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How To Monetize Your Food Obsession

Career

According to Bon Appetit, tastemakers hold power in the form of social media accounts. You no longer have to be a well-established food critic to be treated like one; all you need is a camera of some sort and a social media following. Different tastemakers have different policies, as the realm of social media tastemakers is still very new.


Some people take advantage of this, while others don’t. Be the one who takes advantage, but don’t overdo it. In fact, a higher following doesn’t necessarily grant you better treatment or even access to the goods. Restaurant PR firms have become weary of the arrogant self-proclaimed Insta-famous divas, and they will opt for those with a more modest following (between 10k and 40k).

Code #1 in The Career Code, entitled Find Something You Love to Do, and Then Figure Out a Way to Get Paid for It” is arguably one of the more disputable codes in the book. What if what you love to do is illegal? What if it’s self-destructive? What if the amount you get paid for it isn’t enough? Hillary Kerr, herself, added a caveat to this code. She loves food, and her friends urge her to turn her love into something she could monetize – because she easily could – but she won’t. “I love food, but I don’t ever want to look at it from a work perspective.”

However, for those of you who who wouldn’t mind turning your lifestyle into a steady cash flow, keep reading. You, too, can join the ranks of New Fork City and The Infatuation. The best part is that people (like your mom) can no longer tell you to stop thinking about food because thinking about food all the time is your job now.

Your objective is to become a tastemaker or what 2016 refers to as an “influencer.” Put simply, “a tastemaker is anyone who can influence the way you eat.” According to David Sax, the tastemakersaved the deli.

The best part is that people can no longer tell you to stop thinking about food because thinking about food all the time is your job now.

That being said, the ones who act like divas do it because they know they can get away with it. Not only can tastemakers – particularly those on Instagram – save a business, but they can also help a business flourish. And restaurants know this – going so far as to hire architecture firms to design their spaces to achieve peak “Instagrammability.” Even I have an entire board on Pinterest filled with pictures of menu items from restaurants I want to try in New York City. All of them are pictures I pulled from tastemakers on Instagram. I had no intention of ever going to Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer or Emmy Squared until I saw pictures of the food on Instagram. That’s no coincidence.

But why stop at restaurants? “Each of these Instagrammers has amassed a group of loyal followers, often parlaying that success into cookbooks, TV shows and brand partnerships.” One ‘grammer turned her “Instagram pics into an e-commerce business that prints the photos onto phone cases, tote bags and stationary.”

You need to take an epic photograph. Go beyond epic, for good measure. You need to geotag. You need to hashtag. You need to tag(your sponsors).

Most importantly, do not to lose your footing as a tastemaker. You must be on top of the food trends. According to David Sax, “the most successful food trends reflect what’s going on in society at a given time.” If you see that juicing is in again, strike a sponsorship deal with Organic Avenue (before they die again). If there’s yet another national tragedy, make yourself available to the well-known comfort food brands and restaurants before anyone else does. Pay attention, and stay with the times.

Right now, it’s a culture, but it won’t be long before it’s a full-fledged industry. Strike while the iron is hot. Then, when it cools down, monetize another obsession.

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Politics

Do 2020 Presidential Candidates Still Have Rules to Play By?

Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.


When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.

2016: What rules?

Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.

Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.

And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.

And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?

Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.

Digital policies for 2020 and beyond

While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.

Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy

Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:

  • If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
  • While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
  • If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
  • Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
  • Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?

Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.

Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply

The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:

  1. Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
  2. Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
  3. Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
  4. Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
  5. Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
  6. Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
  7. Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
  8. Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.

Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles

Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.