Will Social Media Influence The Travel Channel Launch's of "Deep Fried America?" An interview with host Jay Ducote

06/20/2016

Jay Ducote_1Jay Ducote came to my attention when he battled it out last year on the Food Network show Food Network Star Season 11.

For those who might not be food TV fans (a guilty pleasure of mine... take a look at Diva Foodies!) the winner of Food Network Star walks away with the biggest prize in food TV competiton ~ their own show on the Food Network.

Although Jay came in 2nd there was no doubt that he knew his way in the kitchen - indoors and outdoors, had great on-air presence and the fans loved  him. Seems the Scripps Networks Interactive brass thought so too because they offered Jay an amazing opportunity to film a pilot for a sister network, Travel Channel.

What makes Jay especially relevant to the Diva Marketing community is his use of social media, aka Social TV, to promote his on-air opportunity on the Food Network and to leverage the social buzz to encourage Scripps Networks Interactive to pick up the Deep Fried America pilot.

In our Diva Marketing interview Jay generous shares his insights on Social TV, how to social media tips, some of his Food Network Star backstory and what it was like to be a dude blogger back in 2009! Enjoy Jay's Story.

About Jay Ducote According To Jay Ducote

I’m a friendly, fun loving guy from Louisiana who loves to celebrate food and beverage culture. I’m a chef, writer, speaker, entertainer and hugger. I’ve got a product line available called Jay D’s with a Louisiana Barbecue Sauce, Louisiana Molasses Mustard and Spicy & Sweet Barbecue Rub.

Diva Marketing: Before we dive into how you’re using social media to support the Travel Channel pilot for your pilot of Deep Fried America, let’s set the stage for the peeps in our community who may not now But are soon to be (!) avid food TV viewers.

Not to be snarky, but there are so many food shows what makes Deep Fried America different and a must watch... in addition to the awesome host of course?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried AmericaDeep Fried America presents a great mix of drool-worthy food, talented chefs and fun travel.

I’m going to be in the kitchen helping prepare (and eating of course) some amazing food, the caveat is that something in it has to be cooked in a deep fryer.

But we aren’t just looking for normal fried foods, we are talking to chefs who are being innovative and creating new dishes using the fryer.

Diva Marketing: The concept of Deep Fried America was taken from one of your Food Network Star show challenges. On Food Network Star you were positioned as the BBQ guy who developed his cooking chops (pun intentional) from tailgating parties at LSU. Fried foods seems like a step in another direction. Why a fried food focus? Say that fast 3 times: fried food focus/fried food focus/fried food focus!

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: The short answer is because the Network loved it and wanted it. They pushed Eddie in the BBQ direction and had me go toward the fried foods.

To be fair, while I did some grilling on Food Network Star, I never really got to do any barbecuing or even make a version of my BBQ sauce. I tried to one time, but our groceries got swapped and Eddie ended up making the BBQ sauce instead (4th of July challenge).

On the culinary improv episode of Food Network Star I fried calamari and gave a line to live audience including people from the Network that being from Louisiana, anything that flies, crawls, walks, slithers or swims, we fry it. From that point on I think the Network liked positioning me as a fried foods guy.

All that being said, I definitely have a special place in my heart and stomach for deep fried foods. Fried Chicken would be on the plate if I got to choose my last mean. A beignet in Louisiana is the perfect breakfast. At tailgate parties you can rest assured that we had an outdoor deep fryer right next to the grill!

Diva Marketing: Let’s talk blogs! I’ve been active in the blogosphere for over 12 years and have known some great food bloggers. Although most chefs are men, most food bloggers are women.

Do you think being a dude in that world gave Bite & Booze, launched in 2009, a competitive advantage? Why or why not?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: Without a doubt, 100%.

I think that being a large, bearded, masculine man with a love for barbecue and beer and whiskey and fried foods helped set me apart in the food blog world.

While I would be just another guy in the kitchen, taking the food blog route helped differentiate me. I can remember going to food blog conferen Jay Ducote_3ces and the audience being 80-90% women and 10-20% men, and of those men, rarely was there another guys like me.

