Food and beverage professionals are great at following recipes. If only there were a clearly written, easy-to-understand recipe for how and when to use social media to promote their businesses, they’d be able to step up to the challenge with gusto. But it’s a murky world out there on social media, and it’s hard to know how to find and convince the influencers who can build your positive reputation and support your business’ credibility with the people who matter.
Learn more at Under the Influence!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, confused, and maybe just a little bit fed up with the effort it takes to pursue online recognition, you’re not alone. Many of us are too busy running our businesses to remember to keep up a regular schedule of social posting. Happily, help is on the way. Under the Influence! is a Catersource session led by Aleya Harris, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef who is also a data-driven marketing strategist, change leader, brand manager, and creator.
She’ll be leading this practical, hands on session to help you understand what a food influencer is and how the influencer model works (and doesn’t work!). Even better, she’ll be sharing concrete ways to put the influencer model to work for you on Instagram. And she’ll discuss a real-life case study of an F&B professional who stepped up the social game and saw positive, quantifiable business results.
“During this session, I’ll be showing you five key strategies to implement right away,” Harris says. “These strategies will help you change the way you convert website and social media visitors into customers. It’s easier than you think to influence the buying choices of thousands of eaters, from what they eat to where they eat and who they eat with, and I’ll be showing you how to make that happen.”
If you’ve been beating yourself up because you spend all your time in the kitchen and no time doing business-building on social media, Harris says that it’s a common issue for folks throughout the industry. In her consultancy, she recently worked with a top-level private chef, a world culinary champion, who had cooked for many celebrities, including Will Smith. “But when you look at his social feed, it’s not at all clear what he even does for a living,” she says. Working with Harris, the chef upped his social game and improved his visibility.
The catering + events show of the year is back! James Beard Award winners, TED style keynotes, influencers galore, and food for days. See all that’s in store here!
Big ego not required
Harris says that while the “big ego” stereotype is often considered to be part of the being high-powered chef, she finds instead that most of her clients err on the side of humility—too much humility, she says. But it’s okay—she has a plan to help.
“We have for proven techniques to help those who feel uncomfortable with promoting themselves and their business. Social media isn’t going to go away, so you really should get some sound advice on how to leverage it effectively, and, more importantly, how to use it to get more business.”
One common misconception she encounters is the feeling that you need to be someone you’re not when on social media. “It’s actually the opposite, because being authentic is the best way to build a business,” she says. “The younger generation wants to live and speak truth at every touchpoint, and they seek out businesses with whom they can feel an affinity toward.”
Harris’ own experience provides a lovely combination of skills that can help food and beverage professionals improve their social media presence. She attended the University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business, where she earned a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on Global Marketing.
“After graduation, I worked in the fashion industry, but it wasn’t speaking to me. I got laid off and was having trouble finding a job. One of my sorority sisters had come over to eat my cooking—like always!—suggested l go to culinary school. I followed her advice and found that I loved it there. I opened up a catering company while I was still in school and became a private chef even before graduation.”
She has continued to combine her interest in the culinary profession with her skill set in business, including a stint building Google’s food program. With her consulting business, she helps food professionals find the confidence, strategy, and consistency to achieve social media success.
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Understand the why
“It’s important to set goals,” she says. “You need to understand the numerical goal you’re trying to hit, but you also need to dig deep and understand the WHY behind that goal. Do you want to increase your sales so you can afford to take your family on vacation, or to allow your spouse to quit their second job? Understanding the ‘why’ helps you stay on task with your plan.”