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Tweeting: Crack for Foodies

January 5, 2010

I heard a report on NPR this morning on the various segments of social networking and the demographic shifts between MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Bear in mind that the main interviewee was a 16 yr old boy, Niko, from California (white kid) who claimed that MySpace was for “trashy people” ( the report went on to clarify that this meant Mexicans) and Facebook was for white kids, while twitter was for “old people”. Granted a paraphrase makes you probably want to slap Niko for his overt racial profiling of the SN world, but it does bring up a point worth investigating. Why do certain SN sites seem to be the Flavor of the moment and others seem to have fallen from grace, in the case of MySpace? I remember when I was literally addicted to MySpace, which seemed to evaporate overnight in favor of Facebook, followed shortly thereafter with a migration to Twitter. If you use equations to reconstruct life, this in turn means that I was a Mexican who became white and grew old, all in the course of about 2 yrs. What a journey…

As it relates to food, there is a clear winner in the SN world. Without question, this winner is Twitter, the domain of the old, according to our aforementioned anti-protagonist. With a simple format and powerful effective tools for disseminating food rhetoric, twitter becomes the obvious choice for the creative yet limited attention spans of so many of us foodies. Perhaps, like a good sear on scallops, this is the key to it’s overwhelmingly positive reception. You don’t need to know how to do much more than construct a confusing sentence laden with @ and d and # signs and a generous sense of liberty for the English language in order to deliver your messages to a whole audience of fellow foodophiles.

More importantly, it is the kind of application that the notoriously cheap restaurant industry would go for in spades over more traditional albeit expensive forms of advertising. Now, friends, do not get offended by my adjectives, for I will back these statements up with a parable:

Ex. 1 A local ad agency approached your restaurant to develop and publish a series of print ads to highlight your single minded focus on quality, local ingredients with carefully prepared classical recipes and a flair for customer service as well as good ambience. Sounds good right? Sure thing, until said agency presents the estimate for services that totals 10K dollars and will take 2 months to institute.

Ex. 2 You stumble, coffee mug in hand, towards your tired old laptop. You login and for the next half hour catch up on the news, look at a video clip of Anthony Bourdain eating chili and ginger glazed pork BBQ in Indonesia, make a quick bank transaction(online) and then login to Twitter, much like a junky returning to the smack. You spend three minutes enjoying the sensation of the caffeine as it begins to course thru your system, meanwhile composing your thoughts. Finally and with a mildly heightened sense of expectation, you add 140 characters to the borg, desperately hoping that someone will Re-Tweet it. This in turn is guaranteed to be partially perused by your 1,557 attention deficited followers, or at least some percentage of them. And may possibly result in a few more covers at todays lunch where you will serve the same level of quality food and service that the other ad would cost you 10 thousand to brag about. All for free!

So this begs the next question:

What are you doing now? answer?: “@friends RT this please! Great new specials from @restaurant to be served only to my followers. #eating_great 25% discount to 1st 10 followers”

Have I proved my point? With the exception of big chains, this is a more cost effective methodology with faster results. And that is good.

The only problem I have noted is that the tendency is for Foodies to mill around in self inflating bunches, like little semi-anonymous cliques, congratulating themselves on clever recipes and one liners. This doesn’t seem like effective outreach to me. The exceptions of course are the Anthony Bourdains of the twitterverse who bring in show viewers. These followers might not all be considered traditional “foodies” and therefore increases his chances of growing his market share on twitter. I would caution tweeters like me to try to reach your end user. For all the adoring friends in your twitterworld, if there is no return on your investment of time, then you are simply wasting it, when you could be in the kitchen cooking…

Cheers,
Eric

PS: BTW I am going to post the link to this article on, you guessed it, Twitter so all my foody friends can read it. Enjoy!

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