When I went to the theater to see the movie Chef last weekend, I expected a quirky independent comedy with a lot of delicious cooking scenes. And I wasn’t disappointed. But what I didn’t predict is a subplot about the power of social media and how it helps small businesses. It’s a movie about marketing!
In case you’re not familiar with the film, Chef is about a Los Angeles celebrity chef, Carl Casper, (Jon Favreau) who gets in a public Twitter feud with a food critic and loses his job. He decides to start a food truck with the help of his son and a former co-worker.
The trio finds their footing in the food truck biz by taking a culinary road trip across the South, and this is where the marketing kicks in. Carl’s 11-year-old son Percy starts tweeting – using his dad’s Twitter handle (which has tens of thousands of followers thanks to the feud with the food critic) – about their itinerary. And he creates a Facebook page that is quickly filled with road trip and food photos. They’re greeted with long lines in each city and the movie does a great job visually of showing how social media helps generate new customers. The folks waiting in line start typing on their smartphones, and Twitter graphics appear like thought bubbles over their heads as they write tweets about the food truck. Once the customers press “tweet,” the tweets turn into a flock of Twitter birds that fly off to spread their messages to the followers of each person in the line.
Boom. Social visibility and word of mouth marketing.
I know it’s a movie, and in an ideal word, every single customer would tweet about their favorite businesses like the people in the food truck lines. And every business would send out interesting, relevant messages to their followers and be greeted with lines around the block.
But don’t ignore the reality here. Social media does work. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be visible and use social media as an extension of who you are and what you do. If you have the right amount of personality and engaging content, you can connect with customers who will spread the word about you to their networks and attract new customers.