So I stood out in the world. And I was able to make a name for myself in that world. I got more and more opportunities to speak or to be on camera because of that. It definitely helped grow my blog and my brand.

Diva Marketing: Blogs are ever evolving and where you begin is not necessarily where you end up. How has the focus of Bite & Booze changed from back in the 2009 days?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: My blog, Bite & Booze, started as a personal food journal. I wrote a blog about what I had for lunch that day just so I could keep track of it. I was working an office job in downtown Baton Rouge and I wanted to something to cure me of my boredom.

I knew right away that I would want it to focus on supporting local restaurants and chefs, but I had no idea it would grow into what it has become.

I now speak of Bite & Booze not as a blog, but as a culinary media company. The website is still primarily a blog, but we also do a radio show (since 2011… in 2014 it won a Taste Award as the best food or drink based radio broadcast in the country), podcasts, video production, lots of social media stuff, events and more.

Diva Marketing: What tips on how to create compelling blog content that builds a loyal audience can you give us?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America

1. Stay consistent. Whatever your theme or brand is, stay consistent with it.

2. Also be personal. I find that people really like to feel like they get to know the blogger or the person behind the posts.

I don’t do a whole lot of recipe blogging, but has been part of my strategy. I support and celebrate the entire local food scene wherever I am from farmers to chefs and restaurants to people making cool products.

Diva Marketing: When doing research for our interview I came across an article from The Advocate. The headlined caught my attention. 

Jay Ducote's ‘Deep Fried’ pilot to air on Travel Channel June 25; future depends on viewer engagement

How important will the social buzz be to impact the Travel Channel's decision to pick up your pilot and why?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: There are a couple ways to give Travel Channel good, immediate feedback on the show.

The first is for people to actually watch and set their DVRs to record the broadcast. The people in charge will see those ratings and get that data.

Secondly, social engagement absolutely helps. If @travelchannel is bombarded with tweets during the broadcast, they’ll know that not only are people watching, but they are also engaging. That’s powerful information for them to be able to take to advertisers who would purchase air time during my show.

At the end of the day this is a business, and producing great content is only good if it can be sold to sponsors and advertisers.

So the social buzz will let Travel Channel and potential advertisers know that there will be engaged viewers if they pick the show up for multiple seasons.

Diva Marketing: Let’s look at what is called Social TV on a more global basis.

Although Nielsen includes Twitter and now public Facebook into its TV ratings, in your opinion, to what extent do most producers/TV food media companies bring active social media into their digital marketing/out-reach mix?

Jay Ducote_4_social tv

(By active social media I mean, authentically engaging with the show’s fans versus broadcasting messages about the show or network.)

 Jay Ducote, Deep Fried AmericaI feel like a lot of brands/people could truly be more active, especially when a show airs.

For pretty much every episode of Food Network Star last summer my team and I were live tweeting with fans during the episode. You never really see that from the big stars or the networks themselves. But I think they should.

The ability to now engage directly with the fans while a show is airing is pretty incredible.

Doing it live can be pretty tricky for sure, but I find that it is worth it!

 Diva Marketing: I totally agree Jay! Now, a very basic but important question Jay – what benefits does social, done well, bring to the table?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: 4 Social Media Benefits

1. Social media gives everyone the opportunity to grow a brand in ways that weren’t possible before.

2. It gives fans a chance to get an inside glimpse, connect with a personality or follow their journey.

3. It also gives people like me a platform beyond the mass media outlets like TV or Radio.

4. So when it is done well, it is possible to build and retain a fan base outside of the traditional media outlets.

Diva Marketing: What are your thoughts about the benefits/importance of food TV personalities, chefs and contestants, live tweeting during their own shows?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: I do it. It makes sense. It helps build and audience and grow a brand. It can be tough to make time for it, but it is so worth it.

Diva Marketing: If you were King of a food media company how would you use social media aka Social TV?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: 

I’d make it part of my social media plan to use social to support on-air content and use on-air content to push people to social.

