Friday, September 25, 2015

IFBC 2016 is heading to Sacramento + Takeaways from IFBC 2015

International Food Blogger Conference keynote speaker, Kim Severson, food writer, The New York Times addressed attendees on Saturday, September 19, 2015 in Seattle's Sheraton Hotel.
The 2015 International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) wrapped up last weekend. Focusing on food, writing and technology, the yearly conference brings together on average 300 food bloggers from several countries to learn, taste and network.

Registration night and Gift Suite time
Several Seattle businesses were in attendance registration night providing attendees with samples like this nutrient dense broth from The Triple Door.
At the close of this year's IFBC Sunday, Zephyr Adventure's founder, Allan Wright, revealed that next year's conference will be returning to California with first time host city, Sacramento, providing a vital component to the conference that has been lacking in previous editions: an agricultural perspective.

An article in the Sacramento Bee, reported that the city's convention and visitor's bureau has been aggressively pushing the city as "America's Farm to Fork Capitol." According to the official Farm to Fork website, "the Sacramento region contains 1.5 million acres of regional farmland, 8,000 acres of boutique farms, with 70 percent of the region’s land being agricultural, forest or other open space." It goes on to state that "Sacramento’s Mediterranean climate produces some of the nation’s most diverse and high-quality crops year-round."

Session 1: How to Create Standout Holiday Content Presented by ANOLON with Irvin Lin of Eat the Love
and Sarah Flotard, food stylist.
Previous conferences have rotated between Seattle, Portland, New Orleans, and Santa Monica, all food cities with a thriving restaurant scene. Bringing it to Sacramento, drops the conference right into the heart of California's farming industry (which in turn, will also bring our years-long drought and it's impact on agriculture to the forefront). 

With potential opportunity for more excursions that could include farm tours, early plans by the visitor's bureau to host a Saturday night street party for the potential 300-plus bloggers that will descend upon the city, and closer proximity to the Napa/Sonoma Valley's wine region, next year's IFBC has the potential of being bigger than previous editions and, if you're a food blogger, a "must attend" event. 

Bubbles and Bites: Why Sparkling Wine is the Best Food Wine Presented by Italy’s Best Bubbles: Franciacorta and James Lechner, owner and wine director of Seattle’s own Stoneburner restaurant
Early registration is happening now. Register here

"In the end, no one will care about your page views. They will care about your views …" Kathleen Flinn
My top takeaways from IFBC 2015

FOOD TRENDS

  • Sriracha is out. Harissa is in. (And I've been writing about harissa all year. Check out these harissa posts: chicken wings, spicy chocolate cake, cauliflower patties, lamb wraps, grilled lamb chops, spicy feta sliders, carne asada tacos with harissa avocado creme, veggie + couscous salad with harissa dressing, eggplant + red onion pizza)
  • Flavored butters rule! Use it for topping steaks, mixed into pastas, on toast
  • Artisanal toast is still hot
  • Kale is out. Cauliflower is in (cauliflower tortillas, anyone?)
  • Clean eating is hot. I mean, like, super hot. GenZ is all about improved wellness. They don't want to push away from the table feeling stuffed
  • Global mashups: Focus on giving classics a new spin by combining flavor profiles from different cuisines 
  • Move over tacos and sandwiches and make room for savory waffles
  • DIYs (how-to's) on making homemade versions of store-bought staples is a wildly popular Google search (My homemade limoncello, taco seasoning, butter, and vanilla extract recipes are some of my most popular posts)
  • Slow-cooker recipes are year-round people pleasers, especially family-friendly recipes
  • And the number one food trend prediction? Veg-centric meals. As animal protein costs continue to climb, restaurant chefs are moving proteins off the plate and skewing vegan where veggies go beyond a mere sauté to undergo charring, blistering and roasting becoming the star of the plate

TECHNOLOGY

  • Create an editorial calendar that includes a variety of posts covering seasons, key trends, holidays, food holidays, events, everyday cooking
  • Create a promotion checklist that you can follow for every blog post
  • Make a schedule to promote your blog posts at 1 p.m., 8 p.m., next week, and one month out
  • Repurpose old content! You've already done the work. If a food holiday comes up and you have a recipe with that particular food as the star, tweet it out, Pin-it, Instragram it and run it on your Facebook; give your archives a workout

  • Facebook:

    • DO NOT USE A THIRD-PARTY TO POST TO YOUR FACEBOOK FAN PAGE. Facebook doesn't play well with others and will virtually bury third-party posts in your fan feeds.
    • Link-style posts do better than photo posts
    • Native video uploads will drive up the algorithm Facebook uses for post placement
    • Facebook hates YouTube (the algorithm will bury posts from YouTube, Hootsuite, and other social media schedulers; see above)
    • Always watermark your photos. If the photo goes viral, you want people to be able to find your site (this is true for Twitter and Instagram, as well)

  • Twitter:

    • Don't be a diva! Curate content on Twitter to supplement your own by retweeting, sharing your favorite blogger's posts from your RSS feeds, and QUOTES (Pablo, PicMonkey, BrainyQuote are great sources) 
    • Quotes, needs mentioning again, as they are hugely popular
    • You should tweet a minimum of three times a day: morning, midday, evening
    • Don't junk up your tweets with more then three hashtags
    • Use a bulk scheduler, such as Hootsuite, which you can set up one day of the week to tweet out for you all week, even while you sleep

