Below is a transcript of a live online panel discussion on social media, which took place on Tuesday, January 29, 2013. The chat included several panel members, with chefs, cooks, and food writers participating. The hour-long chat included talks with the panel about which social media sites they use, effective strategies, engagement with fans and followers, and more. [Note: The original discussion can be replayed at the following link: http://www.hiddenboston.com/online-discussion-0113.html and please go to the restaurant discussions link to check out our other chats.]
Marc H. (hiddenboston): Hello, everyone!
Nathan TheDailyMeal: Hello all!
Sharon Gitelle: hi all
simi from TnS: Hi there
Jim Love: Hi
Cindy Anschutz: Hi - just joined in
Jim Love: this is starting to look like the usual FB group... hehe
Marc H.: Ha ha! Very true. We pretty much know each other through Facebook here, but if you want to tell a little about yourselves, feel free.
Marc H.: Also, unlike the other chats I host, we have no audience here, so this will be VERY informal. Almost like sitting at a bar with drinks, only....well, without the drinks.
Jim Love: Be Mindful Be Human: Mindfulness is good. We are all human. And, we have to eat!
Sharon The Daily Meal: next time-- we can pick a drink from The Daily Meal drink channel that most reflects us and say why
simi from TnS: am simi and i blog at http://turmericnspice.blogspot.com
Marc H.: For the record, I'm Marc from Boston's Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk (which is a news-based blog).
simi from TnS: Sharon !- awesome idea
Jim Love: Right-E-O
Jennifer @1840Farm: Wait, I'm a few minutes late and I've already missed the discussion on cocktails?
Marc H.: You didn't just miss the discussion on cocktails--you missed the cocktails. :-D
simi from TnS: hi Jennifer
Cindy Anschutz: Hi, I am a food blogger, cookbook author and appear on our CT local stations for food segments.. I am hoping to get better with social media and gaining exposure in the food industry. my blog is www.cindystable.com
Jennifer @1840Farm: Even worse!
Jim Love: Oh, www.bemindfulbehuman.com
Jennifer @1840Farm: I like to say that I live at the intersection of family, food, and farming and share the experience at www.1840farm.com.
Jim Love: In our day job, we tell brand stories. Thought we would tell our own with BMBH.
Marc H.: We can probably start in a minute, but I just wanted to mention that we may have a social media expert or two join us, depending on their schedules. We may also have a couple of folks in the Boston-area restaurant biz.
Sharon The Daily Meal: and Nathan is our social media expert here at The Daily Meal
Marc H.: Oh, excellent!
Jim Love: There are 3 of us; Me, Christina Mil, my branding business partner, and Luke Pfost, a CIA-trained chef and friend. Basically, we make it up as we go along... having fun.
Cindy Anschutz: Hi Sharon!!
Jim Love: Social Media is one of the channels we focus on when we tell brand stories... of course, you need a good story first.
Marc H.: Maybe we can start out with a general overview, then get into the specifics of each social media site, along with strategies, engagement, etc. So which social media sites do each of you use the most, both for business and personal use?
Marc H.: For me, Facebook is #1 for both business and personal use, though I do use Twitter a lot for business.
simi from TnS: sounds great
Jennifer @1840Farm: In order: facebook, Pinterest, Twitter.
Cindy Anschutz: Mostly Facebook and linked in
Jim Love: FB and Pinterest for BMBH. FB and LinkedIn for personal/business
Jim Love: Twitter just follows along... so to speak.
Marc H.: Maybe it's best to name the biggest social media sites right now--Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn. Google+, with Instagram being on the cusp, I'd say. Any others?
simi from TnS: Facebook, pint rest, foodgawker (if is a social media platform)
simi from TnS: would you consider tastespotting and foodgawker as part of it ?
Marc H.: They are probably on the edges of social media as well, at least in popularity, but they would probably be considered a form of social media.
Sharon The Daily Meal: (hi Cindy)
Marc H.: What do you all use social media for as far as business is concerned? I'm assuming recipes are a big part of it?
Marc H.: I review restaurants, so much of it centers around reviews as well as photos. For my news-based blog, Twitter is a very good tool.
Cindy Anschutz: Recipes, Blog posts, media events, Entertaining tips, giveaways, gaining exposure! etc.
