As customers flock to Facebook and foodservice professionals explore the restaurateur social networking site, FohBoh.com, marketers are utilizing viral strategies to reach their desired audiences. Foodservice marketing Goliath, NOBLE, recently extended its Food Channel Web site and created a free online application that tracks industry trends and updates automatically as stories are posted to The Food Channel.
Widgets are chucks of computer code that are used by Web sites to provide live content from a third party without the user having to update. As blogging and social networking grow in popularity, widgets have become more widespread on the Internet.
The Food Channel’s Editor-in-Chief, Kay Logsdon, says the site created the widget to make it easier for people to access food trends quickly. “At the end of the day, everyone is a consumer,” she says, “this appeals to the homemaker, the professional chef, the food educator, the restaurateur, the manufacturer, ad infinitum—anyone who is looking for new ideas.”
The application is a small box featuring nine round buttons, which display different content when users scroll over them. According to Logsdon, at least one of the buttons is updated each day, offering users timely information about “new gadgets, innovative ideas, and unusual food pairings.” Noble’s CultureWaves team and Food Channel group look for trends to be featured on the widget. “As we began to realize that we had all this data,” Logsdon says, “we began to look for new ways to push it out to more people. Voila, the widget.”
So far, the widget is being used by a regional publication with a network of 90 magazines, but Logsdon predicts it will be popular with food bloggers, social networks, and Web sites about food as well. The group is working to create an additional widget that offers recipes, which is probably a smart move considering “recipes” has been the No. 1 food & drink term searched on the Internet since 2004, according to Google.
In addition, Noble’s Food Channel is also planning to offer customizable widgets for clients about any subject , “thanks to our ability to feed the information from our insights group,” Logsdon says.