- WEB STARTUPS
- WEB JOBS
- ALL TOPICS
If one food wasn’t enough, today Scripps Networks announces Food2. Scripps already runs the Food Network and RecipeZaar websites which as of a year ago controlled 25% of the food category online. Scripps describes Food2 as, “Food2 scours the planet as well as local fast food drive-ins for the tastiest, seductive, most shocking and satisfying bites in the world of food and drink. Along with an outspoken, eclectic slate of food bloggers, Food2 mixes up cocktails, beer & wine, foodie challenges, recipes, how to’s, food porn and pop culture with a bunch of other elements we aren’t at liberty to discuss.”
It looks like the site was built in Jooma and has a variety of content categories including videos, recipes, tips, and a blog. What’s really interesting is that (it appears) they have kept the “celebrity chefs” from the Food Network off the site.
The site is setup to target the people in the 21-34 age bracket and they have Facebook Connect, Twitter along with a Facebook account. I wonder which social media expert they hired to get that going :-P
Food2 offers a lot of good content but the look leaves me wishing they added more polish. It seems a bit unfinished and too loose. We will have to wait and see how Scripps promotes Food2 across their network of sites – with proper promotion the site should receive a strong initial lift – but will there be enough to get people to stay for the long-term, especially when their other food sites are so popular.
Start Cooking is a site that helps you learn how to cook the basics. The site is geared towards people who are new to cooking and offers videos, a blog and a large number of simple recipes (which many are really how-to’s). The site is run by Kathy Maister and is live since 2006 though it feels very current and up-to-date.
The videos are well presented and easy-to-understand. There is no directory or search so finding a video is a pain. Frankly I gave up after a few minutes of trying to see what else is available.
It could become a competitor to 5min and their how-to video library. This is certainly a very crowded category — Kathy needs to stick with the personal touch to differentiate from the others in the market. I don’t see any monetization on the site. This type of site is screaming for an affiliate partnership with a company offering cooking items. In fact, even if they decide not to monetize the site, it would be great to find out what pots and pans Kathy recommends for a newbie (i.e. non-stick, stainless steel, crock pot, etc.).
Here is an example of their videos – this one shows you how to crack an egg:
Scripps Networks has published some metrics from Nielsen Online today showing that they reach 25 percent of the Food & Cooking category meaning one in every four online users looking for food-related information came to one of the Scripps Networks sites. Most of the traffic goes to Food Network and the recently acquired RecipeZaar.
Scripps Networks set a new record for online audience numbers in the Nielsen Online Food & Cooking category with more than 12.6 million unique users visiting the site in Dec. 2007.
I believe that the success of Food Networks Web site lies in their ability to convert TV traffic into Web traffic. A person watches their favorite celebrity chef on TV make a fab meal and the person then hops onto the Web site to print out the recipe. Are there any other categories that can drive this direct TV-to-Web type of traffic?
On a side note, I had the chance to spend a few days on the set of Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals. She’s an absolute talent. Not one retake, a funny person, very bright, can improvise anything and her success is due to her hard work. Here’s a photo from my time on the set :)
Cooking.com has announced a new $7 million loan agreement with ORIX Venture Finance. The company states the money will be used to expand operations, enhance its community content, and support continued acceleration of its private label online programs.
I have to admit that I haven’t used Cooking.com in years. Site looks the same today as it did years ago. Maybe they should spend some of the $7 million for a new design and features. Sadly the recipes section is nothing compared to AllRecipes.
Food Network changed the way we look at food several years ago and made it hip and contemporary and created icons out of chefs and cooks. Cooking.com should work to reap some of the hot trend before food once again gets stale.
Update: Erick wonders why they chose debt financing over a normal vc-type deal. He also questions whether they will go IPO.
Giada De Laurentiis is one of the top chefs on the Food Network in the U.S. Her show, Everyday Italian is the show I want to discuss today. Now you may ask yourself, what in the heck does a cooking host have to do with Web 2.0 or passion-centric communities? Stick with me and I hope it will become clear by the end of the post.
I think it takes a lot for someone to be passionate about an onion or a tomato. And there are other chefs on tv as well. Rachael Ray and Emeril come to mind first. I actually spent a day with Rachael on her set. She rocks as a person and loves food. I have watched Emeril since his first Bam! and think he is such an excellent food personality. But what makes them different than the way Giada demonstrates her passion?
If you watch Giada when she began Everday Italian in the 2003 timeframe, you will see someone who enjoyed cooking but really was not able to get the viewers excited. In interviews she would talk about the passion, but on TV she seemed unhappy or scared. Over the past two seasons of the show, she is now demonstrating her passion and the show has taken off. Just like her TV career has. Why? Because she became able to draw viewers into her passion.
Two of the most important aspects of a passion-centric community are to:
- be passionate – if you don't have the passion for your community, no one else will
- show the passion to your users – you may have the passion but without showing it, it is the same as the other item above, your users won't be passionate either
And these things are the things she does on her tv show today. First, she is completely passionate about the food she is cooking. She lets you know it by the tone in her voice, the look on her face, her expressions and the way she works with the food. It might be just cutting a clove of garlic, but when she does it, it almost seems real. I have never seen someone so excited about food. And even better, watch how she reacts when she talks about chocolate. You can really feel the passion.
Second, she gets the audience involved with her passion. When she takes a sip of a drink she made, or cuts into a meal, you wish you were sitting there with her, experiencing the meal or drink as well. There are times that based on the way she describes the item she just ate, I actually think I ate it as well. This is because of the 2nd bullet above – she can move her passion from herself to me.
So what do you need to do to obtain this type of passion for your site. It is really quite easy. Believe in your product passionately. No matter if it is a web app or a blog or a ecommerce site. Make sure that you do the things that you would want someone else to do if you were using their site. And then, get people excited about what you are doing. When you have done both of these things effectively, you will have a passion-centric community that can't fail!
Everyday Italian is on the Food Network 2x a day everyday – check it out sometime and drop me a line if you agree or disagree about her passion and the ability to draw you into the passion. I have emailed the Food Network to see if we can interview Giada — I think it would be interesting to get her to provide some insight into where her passion for food comes from and more importantly how she is able to convey her message and get others passionated! (new word) about her food.