The Notable Chef – How to Stand Out Using Digital Media

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I’ll be at the Western Food Show in Los Angeles  on Monday of this week, in honor of that amazing industry, I’m doing a series this week on food-related movements, personalities and startups. Tweet me if you’re there

Like every other career choice, choosing to be a Chef doesn’t guarantee fame and fortune.
But unlike every other career choice, the world has a natural intrigue with Chef’s.
Long before TopChef and Food Blogs and Yelp, I lived with a Chef. The minute people found out about it, their eyes flew open and there jaws began to wag with questions.
“Do you eat a gourmet dinner every night?”
Um. No. He’s working at dinner time and when he comes home, around 2am, he isn’t generally interested in doing what’s he’s been doing the last 12 hours.
“Does he teach you how to cook?”
Well, I certainly learned a lot about food being around a Chef, but the process of becoming a Chef doesn’t really happen by osmosis.

The point is, people are fascinated by Chefs.

If you’re a Chef, you can use this to your advantage. Whether you’d prefer to stay employed at other restaurants or want to strike out on your own, having a digital brand makes you more attractive to employers and investors. Let’s face it, the restaurant biz is super risky, if you can eliminate some of that risk, aren’t you at a distinct advantage?

You’re probably thinking “Being a Chef is a full-time job, I don’t have time to become a brand.”
I understand that concern, but, if you’ll hear me out, here are three things you can do easily to extend your brand.

First, know this:

It doesn’t have to be a major time suck.
You can use Instagram, SnapChat, whatever tool you use, to share tiny tidbits of inspiration with us. You can go total stream of consciousness.
Don’t worry about imperfections-you’re a Chef, not a digital graphic designer.
You’re a human, not a multi-national brand (yet).
Take advantage of your humanity and capitalize on it while you can.

Use Your Natural Talents

As a Chef, you probably already have a flair for the artistic. You probably see ideas everywhere you go, you’re probably creating inspired dishes in your head all.the.time.
You’re experience doesn’t have to be “just” about food. What’s the weather like when you leave work? Is the moon particularly spectacular right now? Take your “down” moments and turn them into “sharing” moments.
That’s awesome, take us on that journey. If you see a flower and the color inspires you to use a particular food in your dishes, tell us about it.
We just want to see the life of a Chef. We just want a small amount of inspiration of our own.

Tell The Story

I never met a Chef that didn’t have a story. Weave your story into your inspirations and tell us about them.
You can take selfies if you want, use pictures from your past…show us side by sides of what the inspiration was, and what it became in your interpretation.
Everything you can do to personalize your food allows people to relate to you better…and when people relate to you better, your food becomes even more amazing.
Take pictures of other people who eat your food, let us see ourselves in their spots.
And while you’re telling your story, invite others to share theirs. Let them know you’re curious about them too.

The Daily Grind

What you see as everyday “stuff” other people might be fascinated by.
Chopping onions? Stand that phone up and let us see your technique, you can talk us through it or not. It’s :30 seconds of amazing for those of us with pathetic knife skills.
Picking out produce? Share your secrets with us. What makes a good watermelon? How do you know when a mango is perfectly ripe?
We’re endlessly interested in how your everyday knowledge can work in our world.

Start a Movement

Some Chefs transcend the kitchen by starting movements. Jamie Oliver is an awesome example of this. You don’t have to have your own restaurant or TV show to start a movement.
Digital media is the great equalizer.
Tell us what you stand for and own it. Be a passionate advocate for something you’re passionate about.
Talk about it, weave it into your tiny tidbits.
Standing for something makes you stand out, but it also gives people a view of who you are and gives them a reason to be passionate about you.

If you’re a chef on social media, I’d love to follow YOUR journey. Hit me up on Twitter or Instagram so I can follow along.

 

Why You Love to Hate The Kardashians – Social Media Strategy Gone Awry

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Are you done yet?
If you’re like most of the media and most of America you’ve had it with the Kardashians.
We’ve moved past not caring and into outrage.