Jennifer @1840Farm: I use them to share recipes, share articles that I have contributed to print publications, and promote our new products as they are made available in our shop.
simi from TnS: Facebook helps me to see what every one is posting. Informal discussions on fb as what readers would like on the blog. but foodgawker and tastespotting really bring in a lot of traffic
Marc H.: Facebook is a very visual site, the way it shows a mix of photos, text posts, events, and more. Pinterest, Twitter, and others don't have that kind of flexibility.
simi from TnS: i agree
Marc H.: Why don't we get into each social media site, starting with Facebook?
Marc H.: So what do you think works with Facebook, and what doesn't? I know that engagement seems to be very important when it comes to that site.
Marc H.: You all know about the controversy over the past few months about Facebook becoming more "invisible," right? Posts were not being seen by fans of pages, and this seems to be a continuing problem.
Jennifer @1840Farm: I find that I have to engage my followers constantly. While I sometimes worry that I am inundating them with content, the more content I provide them, the more they interact and share with their friends. It becomes like an interactive game of telephone.
Marc H.: Very true. It's a tough balance, as "less is more" with social media, so people who post every 10 minutes quickly become invisible.
Jennifer @1840Farm: Marc, I think that it is a problem and all the more reason to regularly interact with your followers. If every follower isn't seeing every post, then the more content you provide, the more likely each follower is to see your content.
Marc H.: That's why I'm always asking questions on Facebook. You can have 1 million followers and if you're not engaging with your fans, you might as well have 10 followers.
Cindy Anschutz: I do know about the controversy and sometimes I feel that Facebook takes up so much of my day. I agree with Jennifer - I am not sure if I am not posting enough or inundating..
simi from TnS: I think it is informal and that is why I love it.
simi from TnS: less is definitely more with Fb - or you might just land in the block list
simi from TnS: Yes fb takes a lot of time and sometimes i wonder if it going anywhere
Marc H.: Some of the articles I've read on this say that you should do 1-3 posts per day on Facebook; maybe one around each meal. Less than 1 a day and you could risk becoming invisible as well.
Jennifer @1840Farm: I have known several people who did end up blocked due to the perception that they were spamming content. It seems to occur when you are posting identical content on multiple pages. Knock on wood, I haven't had an issue with that personally.
simi from TnS: thin line between friendly conversation, putting your content out there and overkill
Sharon The Daily Meal: it really depends on your goal-and this is where difficult--if your goal is to drive visitors back to your blog. There is no magic number of the size of your community= number of consistent visitors back. I also think it makes a difference if you're posting from your own personal page versus a fan page.
Marc H.: Oh yes, Sharon, actually, I hear that if you're posting business items from your personal page all the time, Facebook does not take kindly to that. They want you to have a business page for that reason.
simi from TnS: Sharon - so what do you think is better ? personal or fan page ?
Marc H.: simi, just in case Sharon is away for a minute, see my last post. They don't want you to do business from a personal page.
Nathan TheDailyMeal: Facebook's algorithm has always been a bit of a mystery for who it shows posts to... but from my experience, it's become quite apparent. In terms of links, the more people who click your links, the more people who will see that content. Puts a lot of pressure on making the copy compelling and 'clicky'
Marc H.: Yes. I believe that "shares" are most important, followed by "comments" and then "likes." 10 shares of a post are much more valuable than 10 likes. And clicking on links is definitely a good thing.
Sharon The Daily Meal: Simi-that is an entirely personal decision. I think. For the longest time I wanted to keep my personal page for only people I've actually met in real life. (However, since I started the CCN--that went out the window)
Nathan TheDailyMeal: The other engagement that seems to rank highly is commenting... Posts with many comments will do better in reach than those without. Likes seem to have less of an impact than comments.
Sharon The Daily Meal: and in response to @Nathan-- that's why headlines are very important--
Jennifer @1840Farm: I think that you also have to take into consideration that different pages have readers with different tastes. I watch my followers and take my cues from them. I personally follow some pages that I love seeing a lot of posts from and others that I would prefer to see fewer updates from mostly due to the type of content and relevance of their posts.
simi from TnS: Yes for that reason I have 2 accounts one for my personal friends and the other for blogger friends
Marc H.: We have a restaurant-based outfit here in Boston that learned early on how important engagement is with Facebook. They would simply post things such as "Shrimp or scallops?" or "I think that hot dogs are ___." It seems very simplistic, but their strategy worked and now they have one of the most popular Facebook pages in New England.
simi from TnS: Amazing !!
