British Culinary Federation
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The British Culinary Federation is a membership organisation for individuals based in hotels, restaurants, contract catering companies, colleges and the Armed Services in the UK and beyond. If there’s one thing a membership organisation needs to do well it’s communicate with its members. Organisations like the BCF are there to provide a voice for members and nurture a sense of common-purpose. It is therefore vital they respond to changes in behaviour and advances in technology and communicate with their members in the way their members want to be communicated with. Over the last 12 months we have been talking to the BCF about ways they use social media to connect with their membership, in particular in relation to key events.
Each year they hold several cheffing competitions attracting top talent from all corners of the UK. These events are very exciting for and eagerly anticipated by those directly involved and show the BCF at it’s best – raising industry standards and supporting talent development. The results of each competition are published on the BCF website and in their membership magazine and communicated to the industry media via a press release. This year the BCF decided to enlist our help in live-reporting the BCF Young Chef of the Year event on Facebook, Twitter and Vine. The goal was to bring the event to life online, cultivating a real buzz and engaging the membership in real-time. It was also hoped that by increasing the reach of BCF communications through social sharing, this activity would also succeed in attracting the interest of potential members.
Having given the BCF’s existing presences on Facebook and Twitter a quick design refresh, we made several posts ahead of the event, engaging previous participants as well as this year’s finalists. This helped to build anticipation of the competition and attract new fans and followers.
From the competition briefing through to the announcement of the competition winner at the Awards Dinner, our Social Media Account Manager provided an engaging online commentary, capturing and sharing images and short videos. An event hashtag was created and used to link content on both Twitter and Facebook. Vine was used to show selected dishes being plated up and give a taste of atmosphere at the event.
With our help capturing and sharing a range of videos, images and updates via social media, the BCF succeeded in creating a real buzz around the Young Chef of the Year event online, before, during and afterwards. Across Facebook, Twitter and Vine, the BCF successfully engaged with various members, stakeholders and members of the public they wouldn’t have done otherwise, significantly extending the reach of the event and raising awareness of the BCF. In a two week period, starting a week before the event, on Twitter alone the BCF interacted with over 100 individuals, recruiting 50 new chef followers and receiving 68 retweets. Word spread quickly as we successfully encouraged BCF members, as well as friends and family and colleagues of the young chefs competing to get involved using the competition hashtag. The Vine videos of participants plating up their dishes were particularly popular, each receiving multiple retweets and being looped hundreds of times. Whilst engagement peaked during the event as people following along live and checked back for the announcement of the result, it remained high for several weeks post-event too as further content, including a Storify round up was shared around and the results were widely publicised in the press.
The feedback from event participants and the many following along at home was almost unanimously positive: the live reporting was exciting and engaging and something they wanted to see more. The mother of one participant told us that she thought her husband who was following along from work via social media had a better idea of what was going on than she did, sat on the observation bench at the event! Not quite everyone was happy though – we did get a friendly telling off by the winning young chef for tweeting a photograph of him making a mistake (that was of course rectified!) He forgave us though and happily posed for a selfie with Alison at the end of the night.
As a result of amping up the level of activity on the three presences for this short period, the BCFs social media followings have grown significantly. The Facebook page set-up for the Young Chef event as an alternative to the closed group now has over 3,000 likes. The Twitter following has also grown to exceed 1,000 followers.
The BCF were so pleased with the way we used social media to extend the reach of the event and engage with the membership that we were immediately booked to cover the national Student Cook and Serve Competition as well as the upcoming BCF awards.