October 11, 2009

Food Bloggers: new force in restaurant land! Local food bloggers and tweeters reacted with scorn to a statement by Masterchef celeb. George Calombaris: 'Bloggers have no idea about restaurants. They've got no idea how they're run.' Maybe they don't have a company gold card to pay for review dinners, but don't overlook the passion, knowledge and number of participants in this food army. Here's a list of more than 500 Australian Food Blogs, and this is a country of only 21 million people. Have keyboard and broadband - you're in business. Instead of black & white newspaper text, most feature gorgeous photography and lengthy analysis - these are no novices, and some make it a full-time job. Professional restaurant reviewers have always guided us from on high, but here is their audience acting like an opinionated, hungry rabble! If you're visiting a big city like Sydney - do you pay $29.95 for the official guide, or dive into joyful (and free) blogs like GrabYour Fork or Not Quite Nigella or the yummy Lemon Pi? Restaurateurs (like George above) are just coming to terms with free-flowing online review sites, Google Alerts and email. Now they're besieged by amateur bloggers and the twitterati - people who don't know the meaning of 'Yes Chef!' Stand by for more sweet and bitter episodes as the decline of old media (and rise of the new) is played out in the world of food. My stomach says it's a great idea! Update: here's Jen's list of the Top 50 Aussie Food Blogs...and Mr Calombaris is still not happy!
How the new 'Pyramid of Influence' enables more effective marketing As busy operators, how many decision makers and opinion leaders can we reach? The video below shows 4 groups: a wide range of consumers at the bottom of the pyramid, then pro-sumers further up (still numerous), then amateur influencers and finally at the top, the brand journalists. These last are the small handful of reviewers or magazine writers who we've traditionally been desperate to reach, hoping for a 'once in a lifetime' review or mention. Or we ensure their attention with enough money so an 'advertorial' looks our way. We're always reaching out to consumers, through advertising, promotions, email, and good service to keep them coming back. But now we there are two other groups that influence public opinion and 5 years ago they hardly existed. Pro-sumers are, in the case of hospitality, the people who eat or drink out a lot, or travel frequently, and like to share their opinions on review sites eg TripAdvisor, Yelp or Eatability. Not just once when they had a bad experience, but regularly: they feel a duty to share or boast about good (and bad) finds. They may also join relevant Facebook Groups or Pages eg one for Best Eats in your city. Coffee fanatics, craft beer and chocolate fans are other examples. As operators we can influence them by joining discussions on websites, posting comments on blogs, responding to reviews and joining Facebook groups. Higher up the chain (just below, and sometimes resented by journalists) are the amateur influencers who work hard on their specialist blogs or websites, reviewing and gathering information. Some of them leverage their appeal to run banner ads and Google Adwords to make a reasonable income. They reach out through Twitter and newsletters, and are increasing sought by PR groups for product or venue launches. How many amateur...

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