Marc H.: Let's move on to Twitter unless any of you want to add anything about Facebook...
Marc H.: Before we move on, I want to show you a great example of the importance of engagement on Facebook. Look at this page from Georgetown Cupcake: https://www.facebook.com/georgetowncupcake/posts/300787460024223
Marc H.: A simple trivia question and they get nearly 1,700 comments from it, along with many likes. Not too long ago, they had 50,000 fans; now they have over 200,000.
Jennifer @1840Farm: Wow!
Marc H.: So at the very least, it's always a good idea to at least consider asking a question in as many posts as you can, in my opinion.
simi from TnS: Wow
Jim Love: 8.5%
Marc H.: What was that, Jim?
Cindy Anschutz: Wow!!
Jennifer @1840Farm: I always get more comments when I ask my followers a question.
simi from TnS: I agree Jennifer
Marc H.: All right, how about some Twitter talk...do you all use it?
simi from TnS: not much, I know I should
Jim Love: 8.5% response rate from total followers
Marc H.: Oh, thanks!
Jennifer @1840Farm: I do, but I don't devote nearly as much time to it. I don't see traffic driven to my blog from Twitter.
Jim Love: We see almost no traffic from Twitter
Jim Love: in order: Organic, FB, Pinterest
Marc H.: Twitter really does seem like more of a site for news. It's not visual at all, which is of no help to posts on recipes in particular. Like I said earlier, my news-based site (restaurant openings/closings, events, etc.) does very well with Twitter, but not so much with food photos or even reviews.
Marc H.: I have more followers on Twitter than on any other social media site, but it's really tough to do any kind of engagement because it's so scattered--you can't have a "thread" with folks talking with each other.
Jennifer @1840Farm: Agreed. On Twitter, you can't rely on a beautiful photo to draw someone in. If facebook is a conversation, then Twitter is akin to texting with your followers. I have enough followers, but we're certainly not engaging in conversation with each other.
simi from TnS: am glad am not missing out ! I find twitter least engaging no visual or interaction
Marc H.: Definitely. I spend maybe 5-10 minutes a day on Twitter, mainly to post and run.
Marc H.: But as Twitter becomes more visual, it's good to at least keep a Twitter account. Now it has Vine, which focuses on video, and it has Twitpic, which is for photos. So maybe sometime down the road Twitter will become more valuable.
simi from TnS: anyone tried vine yet ?
Marc H.: I briefly took a look at it. Not all that impressed. It's all about 6-second videos, which isn't very helpful in most cases.
Marc H.: Why don't we move on to Pinterest...you all use Pinterest, I assume?
simi from TnS: pinterest - yes
Jennifer @1840Farm: Yes, I drive a lot of traffic to my blog from Pinterest.
simi from TnS: ya it helps traffic on my blog too
Jennifer @1840Farm: Again, I think that the visual nature of Pinterest is useful when you're dealing with recipes and food.
Marc H.: It definitely does--Pinterest seems like the "anti-Twitter," as it is completely visual. But it can also be a confusing site, with it showing the number of followers to your main page as well as the number of followers to each board. And it doesn't always drive traffic to people's site. Jennifer and simi, what strategies do you use for driving traffic to your sites from Pinterest?
lisa: pinterest has become our biggest place for social referrals
lisa: i'm bummed...i'm late, was thinking 3 pm central time
Marc H.: Doh! Well, glad you were able to make it for a bit! Welcome!
lisa: better late than never, right?
Marc H.: So what are some good strategies for Pinterest? It seems less clear than Facebook or Twitter to many people I've talked to.
