Once you have launched your new business, created a website, and maybe even a blog you still have to get people to actually visit your site. It’s not as easy as if you build it they will come. There are thousands of culinary related websites out there and you not only have to give potential customers and readers a reason to come to yours, you have to make sure that they know where to find you.
There are a number of social media sites and it’s important that you know how to use each one effectively to engage your potential customers.
Creating a Facebook page for your culinary business is an important first step. This is where you will engage with your readers on a more personal level than on your blog or website. You’ll want to update it a couple of times a day with recipes, images, comments, or interesting information about what you are doing. You might think that your life is boring but engaging people is about letting them know you. Post a picture of your dog, or your favorite rose bush, or whatever.
When you are running a special, or have created a new blog post take a minute to create a status with a link. Promote yourself with restraint on all of the social media sites.
Twitter lets you micro blog your life in 180 characters or less. What are you creating in your kitchen? What’s your favorite new restaurant? What are you eating for lunch? Keep your statuses (or tweets as they are called) mostly food related.
You will want to follow people who have the same interests as you do. They will usually follow you back and your brand will get a boost.
Google Plus is similar to Facebook but with the power of Google behind it. One of the perks of using Google Plus is that the Google search engines will pick it up and create a link.
Pinterest allows you to create bulletin boards where you can “pin” images that you find on the Internet. The images are linked to the original page so when someone clicks it they are taken to that page. You will want to make several boards and update them often. You can post your own images with links to your pages but you shouldn’t do so exclusively. If you have a cake decorating business then you will want to pin images of gorgeous cakes from all over the Internet.
Foursquare lets you check in where ever you are. You can let your friends know what you are doing all the time.
Yelp is an especially good social networking site for food related networking. You can leave comments and reviews about various places that you visit including restaurants, museums, and shopping centers. As people follow you on yelp they learn to trust your opinions.
TasteSpotting, Food Gawker, Dessert Stalking
These are all sites where you upload food images that you have taken. If they are approved then the image goes up along with a link to your site. You can get a lot of exposure on these specialty sites.
Stumbled Upon is a site that is sort of like Pinterest but instead of pinning images you leave a trail of the sites you like. You will need a special tool bar that you can download. Once you have that you just surf the Net and click the thumbs up for the sites you like, and the thumbs down for the sites you don’t. This site frowns upon promoting your own stuff but generally when you promote things that you like others will promote your things as well.
Foodie is a site by Glam Media that is for people in food related business whether it is a bakery or blog. You can find recipes, chat with other people, network, and build relationships.
LinkedIn is a networking site. Using it regularly will allow you to have a large network of people in all walks of life that can help you get ahead in your career. They can introduce you to other people that may be able to help you at one time or another.
It will also create a place where potential clients can read about you and your business.
While blogs aren’t specifically social media they are one way to interact with people and get them interested in you and your business. Take time every day to read a few blogs, leave thoughtful comments, and link to your blog. Bloggers will often visit your blog and a relationship will have begun. When I first started my own blog after several years working for a network I wasn’t sure how to build my traffic back up to the amount it had been. I was talking to a blogger I had known for a while who had a huge following on her Facebook page and mentioned that I was trying to rebuild. She posted a status on her page with a link to mine and within hours I had several hundred Facebook fans. It only takes the right person to notice you and tell their readers for you to gain respect and traffic.
Once you get your social media sites up and running be consistent about posting. You don’t have to post every hour but try for one status on most sites every day. Some sites, like Yelp and LinkedIn, will not need to be updated daily – do what seems best on these sites. Yes, it will take time but it will also bring great rewards in the form of increased traffic and brand awareness.