Will Tweet for Food

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Marketers have long understood the value of tastemakers- individuals with large social and professional spheres who possess great peer influence. The marketing concept is to provide new and innovative products and services to these key individuals in the hope that they will endorse and promote them within their spheres. In recent years we have seen tastemakers leverage the reach and power of their influence through online media. Bloggers and new media outlets like DailyCandy, Gawker, and Cool Hunting feed the need of an information-hungry audience, breaking news and shaping opinions on a vast scale.

The latest tastemaking phenomenon is tastecasting; a marketing ploy that harnesses the collective connections of the most socially networked individuals. TasteCasting.com arranges complimentary and promotional taste testing events at bars and restaurants and invites teams of social media-savvy locals who will stream their experiences live to Twitter, and follow up with postings and broadcasts to social media sites like TwitPic, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin, and the personal blogs operated by the tasting team members.

To qualify as a TasteCasting.com taster, the social network that you interact with on a regular basis should be at least 250 followers, friends, fans, subscribers, or other contacts spread across your various social media networks, blogs, forums, newsletters, or websites. TasteCasting.com also relies on rating systems like What’s Your Tweet Worth? and Twitter-Grader to evaluate the level and quality of your personal social media spheres.

A similar marketing strategy was recently employed by a restaurant in San Francisco that hoped to get some good word-of-mouth advertising by offering a 20% to Yelpers who bring in a review that they have posted online.

courtesy of Mel's Diner

courtesy of Mel's Diner

This all can be a little unsettling, especially if we think too hard about the ethics of this marketing strategy, known as astroturfing for the artificial way in which it mimics spontaneous grassroots expressions. The TasteCasting.com website refers to the practice as “promotional review,” reminding its members: “Our goal is to HELP small business owners.. . we’re invited guests to the establishment… If you or other team members experience something you don’t like we will take the opportunity to tell the establishment representative during the tasting. We can HELP them with our honest and constructive opinion.”

TasteCasting.com currently has a presence in Aspen, Austin, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Columbus, Denver, El Paso, Fort Lauderdale, Greensboro, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Montreal, Nashville, New York City, Palm Beach, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Seattle, St Louis, Tampa, and Tucson. You’ll find information on how to join the TasteCasting media stream at http://www.tastecasting.com/reviews/create-a-team.


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