Jennifer @1840Farm: I pin all of my new posts from my blog to the appropriate boards. Once they get repinned a few times, I see traffic to the specific pages that I have pinned.
simi from TnS: I always pin my post on different boards - like i dig spice, what's cooking ..and do it 2-3 times a week not more
Jim Love: Food is visual-kinesthetic. Pinterest is. Twitter is not.
simi from TnS: also use my best pic - as it is so visual
lisa: placing your pins throughout the day is big too
Jennifer @1840Farm: Welcome. Lisa!
lisa: weekends are the best for pinterest
Marc H.: They are? I wonder why that is? Maybe because people have more time to look at their own pace?
lisa: Thanks, Jennifer!
simi from TnS: i wish they had an ipad app
lisa: yes, i think more people spend more time browsing on weekends
lisa: they do have a pinterest app
Marc H.: The Pinterest app for the iPhone is really easy to use, by the way. Much better than Facebook, IMO.
simi from TnS: i thought that was for iphone
Jennifer @1840Farm: I do find that Pinterest drives the most traffic over the weekend while facebook drives the most traffic on Monday-Wednesday.
Jim Love: for the iPhone and iPad
simi from TnS: does anyone repin their own post more than once ?
simi from TnS: i ment ipad app
Marc H.: simi, I sometimes repin old posts if they didn't have any activity from the original pin, then I delete the old pin.
simi from TnS: great idea thxs
Jennifer @1840Farm: I do repin when it makes sense to. For interest, if I have a recipe and I have a few group boards that it can be posted to, then I post it each group board.
Marc H.: How many boards do you all have on your Pinterest pages? I have 20 right now. I've noticed that some people have hundreds of boards, actually.
simi from TnS: thxs Jennifer
lisa: i have 13 boards
simi from TnS: 19
Jim Love: 32
Jennifer @1840Farm: I have 35, but many of them are group boards.
Marc H.: Do you tend to use a "call to action" on Pinterest? I know it's a good idea to do so on Facebook and especially Twitter, but Pinterest seems like more of a laid-back site, so I'm wondering if it might not be a good idea to do that.
Jennifer @1840Farm: I usually write an intro for my pin and try to entice a viewer to clickthrough, but I haven't specifically used a call to action type statement.
Jim Love: When you all work on Pinterest, do you "think and pin" or "look and pin"?
Marc H.: Hmmm, good question. I tend to look and pin. It's all coming from the heart (and the eye) when it comes to Pinterest for me.
simi from TnS: Neither I have - I do leave a link and try and make it as visually appealing - since it is a purely visual media
Marc H.: By the way, we're almost out of time, so I'm going to skip Instagram and LinkedIn and just briefly look at Google+.
simi from TnS: look and pin most times but some photography tools/lesson think and pin
Marc H.: All right, Google+. Do you use it?
Marc H.: nope
simi from TnS: 19
Marc H.: I feel like Google came late to the game and as a result, the site is very dull and dry, but some people do very well with it.
lisa: trying to, it help with google searches
Cindy Anschutz: I just started using google+
Jim Love: nope
lisa: agreed, so frustrating!
Jennifer @1840Farm: I don't use Google+
simi from TnS: me too, am on the fence - to start or not to
Marc H.: Ohhh, my mind is slipping. Who in the CCN has over 200,000 followers on Google+? I really would like to talk with her about that.
Jennifer @1840Farm: Do tell!
simi from TnS: WOW 200,000
Marc H.: Lisa, is that you who has all those followers?
lisa: No, i have 10 :)
Marc H.: Oh, ha ha! Sorry, wrong Lisa. I got it--Creole Contessa. She has more than 200k.
Jennifer @1840Farm: Who is this urban legend?
lisa: I just started on google +
Marc H.: I only have about 800 on Google+, which is much less than any of my other pages, but I'm active on the site, which makes it particularly frustrating.
Marc H.: Oh well, maybe we can all do a chat on Google+ when Lisa from CC is around.
lisa: when i look at her google + it says 10 people in circles
Marc H.: You're right--I guess it wasn't her. Hmmmm, well, our time is up but I'll hunt around and try to find out who it is.
Marc H.: I wish we had more time to talk about all this, but I think this was very helpful! Thanks, all, for participating.
simi from TnS: Thxs for hosting
Jim Love: Yes. Thanks!
Beth Lee: Sorry - late to the party - had a last minute meeting at my daughter's school. Waving hello from San Jose
Marc H.: Doh!! Well, we'll try to get another chat going soon, Beth!
lisa: thanks! Sorry I was late :(
Jennifer @1840Farm: Thanks so much for hosting. As always, the time flew by and I learned a lot by being a part of your discussion.
simi from TnS: Thank you for the great tips everyone !
Beth Lee: Looks like it was a great convo - I'll look forward to the next one