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Recipe for success: why running social media campaigns is like hosting a great dinner party

19 February, 2014
courtesy of

courtesy of

Those of you who know me will know that there are two main passions in my life (besides SEO, website development and social media, of course): one is my family and friends; and the other is food.

I spoke about my passion for food in a recent Yorkshire Post feature:

“My passion is food. I love it, not just the eating of it, but everything that goes into making a good meal. From planning the menu to the preparation to the cooking, the more creative I can be, the better. It all stems from my childhood as part of a close-knit Jewish family in Liverpool.

Every week, my mum, dad, two sisters and myself would descend upon my grandma’s house along with aunts, uncles and cousins for a traditional Friday night meal.

Those evenings form some of my fondest memories and have definitely shaped me as a person. I enjoy eating food but it’s not just the eating, it is the whole sense that it brings family and friends together.”


This connection between food and the social event has stayed with me, and I love to cook and host dinner parties for my own family and friends now.

So I hope you won’t think it is too much of a stretch for me to say that running successful social media campaigns is like hosting great dinner parties. Not convinced? Let me explain what I mean…

Content is Key

Serve up great content

If food is the content, and the family and friends you share it with are your online networks, it’s easy to see how putting together a great social media campaign is like planning a dinner party.

You think carefully about who want to invite, who would benefit from meeting whom, and how people will interact when they arrive. You plan ahead to check people’s food preferences and availability, just as you would research your online audiences and find out what content they are interested in, what conversations they are having – and plan your content strategy accordingly to meet their needs.

Which guests to invite?

People are invited (not coerced) into attendance – they have to want to come. Your dinner party should be scheduled for a time when all your guests can attend – at a time that is convenient for them.

The food you cook should be an honest reflection of your palette and skills, and (of course) what you know your guests will enjoy eating. It will take you time before the event to plan a menu and gather all the ingredients – everything should be ready prepared on the night.  Each course should be well timed and distributed.

Create a buzz

The food and your content should be visually stunning and appealing on the eye – so much so, that your guests want to share it, and talk about it with their friends after the event. And while some Michelin-starred chefs may disagree, I think people should want to be taking photographs and sharing them too! The best dinner parties (and social media campaigns) cause a bit of a stir and spark some gossip…

courtesy of the

courtesy of the

Complementary food and wine for a coordinated content and linkbuilding strategy

For each course, you select different food components and accompanying wine: complementary content on different aspects of your chosen topic, in a variety of formats, and backed up with a great linkbuilding strategy. (You know your selections here will say a lot about your taste). In addition, you choose the best crockery (platforms) on which to serve your food/content, and when you serve – you serve with flair!

The meal should be accompanied by entertainment and games – those added bits of frivolity and promote engagement and participation, and that elevate the evening from a simple eating experience to a fun and sociable one too.

Leave your guests happy and satisfied – but wanting to return

Everyone should leave satisfied, happy, and wanting to return again to your home soon – delighted with the food that they know you will cook for them, and impressed at your hosting skills.

You might even give them a parting gift – something to remember you by and a memento of the evening. And hopefully, they will call you up afterwards and ask for the odd recipe or secret ingredient. That’s when you know you’ve engaged them – and can probably follow up with a future event invitation (or enewsletter sign-up).

This is why I believe running a successful social media campaign is like hosting a great dinner party.

Both require you to have heart and connect with people.

A social media campaign is not all about the technology. Yes, you need a thorough understanding of how the technology and social media platforms work in order to deliver your campaign effectively. But it’s not enough to just blindly follow a recipe: you need to know really understand your guests, know what they think is tasty, understand their culture, and meet their needs.

And you should do all of this with a passion that shows you absolutely love what you do, and really value their company.

Jonny Ross YP

Here are two of my favourite childhood-inspired recipes (BBC versions):

And here are some ideas and inspiration for running great social media campaigns:

For more social media recipes for success, sign up to receive my weekly blog delivered directly to your inbox: the perfect Wednesday night take-away!

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