the craving.

You have no idea how excited I am for breakfast tomorrow.

The three main stakeholders when marketing through social media.

With the increase in time spent on social networks, the necessity for both big and small businesses to engage in social media marketing increased. Accordingly, the supply of social media experts/consultant also increased. Social media marketing, however, is an immature industry and there is a varying degree in how helpful they can be to a business.

Many social media marketers don’t do much, which is simply to set up their social media outlets, and in some cases to update their status and tweets for the business. This isn’t really helpful unless done correctly.

Social media marketing involves three main stakeholders, and a successful social media marketer understands the need of all three to create a strategy that optimizes the opportunity that social media marketing offers. The three stakeholders are the social networks themselves, the business, and the customers/potential customers.

To understand the social networks themselves means to understand the goals and ambition of Facebook, Twitter, etc. By understand the trends in social networking sites, marketers are able to make sure that the business is not only using the current tools to the fullest, but also to prepare them for changes to come. For example, there are many businesses who receive check-ins from customers, yet are still not set up on Foursquare. Understanding UI/UX design allows marketers to read further into the goals of the social networking sites since they are carefully designed with specific intentions. Understanding database design allows marketers to understand things such as the algorithm that decides which posts show up on people’s newsfeed within Facebook.

To understand the business means to understand their operations and marketing efforts. Since social media marketing isn’t a stand-alone solution, the more the marketer understands the business and the industry they are marketing for, the more effective they are able to be. For example, if there are many professionals in a specific industry who avidly use Twitter to share interesting articles, it could make sense for a business to start a blog and to connect with these professionals through Twitter. As another example, if there is an open line of communication between the PR firm and social media marketing firm for a business, the social media marketers can make sure that new articles on blogs and magazines get promptly updated and available on various social networking sites.

Finally, a social media marketer must understand how people use social networking sites. It starts with following up on studies that provide insight on the types of links and media people are likely to share. This can be broken down into various demographics and hobbies. Rather than posting content the company wants to share, marketers must be able to create and share content that the customers want to share with each other. Many work of mouth marketing principles and collaboration marketing principles apply to social media marketing. Not surprisingly people enjoy exclusive discounts and freebies.

The rise of video in social media.

I’m not predicting that the importance of video in social media will rise. I’m telling you that it will. There are many things going on that make this quite obvious. Most recently, Twitter integrated media into their interface. Everybody knows that videos have the potential to go viral and reach an unexpected number of people. The cost of creating a video has significantly decreased as well; high quality cameras are cheaper and editing tools are getting better. Any decently talented film student can make professional quality video clips.

What does this mean?

1) Web-exclusive “commercials” by big brands. Until recently, businesses only created enough commercials to fill up airtime they could afford on TV. Now, people are watching videos online as entertainment. What we’ll see is big and small brands creating commercials (cheap) without buying airtime on television (expensive). It becomes increasingly important for these commercials to be entertaining so that they get passed along to many people. Creativity will play a big role here, which takes me to my second point.

2) An increase in demand for people who can create videos. While you can find creativity in about every corner of the world, you need a specific skill set to create an engaging video out of an idea. While some businesses will surely bring people in-house, it doesn’t allow them to tap into the creative mindset of people outside their office walls. We’ll see an increase in outsourcing and crowd sourcing of creating short videos. For example, big brands will run contests to have branded short videos created by students and such and ask them to share it through social media outlets. Doritos does this for their Superbowl commercial, but this can be done on a smaller scale and for much cheaper.

3) Multiple niche videos that promote the same brand. As the number of videos available online increases, it’s less likely that we’ll all be watching the same videos. There are of course videos that will reach millions of people, but that’s more of an extra benefit that may or may not happen. Certain videos are more likely to spread through one group of people while another video may be more likely to spread through another group. Rather than putting a lot of resources into one video that targets the entire market, creating many niche videos for cheap allows businesses to bond with various customers on a more personal level.

If you have the skill set to create awesome videos, contact me. I’ll find you a job.

Why isn’t everything synced!?!?!?

When I get your number at a bar and put it in my phone, within minutes it’s saved in some cloud (server) somewhere, and is also automatically on my laptop. I can actually find all my contact information from any computer that has internet. This is all thanks to MobileMe, a service from Apple that costs $100/yr. Considering everything else it offers, totally worth it.

That’s not enough.

When I add your email address to my phone, I want that to be in my contacts on my gmail account.

I want to be able to tell whether or not I’m connected to you on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter easily in one place.

I want your company and title to automatically update on my phone and computer when you change it on LinkedIn.

I want facebook profile photos to be synced and uploaded onto the contacts on my phone if I don’t have a picture saved, so I don’t forget who you are if I don’t know you that well.

If I’m friends with you on Facebook and you have your email address on your profile, why isn’t it on my phone? Why isn’t it in my gmail contacts?

Maybe I’m asking for too much. Maybe people just aren’t figuring it out. Maybe I’ll figure it out.

You won’t need to carry your wallet anymore.

 

My friend recently shared this article with me from Fast Company about how Credit Cards Will Go Electronic, Then Dissappear into iPhone 5. This should read: “Credit Cards have been electric, and have already disappeared into mobile phones.” The idea is quite simple and fantastic. With traditional credit cards you have to swipe so that the machine can read the magnetic strip. An evolution of that is a card where all you have to do is wave the card for the machine to read your card. We take that one more step further and implement that technology into your phone, so all you have to do is swipe your phone over the machine to pay for items.

