At Social Media Week in New York City this year, I met Julie Resnick, an entrepreneur who, with her husband, Dan, is embarking on a two-headed business challenge: building an all-new social network based on food, and an app to help bind members and their favorite recipes together. They call it feedfeed.
Though their business is in its early stages, Julie and Dan have managed to attract a significant number of users. Instagram serves as the primary watering hole; consumers, including home cooks, professional chefs, and farmers, many of whom hail from the eastern end of Long Island, post stunning photos of the dishes they’ve made and tag them with “#feedfeed.” Julie and Dan then pick the best ones to hero in the company’s social media. The company also has released an app in pre-beta to a select group of users.
I asked Julie to share her insights into the company and her strategy for achieving lift-off in the ultra-competitive world of social media and mobile apps. The startup is doing a lot of things right, but developers and mobile marketers should take note of how feedfeed uses social media as a recruitment tool for its app.
Matt Collins: What is feedfeed?
Julie Resnick: feedfeed is a community for cooks to find and share inspiration in a dynamic social network dedicated to cooking.
Members of the feedfeed community provide each other the inspiration for the questions cooks face on a daily basis: “What should I make?” Or, when looking at their specific ingredients, “How can I make something new and exciting?”
feedfeed unlocks the magic and love that our users put into their own cooking and allows inspiration, ideas and secrets to easily pass from one kitchen to the next through image based posts with short descriptions and links.
MC: Why did you start it?
JR: Over the years, I have shared many amazing meals with friends and family who I take inspiration from in my cooking. There are also many cooks, bloggers, and chefs that I get inspiration from from all over the world. Cooking dinner for my family nearly every night of the week, I often found myself wondering what many of these cooks were making in their kitchens with some of the same ingredients. I found myself wishing there was one dedicated community in which I could interact with all of them to find and share cooking inspiration in real-time. There are many places to get recipes, but what I was looking for was a place to make connections and get inspiration from the cooks already in my life and the many other like-minded cooks all over the world. I decided to build a network to bring all of these cooks together in one place.
MC: Who is feedfeed for, and how do your community members contribute?
JR: feedfeed is a network for all types of cooks (home cooks of all levels, food bloggers and chefs) to share inspiration related to the food they are making in their own kitchens. While our app is in development, members of our community can contribute by:
- Taking a picture of the food they’ve made.
- Posting the image on their personal Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter accounts with a short description of what is in the dish.
- Adding the hashtag #feedfeed to the description.
feedfeed is also a network for farmers, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), and food producers that produce the food people cook with. The feedfeed app allows these organizations to give their customers and communities a place to connect with one another to find and share cooking inspiration from the ingredients they are getting from a common source.
MC: Food and the food system in general are currently hot button issues both socially and politically. Does feedfeed have any particular point of view regarding the food system?
JR: feedfeed broadly believes that easiest thing we can all do to make a positive impact on improving the food system and help it become more sustainable for the environment is to cook more. By inspiring people’s cooking we believe they will begin to care more about where their food comes from and how it is grown. With this in mind, we plan on giving a portion of our future profits to small farms and other causes supporting a sustainable food system.
MC: You’ve already got a large audience, and it’s increasing. What are the ways in which you’re growing your community?
JR: From the beginning our growth has been tied directly to engaging vast yet disparate communities of cooks already using social media to find/share inspiration. feedfeed has started to bring them all together under one network by engaging all the great cooks out there to share their food with us by tagging their images #feedfeed on all social networks. We frequently go through thousands of these submissions and choose the most creative and interesting ones to regularly feature on our own social media accounts for the rest of our community to see.
MC: Your website, feedfeed.info, says you’ve got an app in the works. What will the app do, and why did you decide to create one as opposed to relying on your website and Instagram community?
JR: Our app allows users to meet and follow like-minded cooks as well as specific feeds to get inspired. For example, on the feedfeed app, users can set up feeds based on specific categories like Breakfast, Chicken, Squash or Vegan. Users can also search by ingredient or cooking style which is not currently possible on other social networks. We are focusing heavily on our app because increasingly people across the world use their mobile devices (sometimes exclusively) to find and share information, to socialize, and to take pictures.
Once the app is live, the feedfeed community will continue to exist and publish content across all the social networks and on the feedfeed website in addition to on our app.
MC: What’s your strategy for driving downloads of the app?
JR: We are all lucky to have amazing social networks already in existence. These networks have allowed us to build a rapidly growing community and engage with the future users of the feedfeed app.
We have already been able to engage our most loyal followers and recruit them to help us test our assumptions and get their feedback on the prototype of the feedfeed app. These early users of the app are helping us build a product with the features and user experience that they and the rest of the feedfeed community will want to use and download in the future.
In addition, we are focusing on penetrating about 80 food-forward cities across the globe and marketing our network to the most influential, bloggers, chefs, and local farmers / food producers in those cities (many of which we are already connected with on the existing social networks).
MC: What suggestions do you have for other like-minded entrepreneurs who are considering building social communities and supporting them with mobile apps? In a world of titanic social networks like Facebook and Pinterest, you’ve got some large and deep pocketed competitors.
JR: Rather than seeing the large social networks as competitors, we see them as amazing horizontal communities already in place and as partners which allow us to reach vast amounts of interested cooks.
The established large social networks are broad populations of people across all topics of interest. Since feedfeed is a vertical network, we specifically exist for people that love to cook, so that these people can focus on cooking when they are on our network, but also have the capability to push out their cooking to the broader established networks if they choose to do so.
The existing large social networks would be very difficult to compete with obviously. However, we see room for vertical networks that are focused on a specific topic and engage users to expand their knowledge, encourage each other and make real connections around a common interest or passion. We see our relationship with existing larger networks as complementary since individuals may choose to push their cooking activity back and forth between our network and the larger networks, depending on the people they are trying to reach.
Our advice for other entrepreneurs would be that if you plan on building a social community, it is vital to understand how each of the existing horizontal networks works and to form a strategy for your brand to engage potential users uniquely on each of the existing networks. We would recommend using these existing networks to pilot your idea and begin to test your initial assumptions. Finally, we think it is important to formulate a strategy on how your network will coexist and even complement the offerings that existing larger networks provide so many people.
MC: Where can people go to learn more about feedfeed?
JR: www.feedfeed.info, where those interested can watch a video which best describes what we are building. You can follow us at www.instagram.com/thefeedfeed and www.twitter.com/the_feedfeed.