I’d make it to where a large part of my social strategy would be live-tweeting shows and posting on other platforms about new programming that is on the air. I’d make sure I had a team of people to actively engage with social rather than just be shouting into the void.

Diva Marketing: In addition to blogs, you’re active on multiple social media channels and have been leveraging them to support Deep Fried America. How do you play to the strengths of, let’s say the Big 3: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America:

Facebook: Provide links, pictures, video content. Ask questions and get engagement in a thread.

Instagram: Photos are key. Use pictures that resonate in one way or another.

Twitter: Inform and engage. Short format messaging. Connect with the audience by engaging in conversation.

Jay Ducote_6 tweet

 Diva Marketing: Are you looking at insights/metrics and if so (1) which are most valuable to you and (2) what tools are you using to measure?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: Probably not as much as I should. I look at some Facebook data but that’s about it. I see engagement on Twitter and Instagram but I don’t go too deep into analytics.

Diva Marketing: Although text/image driven channels like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook can include links to videos they are a “still world.” How did you build your personal brand to authentically bring Jay Ducote to digital life, so to speak?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried AmericaInstagram is great for short little videos and Facebook is awesome for videos. I haven’t really done a whole lot yet with live streaming or other video content like that.

I kind of let my other content speak for itself. Though I do think that doing a little more live stuff or short videos would be a good idea.

Diva Marketing: Let’s go back to Social TV in food media. Who do you think in terms of a TV chef gets it and is doing it right?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: I think Alton Brown does a really good job with this social media. He is active and engaging.

Diva Marketing: What are a couple of tips you can pass along to your TV food chef pals in terms of how to do social right to build their personal brand and support their TV shows?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: 4 Social Media Tips

1. Just a little effort goes a long way.

2. Think about it in advance.

3. Use services to schedule content in advance rather than wait until the show is airing to even think about it.

4. Make it a priority to have social engagement as part of our overall brand strategy.

Diva Marketing: I love how Alton Brown uses cartoons that are shown against tweets when he live tweets Cutthroat Kitchen. We’re thinking optimistically, when Deep Fried America is on-air how will you use social media to support the show? Jay Ducote_5_alton brown
Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: Well crap, I didn’t see this before I answered with Alton Brown earlier. Yes, I like that too.

I’m obviously going to do all the things that we’ve mentioned before. Beyond that, who knows! We’ll have to see what happens.

Diva Marketing: Guess great minds think a like, or something like that! Jay, how can we support you in ensuring Deep Fried America lives to be part of the Travel Channel’s lineup?

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: Watch it, set DVRs, ask your friends to do the same, live tweet the show and tag @travelchannel and @jayducote and #deepfriedamerica. Do the same thing on Facebook and Instagram.

Diva Marketing: As is the tradition of Diva Marketing interviews, the guest always has the last response. Wrap this anyway you’d like.

Jay Ducote, Deep Fried America: I’m certainly hoping that this turns into something much more than a pilot. It is a really exciting time and opportunity for me, but I won’t be pleased with the results unless the show gets picked up for a season. And then another. And then another.

I know I’ve got a lot of work to do ahead of me to continue to pursue my passion and chase my dreams. The TV side of everything I do is actually just a small part of my overall business model.

Bite & Booze, my culinary media company that started as a blog in 2009, and Hug Jay D, which is my product company that launched in 2014, are just the beginning.

Coming in 2017 will be my first restaurant, Gov’t Taco, a gourmet taco shop in Baton Rouge, La. And I’m sure there will be much more coming down the line as I continue to grow all of my brands and businesses.

Deep Fried America has a chance to be a huge part of that growth, so all the support and encouragement is definitely appreciated. Let’s make sure the Travel Channel knows that people out there want the show!

Connect with Jay!

Jay Ducote: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Bite and Booze: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Hug J D: Facebook 

Saturday, June 25, 12:30 CT, on Travel Channel

Jaydeepfriedamericalogo

 

 

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