Week 3: A Conversation with Guest Speakers Babette Pepaj and Dan Portnoy

Gabriela Suzano

Gabriela Suzano

By UCLA X425 Student Gabriela Suzano

Last week we had the pleasure of meeting two great professionals, Babette Pepaj (@BakeSpace) and Dan Portnoy (@DanPortnoy). As guest speakers they were charged with helping us understand how to produce useful content that people want to share.

Babette Pepaj

Babette Pepaj

Babette started by giving us brief background about her career, which included many years of experience producing reality TV. She then focused on her current business – BakeSpace.com, an online community for people who love cooking and everything related. One of the ways Babette has built and monetized the site is by creating special digital cookbooks based on brands. One such cookbook she gave as an example was for the TV series “Desperate Housewives,” in which recipes were inspired by the characters and story line. She also discussed the importance of creating a community that will want to consume and share your content. “When you have a community, the members become the product for companies that want to reach that audience,” she said. She also talked about BakeSpace’s weekly KitchenParty live streaming video Hangout on Google+. Each week a group of culinary experts come together online to talk about a particular food topic or trend. During Babette’s review of KitchenParty, we also had an opportunity to learn more about the Google+ Hangout platform and how the tool works.

Both Babette and Dan shared some examples of how to use branded content. We learned that we should strive to make it as personal, relevant and useful as possible to the target audience, like Babette does with branded recipes. She said that recipes are personal, so they make people want to share and talk about them. Dan also told us about the importance of building a connection with the public. He said we should make people identify with a brand by telling a story, like he did with this video for client Arclight Theaters (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yctWCHCnc3k).

Can Portnoy

Can Portno

As Dan talked about his professional experiences, he gave us several very useful tips about content for social media. The first such tip is to challenge the audience to do something, compete for something, and then help them talk about it. He then said we must be careful every time we try to sell something. “The more it doesn’t look like an advertisement, the more it will be received,” he said. Finally, he gave us steps to follow when creating content to promote a product and/or company. First, define your target audiences and goals, and then find out where those people are online. Also look for brand partnerships to turn your ideas into reality.

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