What blows my mind is how behind the US is when it comes to technology. Living in the US, it’s easy to feel as though we’re far ahead in … everything. As far as I understand, however, contactless payment systems are still not widely adopted. What you probably didn’t know is that these contactless payment cards have been popularly used in the Japanese metro system since 2001. They are called the Suica card and they use the same RFID technology described in the Fast Company article for contactless payment. The convenience and efficiency of not having to take a card out of your wallet to use it is priceless, and can’t be described fairly with words.

NTT Docomo has taken this technology and started providing phones with “mobile wallets” since 2004. People in Japan use their iMode cellphone to pay at department stores, car parking lots, local train stations, and movie theaters. All they have to do is wave their phone over the machine reader. If you think about it, this is extremely convenient,  especially in a public transit community where people aren’t carded to buy alcohol. People don’t need to carry their wallet around at all.

Of course, as with all technology, being a first mover doesn’t necessarily make you the best. We all know Apple’s ability to take a piece of existing technology and make it accepted and noticed worldwide. This is good news for all of us, including the businesses who have already been providing this technology. Did you know that the introduction of the iPhone spurred Blackberry sales? Apple is a true leader.

Today is National Vodka Day & National Taco Day.

I’ve recently realized that every day is a national day for something. Today happens to be a national day for two somethings: Vodka & Tacos. Who decides on these national occurences? From what I hear, it’s the presidents. I wonder which president decided that National Taco Day should fall on the same day as National Vodka Day, or vice versa.

A tid bit from Toronto Life helped me makes sense of these nonsensical national celebrations:

According to food magazine The Nibble, the president of the United States determines these holidays—which are lobbied for by public relations firms, trade associations, industries, events, etc.—and declares a day dedicated to the food item. It’s pretty much like getting the key to a city or having a street temporarily renamed after a celebrity: a corporate press release hidden under the thin veil of something official and government-sounding.

It’s interesting to note that I found out about National Vodka Day from it being a Trending Topic on Twitter. It seems that nobody knew about it, and that everybody is excited to share this news.

Here’s a question. I understand that PR firms for Vodka companies and bars had the opportunity to create a pitch to blogs, magazines, and newspapers. That’s fine. But how could they take advantage of the fact that everybody on Twitter is talking about it?

If NationalVodkaDay.com was a website where people could order vodka online for 15% off, and it was actually run by a company like Bevmo, they could have made a killing from this National Vodka Day social media craze.

You live, you learn. It’s vodka day, so cheers.

Personality traits a social media marketer should have.

As social network usage increases, the necessity for businesses to engage in social media marketing increases. An increase in demand results in a increase in supply, which we know from basic economics. While the supply of social media marketers grows, we have to ask ourselves, which one of these social media marketers should I look to for help? I’ve put together a list of personality traits that will set the best social media marketers apart from the rest.

A genuine interest in marketing and marketing principles. Social media marketing is not a stand-alone solution and should fit into the entire marketing strategy for any business. It starts by asking important questions such as “who is my target market?”, “what sets my product/service apart from others?”, and “how do i convert attention into action?” It’s not enough to simply know and understand basic marketing principles, but to be genuinely interested by them, to become a strong marketer. It should be natural for these people to follow and friend their favorite brands, to react and respond to their marketing efforts, and to analyze and criticize their strategy. The simple act of doing this naturally and daily is an exercise of it’s own, and without the genuine interest in marketing, it’s not likely to last long.

A genuine interest in social culture. Social media marketing is about harnessing the excitement of people who already like their brand. It’s about getting the people connected to you to share messages, links, and content you think is relevant to them. Anybody can make assumptions on what information people share, but in this case knowledge is power. There are plenty of articles that study the type and format of content that is shared on various social networking sites. There are also plenty of links and media that is shared with you on these social networking sites. A genuine interest in social culture allows people to not take this information for granted, but to come up with their own theories on what information people share. Doing this overtime will allow social media marketers to understand the culture behind social networking sites that marketers need to harness.

A genuine interest in UI/UX design. For those of you who don’t know what UI/UX design is, it stands for User Interface/ User Experience design respectively. This has to do with the placement of buttons, the wording, and more that is put into place by the social networking sites themselves. Studying the way the social networking sites are designed is a great way to understand what the social networking site creators are thinking. This is because UI/UX design isn’t only about making the experience easier/better for the user, but also about getting them to do what you want AND setting the tone for the social culture within the site. A great example of this is when Facebook changed the “become a fan” button to the “like” button. What does this mean to the culture of Facebook? How does this affect the way viewers decide whether or not to click on this button? These are questions that should come naturally to any social media marketer. Otherwise, they will fall behind as new changes are made to social networking sites.

An interest in coding, programming, and database design. While it’s not necessary for a social media marketer to understand how Facebook & Twitter are created on the backend, it’s definitely an advantage. These social networking sites are tools for marketers, therefor knowing how these tools work is important. Any chef can probably make a ceviche, but knowing the chemistry behind how the acid in citric juices cooks seafood will surely help him perfect the ceviche. For example, not all Facebook posts by your friends show up on your newsfeed. There’s a formula that automatically determines which posts are most relevant to you. Without knowing this formula, there’s no way for a social media marketer to make sure their Facebook posts are News Feed Optimized.

An interest in social media and social media marketing. Social media is a fast paced industry. New tools and new studies are emerging every day, and each of these will allow social media marketers to refine their understanding and implementation of social media marketing strategies. It’s easy to fall behind. If your social media marketer doesn’t read Mashable.com, that’s bad news.

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)!

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!

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.