Alton Brown’s initiation into the social media zeitgeist started with bonuts. “You would not believe how many people in the last 10 days have made these bonuts and taken a picture and put it on Facebook,” says Brown, of his donuts made from biscuit dough. “If you hit the sweet spot of personal connectivity, people will do it. And once people have done it, that changes the whole relationship.”
The creator of Good Eats, TV host, game show emcee, and podcast producer is still pushing himself creatively, even if the medium is a five-minute-long Facebook video. And in his newest book, EveryDayCook (out September 27), Brown says he is being 100% himself for the first time in his career.
Always enjoyable to watch on Food Network, Brown has developed a quirky social media presence that perfectly combines a classic with new media: he scribbles tweets on Post-It Notes, slaps them on the computer screen over his Twitter timeline, and then puts up pics of them:
— Alton Brown (@altonbrown) September 22, 2016
Brown understands the “social” aspect of social media. Too many celebrities who are also brands treat Twitter and Facebook as though they are merely modern ways to deliver a press release. Brown has taken his likability that was always obvious on television and used it to forge a strong connection with a rapidly growing social media fan base. Now he wants to leverage that and use it to deliver a cooking show in an entirely 21st century way:
The difference is that if you hit the sweet spot of personal connectivity, people will do it. And once people have done it, that changes the whole relationship. I would argue, and I may be wrong, but I do believe that that the shorter the video is, the more condensed the information is, the more inclined you may be to watch, the less inclined you are to make it. I have a relationship with my fanbase, so if they see me doing it and I’m talking about it, we can already plug into an existing relationship. That familiarity is important. Why? Because they’ve cooked my recipes and they’ve tried them and they trust me. I’ve earned that trust. I’m not screwing it up. And most of my fans are consuming 60% of their media on mobile devices. So, I’m now going to be producing specifically for the phone and my sweet spot is five minutes. I’m not even thinking about how it looks on a computer or a TV screen. If it doesn’t work on a phone, I’m not going to do it.
During a meeting three years ago I told someone I didn’t understand why more content wasn’t already being created specifically for mobile screens. The viewing trend has been moving that way for quite some time, so it’s about time that the content creators catch up.
If it’s content that is helping me make something delicious for dinner, so much the better.