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Crowd Sourcing Dinner: A Lesson in Social Media

February 9, 2011

I have to admit I’m an unimaginative cook. I’m a very creative girl, but by the time I get to putting dinner on the table my muses are zapped. I have a repertoire of cooking techniques to draw upon and I’ve watched oodles of cooking shows, but when I look in the fridge all I can see is spaghetti or some other tasty, but boring stand-by.

So, after our Super Bowl Ad Watching Party, which featured a feast of dips, we had a lot of beautifully cut veggies ready for eating. I stared at that pile of broccoli, red peppers, green peppers, yellow peppers and carrots with no inspiration. I’m terrible. All I could think of was eating them with more dip. LAME! I know!

Then I turned to my community on Twitter and Facebook.

And the ideas poured in:

Visions of dinner quickly sprung to life. Soups pureed with a touch of cream, colorful stir fries, steaming veggie chowders, roasted to perfection vittles. Literally within minutes I knew what I was making for dinner, all thanks to my social network.

The lessons learned here are broad and applicable to any social media strategy:

  • Love Your Friends – I regularly feed my community of friends with “Likes”, retweets and conversations.  I do this because these are my friends, but also because you have to nurture social media relationships. We have to be present and active to participate in people’s lives. This goes for nonprofits and businesses, too. Be present, make conversation. There is no reason to be in an ivory tower or play games on social media. Get in the soup. Get to know your followers, this will only help you in the long run.
  • Ask for Help – When you need help ask for it. Those veggies were doomed to another boring dinner, but in the hands of my social network they turned into something magical. Asking for help big and small is a wonderful way to engage your audience. Have them help you pick  the menu for the next fundraiser or let your followers price a new item.
  • Do Something Unexpected – This is the first time I’ve crowd sourced my dinner and I was a pleasantly surprised to see how well my network responded. If your nonprofit or small business is in a rut, try something different. Collect photos from your followers in a Flickr Pool, give the next social media friend who walks through your doors a discount, or set-up a coffee to meet your favorite fans IRL.

At this point, I think we’re at a social media saturation point. All the people who are going to join social media are here. I don’t forecast big jumps in fan and follower numbers in the next year. 2011 will be about how to activate your followers and how to keep them interested. Come up with creative and low-cost ways to make them feel special and part of your organization.

And, the most important part of this post, what did I make for dinner? I used the carrots, yellow and red pepper to make a pureed soup with a touch of milk (I got to use my immersion blender – bonus points!).

I then used the broccoli and green bell pepper to make a garlic-y chicken stir-fry.

This is what social media is all about. It’s about people with common problems who want to interact. Being a real person on social media is going to be critically important in 2011. Keep it real, keep it fun and you will succeed.

Oh and what are you making for dinner?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2011 10:22 pm

    I like your post! I try to crowd source things, being generally indecisive. But my network isn’t always terribly responsive. Perhaps I need to ask different questions. 🙂

    However lately I have gotten responses from Bots.. which is annoying.

    • February 16, 2011 10:01 pm

      Yeah crowdsourcing is hit or miss for sure. It’s about asking good questions and timing of the day for sure. I have suspicions that people were just hungry.


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