Has anyone seen the film Chef? Aside from being a fun, uplifting and generally brilliant film (I rated it a 9/10 on IMDb – which is the highest rating I ever give a film), it’s also a perfect example of a top-notch social media strategy.
In the film, Jon Favreau plays Carl Casper, a Los Angeles chef whose career has gone through boom and bust. Without wanting to give too much away, he ends up running a food truck, along the way giving food lovers (like me) plenty to drool over. But the culinary stuff is just a side dish (ahem). At its core, Chef is the story of a man whose life is ruined and then redeemed by social media.
The hero of the film is Carl’s 10-year-old son, Percy. As well as helping his dad to deal with personal issues surrounding his ex-wife and her ex-husband, he helps his dad’s new business skyrocket to stardom. He does this with nothing more than an iPhone plus a typical 10-year-old’s knowledge of social media – that is, scarily more knowledge about social media than that of anybody double his age or above. His efforts pay off in a big way and at each of their stops the food truck is greeted by throngs of excited customers, all of whom found out about the food truck through social media.
Of course, to Percy, his efforts are not part of a ‘social media strategy’, they’re simply what he does because, well, that’s what 10 year olds do these days. But that’s the beauty of it – Percy sees the world of social media through the eyes of somebody who has grown up surrounded by it, and that means that he intuitively understands it. He has a wonderfully innocent and genuine view of the best ways to use social media. Perhaps if we applied the same principles we might just do a better job at promoting our own businesses.
There are some quick and simple lessons we can learn from Percy’s social media strategy:
- Post everything. Percy posts everything that happens throughout the day. There’s nothing too uninteresting or ‘not professional enough’ that happens on their journey that Percy doesn’t think wouldn’t make a good post.
- Post often. Percy posts constantly. When you live on social media, as he does, it makes sense to post there all of the time. This keeps customers compelled.
- Post everywhere. Percy doesn’t just tweet, or just post on Facebook, he posts everywhere. He posts videos to Vine, photos to Instagram, messages to Twitter and Facebook, and even compiles video stories with 1 Second Everyday. In this way, he achieves the maximum possible reach across all of these networks.
- Post with relevancy. Percy smartly geotags each of the tweets that he sends out, which let’s customers know exactly where the food truck is. By coupling this with a sense of urgency (‘get down here – we’re on Miami beach now!’) he crafts posts that are highly relevant to the business’s exact target market.
- Post with personality. By showing their personality as their brand, Percy builds a strong, organic following for the business. It’s a true success story with a lot of personality, plus a whole load of #FoodPorn – what’s not to love?
- Post your story. Perhaps the greatest strength of Percy’s social media strategy is that it has a clear and compelling story that creates a reason for people to stay engaged. This might be the hardest concept for some businesses to transfer to their own – but give it a go.
While Carl’s son gets (and deserves) most of the credit for the social media success, Chef Carl does get one thing right: he capitalises on events that have occurred and uses them to boost his business going forward. In the film, Carl accidentally gets into a public Twitter battle with a well known food critic. His reaction to the critic’s terrible review of his restaurant gets caught on video and immediately goes viral. In isolation this would have had a hugely negative effect on Carl’s reputation, but Carl and Percy turn it around, using the viral popularity to get the word out about the new business.
Percy’s social media strategy might not be perfect for every business, but I believe that the core concepts are highly transferable. Clearly, posting pictures of what you cooked for lunch isn’t going to work too well in B2B marketing; you need to tailor what you post to your own target audience. The most important thing is to create a social media strategy that works for your business. Step one is to decide on the end-goal of your social media strategy. This could be to generate more sales or enquiries. Once you have that goal, generate a strategy to make it happen. Try out some of the ideas above, test them to see what works and what doesn’t, and refine your strategy over time.
So why should you tweet like a 10 year old? Because 10 year olds are refreshingly optimistic and are willing to share their ideas. Most 10 year olds can’t wait to tell you what they have learned or experienced (unlike adults who hang on to their knowledge). They are willing to share their mistakes. Without Percy’s help, Chef Carl’s viral outburst would have been a mistake and nothing more, but Percy turns it into a huge positive that bootstraps the business’s social media following. We are most engaged when people are real, show some vulnerability and admit to screwing up in order that we can avoid the same pitfalls. Perhaps most importantly, 10 year olds make great storytellers. They are creative, make interesting connections and they leave in the details. Far too often we leave out the good stuff, the real life examples or observations that give a story life.
So try it – tweet like a 10 year old. With hard work and a bit of luck, you might just go as viral as #ElJefeFoodTruck.
Have you seen Chef? What did you think of it? And what do you think of Percy’s social media strategy – would the same strategy work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment below.