By Jason Stemm @NYCubsFan
I’ve been on Google+ for over a month now. I was intrigued when people like Chris Brogan and Robert Scoble made the switch. As they quickly discovered, it offers great opportunities for sharing and discussion. I have found slower adoption in the food niche. Access is still limited, and many that are active on it now are in tech and social media, but as the network opens up and enhancements are made, the potential for foodies to connect is tremendous.
Already, people are using hangouts to conduct cooking schools. The limit to 10 participants is a downside. If that is expanded, or larger group sizes offered at a cost by Google, chefs, bloggers and food companies will have direct access and engagement with customers in their home. Imagine the potential for education and product introduction.
Lee Allison, an IT guy by day, has always had a passion for cooking. He enjoys the social aspect of not only eating, but also preparing a meal, and is starting to push those size limitations with his G+ Cooking School. He and Eric McKee started early, creating a simple calendar with meal themes. A shopping list is posted beforehand enabling people to cook along in their own kitchen, ask questions and share experiences and tips. After recent attention from the New York Times and Guy Kawasaki, he tried to accommodate additional participants through HangOutParty.com. It is a new, non-Google site that allowed another 15-17 people to watch along and chat through IM. No indication how many people it can handle, but there were some technical glitches as I watched them prepare gnocchi last night. To stay ahead of demand, they have launched The Social Skillet, with the first class on Hand-rolled Portobello Ravioli scheduled for Monday evening. For those that miss a class, videos are recorded and available online for playback.
I joined one hangout lead by Danielle Gould of Food + Tech Connect that included Mike Lee who is also using Hangouts to lead cooking classes, and a G+ developer leveraging the network to crowd source information as he develops a business model to connect local food producers with customers. This taps into one of the networks best features, the ability to discuss and collaborate. A simple technique I learned from one of my circles for setting up a poll is to pose the question and provide options in the reply. People can then use the +1 button to register their choice.
Food communicators are not yet prevalent on Google+, with low activity from established voices that only appear to have created an account. I believe there is the potential for that to change, but the jury is still out on Google+ and its potential in the long run. It is interesting that no one is in more people’s circles than Mark Zuckerberg. Perhaps he agrees with others who see Google+ as a greater threat to Skype than Facebook. Tom Anderson, everyone’s first friend on MySpace, is also widely followed and feels his creativity has been rejuvenated by the platform.
Right now, I am monitoring and learning the network. As access and features are expanded, I am excited to see where it is headed. When the critical mass is there, we will be ready to guide and establish our clients in the space. Whether hosting cooking hangouts from our in-house test kitchen, or taking advantage of features that are yet to be launched, we aren’t looking to just chase the next shiny object, but ensure we don’t miss the boat or are late to the hangout.
Photo from Simply Recipes