TECHmunch closed September in New York City, with a conference to inspire culinary content creators. The fast-paced day featured practical talks on the latest tools and tactics to take your business to the next level by creating great content, building buzz, working with brands, growing an audience, and profiting from their hard work.
TECHmunch was launched in 2010 by Babette Papaj and is part of the BakeSpace, Inc. family of sites. Babette’s experience of launching BakeSpace as the first food social network and growing it to become one of the largest food sites on the web, inspired her to share the lessons learned with other online publishers. BakeSpace earned consecutive Webby Award nominations in 2009 and 2010 in the ultra-competitive “Best Social Networking” category.
Every meal has a story with an emotional connection. No surprise then that food media is a high growth, fast-changing world full of evolving opportunities. Shareablee CEO, Tania Yuki, shared that food bloggers posted 600,000 content pieces on social media, generating 59 million shares in 2016 alone. Financial Times reported, 23 billion views of food videos online in 2015 with 70% of that audience in the coveted 18-34 age bracket.
With rapidly emerging advertising platforms, contracting budgets, and diminishing attention spans, a fundamental shift is occurring in how bloggers function. Independent and mainstream media find themselves competing with technology platform publishers like Google, Facebook, and Amazon.
The traditional model of driving audience to content is being turned upside down. Instead publishers need to reach audiences and deliver in-context content to them. Community driven publishers will survive, predicts J. M. Hirsch, Editorial Director at Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Kitchen.
The transformation is exciting. Today’s bloggers are building tomorrow’s brands. There are two parallel paths that will converge into this incredible opportunity. Bloggers need to master content creation and build communities. Content is created around your story and audience. Be authentic, be personal, and be brief.
There is a distinct difference between an audience and a community. An audience consumes content with little interaction. An audience is usually incentivized and exists with the brand. A community consumes and interacts with content. A community stands apart from the content and tends to outlast the brand.
A community interacts in an ongoing, two-way conversation with your story. A community stays connected across the online and offline space. The community of panelists at TECHmunch shared their proven best practices for realizing success in developing content and community strategy.
Content Creation: Reaching your audience is an important part of a content strategy. In today’s noisy world, audiences tend to be segmented across traditional, social, and mobile channels. The priority is to design content to be shared and drive engagement.
- Know your audience, their interests, and their passions; fill a need
- Experiment together to create relevant content; add value
- Adapt content to each channel while maintaining consistency
- Use spontaneous and dynamic (video, visual) content; be sincere
- Use advanced SEO techniques to optimize content and help discoverability; search is the first step in the purchase funnel for 80% of buyers
Community Creation: Creating an engaged community and growing your business takes time. Consider all available channels strategically. Embrace a channel only if you can genuinely engage with your community and nurture relationships. Find effective ways to measure and guide interaction such as comments, and shares but don’t obsess.
- Self-publishing is a brand builder; self-publishing platforms make publishing an affordable option
- Collaborative podcasts allow communities to contribute and interact; anyone can do it with minimal investment
- Don’t under estimate the potential of email; email remains a high long term value channel with 4.3 billion device and generation agnostic email accounts expected by the end of 2016
- Expect influence to grow with maturity; be patient
- Consider monetizing your influence by working with brands as an advocate; but only if there is fit to brand
Image Credit: CC by John Mason