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Food Network and the Internet Part Two: Social Networking Sites
Thursday, December 27, 2007 | posted by Mike

Welcome to part two of a three four part series: Food Network and the Internet...a short and (hopefully) not too wonky look at how the Food Network's current and possible future online strategies. Today's part will focus on social networking. The good news is that, as I promised yesterday, this post is shorter. The bad news is that it's shorter because I had to cut it in half. Look for part two (about blogging) later tonight. In case you missed it, check out part one.

Web 2.0. Consumer-Generated Content. Emerging Media.

Whatever you want to call it, it has become the holy grail of marketing and communications for corporations, media outlets and anyone wanting to generate positive buzz. Whether you’re talking about bloggers, social networking sites like My Space and Facebook or the multitude of online bookmarking services like Digg and del.icio.us, companies are spending considerable time and money thinking about, planning for and (slowly) wading into the deep end and becoming a player in a landscape for which the rules are still being written.

Some would have you believe that there is some magic bullet strategy, but the fact of the matter is that many of the same old rules apply. Most importantly, content is still king, and whoever provides the most compelling, consistent and original content – regardless of its format – will be able to use these new delivery methods to engage viewers even more closely than ever before. Those who don’t “get it” will be at a decided disadvantage when compared to competitors and run the risk of having their existing audience leave them behind.

The good news for the Food Network is that, although they’re not at the forefront of this movement, they have made some smart moves in the right direction. Besides…in this game, being at the forefront usually means you’re out there wasting money and showing everyone else how not to do it.

By now, we’re all well aware of the growing use of these tools. Who is using them? You are, of course. You’re here getting your information about a topic from someone who possesses a blog account, some motivation and (hopefully) an interesting point of view. This is as “consumer-generated” as it gets.

The most headline-grabbing aspect of this new media has been the social networking sites. Although these sites usually skew younger than the typical Food Network viewer, FN was able to take advantage of the My Space platform as a way to introduce the contestants from last season’s Next Food Network Star. The pages were well-produced, with extra photos and contestant-authored journal entries. You could go there and “friend” the contestants. As you would expect, the best pages were the ones that provided the most compelling content. Content is King.

My Space was an interesting choice for Food Network. It typically attracts a younger crowd than Facebook (of which I’m a member, and with which I’m much more familiar). But it has two advantages that Facebook and other social media sites lack. First, it’s seen as the service of choice for media outlets, particularly bands that want to get their music out. Second, it is an open profile page, and anyone (even non-members) can browse to the pages. I’m not privy to the internal numbers, but I’d say that from an outsider’s vantage point, it was a success. By relying on an existing service, choosing the most open option and then promoting the heck out of the pages, they were nicely able to integrate their communication and promotional efforts.



Hi, I'm Mike and I created TVFoodFan.com as a place where you can come to get the latest news and views about what’s going on in the world of culinary television.

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