But how did this happen?
We can look to the Kardashian social media strategy for part of the story.

How did the Kardashians go from being little known D-listers with Instagram and Twitter accounts to being the most hated family in America?
I mean, it started off innocent enough, a group of spoiled beautiful girls with a notorious last name, living the day-to-day drama of having too much of everything.
It’s the kind of thing America watches, sometimes to feel morally superior, sometimes with an aspirational sigh.
And the girls were social media mavens.
They WORKED Instagram.
They LIVED on Twitter.
Snippets of their daily lives seeped into our consciousness one tweet and pic at a time.

But the Kardashians crossed several lines, specifically Kim Kardashian, who has turned pop-culture fascination into outrage and disgust.
Here’s where they went wrong:

The Line Between Transparency and Pathology

In the beginning, Instagram and Twitter followers loved how the girls lived their lives shamelessly out loud.
Their family feuds and heartaches on display for all to see.
We loved that curvy Kim and Khloe owned their curves proudly.
We even endured the occasional well-placed stunt by them and their family members.
The personalities turned into personas.
We like personas it allows us to put people in neat little categorical boxes.
It gives us context.
Personas aren’t terrible. Actually, from a branding perspective, they can be quite fantastic.
So even though their celebrity sky rocketed, their personas kept them “real.”
We DID like to see them at some exotic beach, we did like seeing their pretty selfies…until the selfies became over-orchestrated photo shoots.
But the Kardashians forgot something: they were interesting when we could relate to them, or at least identify on an aspiration level.

And this is where they REALLY went wrong:

the Kardashians never missed a chance to put distance between themselves and their followers, in an effort to show how special they really are.
We went from relating to them as they journeyed through life to feeling more and more like they were nothing like us.
Most of America would never marry a celebrity for the media bump, and it isn’t even something most of America aspires to.
Most of America doesn’t make the extreme personal journey of their family members about them.
And now there’s today’s pregnant photo of Kim.

We’re now at the point where the transparency has turned into pathological and pathetic.
With this photo, Kim has managed to make the beautiful, sad.

From Mysterious to Saturated

A well placed nude photo or leaked video (eh, em, Kim) can actually be GOOD for a celeb.
Really good.
But when you start to see nude (or nearly nude) photos of a celeb several times a year, it’s no longer exciting, titillating or even interesting.
Three times this year already we’ve seen Kim nude.
Here: Feb 2015
Here: May 2015
and…
Here: July 2015

I mean, is there no end in sight?
Now, not only are you pathetic, you’re worse: you’re common.
You’re the OPPOSITE of special.
You’re now just another naked person – just like the one we see in the mirror everyday.
Nothing special about pathetic and naked. Nothing aspirational about that. At. All.
Even nude models and porn stars know better than to show up naked on Instagram everyday.
Why?
Because mystery is a good thing.
Leave a little bit on the table.
Let ’em wonder just.a.little.bit.

It’s not just the whole naked thing.
We started to get the sense that the Kardashians never said no to anything that might make them money.
From fashion brands to tell-all interviews.
From appearances to marriages.
If you had dollars, the Kardashians would be there to hoover it up.

Standing For…..Shallow and Surface?

And through all this, America begins to wonder, “What DO the Kardashians stand for?”
I mean, besides makeup, hair extensions and designer brands and boyfriends?
We’re left wondering if they are really as shallow as all that.
Do they lend their voices to causes that might make them more human?
Do they use their celebrity to advance a passion that might make the world a better place?
What little they apparently DO do for charity seems opportunistic and self aggrandizing.
Even Donald Trump, who Kim had to one-up with her naked photo today, has a cause.
You might not agree with Donald Trump, but at least he stands for something besides money and wrap-arounds.
We can’t defend the Kardashians anymore because we can’t even justify their celebrity anymore.

And so begins the downward slide of some of the earliest and most prolific social media celebrities.
We should thank the Kardashians for their lessons in personal branding, except they’d probably charge us for it.