  • Pinterest:

    • Casseroles get the most clicks
    • Pretty food and gorgeously styled photographs get the most pins. However, recipes for everyday dishes get the most CLICKS
    • Pin your content to multiple boards, just not on the same day. For example, if you have a new post go up and have a board for your blog, pin the post to your blog board. If it's a hamburger, and you have a board for burgers, the next day, pin-it to your burger board
    • Pins resurface, so be mindful of the copy you use in the descriptions so that it's EVERGREEN and inspiring

  • Instagram:

    • Post at least once a day
    • Instagram isn't the best media to drive traffic to your site but it IS important to build your BRAND and create a sense of community
    • The better your photography, the more likes
    • If someone likes a photo or becomes a new follower, be a good citizen and check out their feed, like a photo or two or even follow them back. This helps introduce you to their followers as well
    • Seven to ten hashtags is about right for Instagram; use popular ones if possible so that you stay visible to the widest audience
Ok, so I've left the best takeaways for last …

WRITING

The over-riding theme was accuracy, accuracy, accuracy.
  • "Even if your mother tells you that she loves you, you better check that." Keynote speaker, Kim Severson, food writer, The New York Times
    • More from Kim:
      • We're purveyor's of information. We must report with humility and write with authority
      • Embrace the blank page. If you're not composing, you're composting so sit down at the computer and say to yourself, what do I want to say? Then just type out that first throwaway sentence just to get the process started
      • Eat as much as you can, taste everything, take as many bites as you can and enjoy the proces
      • Never say yummy and sauce is not addictive so avoid cliches
      • Instead, present things as if they are like other things. For example, Biting into that steak was like chewing on a lead pencil or Each spoonful of soup tasted like old pool water
      • Stay transparent; if you get something free and write about, disclose that the review item was provided by the company you're reviewing
  • "People come to your site to trust you so do your best to be right." Kathleen Flinn, journalist, author and blogger at cookfearless.com.
    • More from Kathleen:
      • Readers don't make the distinction between a news site and a blog so it's important to be an authority
      • Do research. The more you learn about what you love, the better writer you will be
      • Answer the basics: who, what, when, where, how but as food writers, we must also address sight, sound, taste, touch and smell
      • Taste is hard to describe. It makes you work harder as a writer. That said, don't use "delicious" or "yummy" (see a theme here?)
      • Be ethical and don't plagiarize
      • Always provide the source of your information, even if you're paraphrasing
      • Where recipes are concerned, attribute, attribute, attribute. And understand the difference between "inspired by" (you saw so-and-so made fig jam and that inspired you to make fig bars) and "adapted by" (you used someone's ingredients, maybe adding one or two of your own and maybe changing measurements, maybe not). Be generous with your attributions (it's just good karma)
      • Ask an expert. Your work will invariably be enhanced by another viewpoint. Ask them simple questions. Dumb questions often result in the best answers
      • Proofread. Three times.
      • Be curious and don't do what everyone else is doing. If you come across something that makes you say, "Huh! That's interesting," researching that could lead to a good post
      • Be specific. Don't say, "Experts say…" Do the research and cite your sources
      • Always find at least two unrelated sources that support your argument, data or facts
      • "It's hard to be right. It's easier to be careful." - Nick Shuman, former managing editor of The Chicago Sun-Times
      • "In the end, no one will care about your page views. They will care about your views …" Kathleen Flinn
    • Additional resources provided by Kathleen:


And my favorite quote of the weekend, shared by Kathleen:

"You can never know everything about anything,
especially something you love."
 
- Julia Child


Disclosure: As a Citizen Blogger for the International Food Blogger Conference, I received a reduction in my registration fees in exchange for agreeing to write a minimum of posts before, during or immediately following the conference, topic to be of my own choosing. This is the third of these posts. As always, all photographs and opinions are my own.

••• A big thank you to Foodista.com and Zephyr Adventures for putting on the event!

12 comments:

  1. Great recap! Weren't Kim's 'hard-boiled journalist' sayings fun? I missed Kathleen's session so it was good to get a summary here.

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    1. Hi Mary. Thank you! And yes, I thoroughly enjoyed Kim's speech. So entertaining and so on point!

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  2. Great recount of what you learned! Thank you!

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    1. Thank you, Dorothy! Though some of the material was more review for me, I did come away with lots of little gems that I plan to implement.

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  3. Great recap, Ani - thanks for all the hard work gathering and organizing so much information.

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    1. Thank you, Liz! It was a fun adventure!

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  4. Thanks for sharing such a meaty post. It did NOT taste like pool water. :)

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    1. OH, so glad it didn't! LOL... Thank you, Stephanie!

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  5. Good tips! The social media is hardest for me because I get busy with my full time job but I will try to do some of these. I have used words like yummy when I enjoyed something but cant think of other ways to describe something... creative food writing is hard work! :)

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    1. I know exactly what you mean Lynn. I use yummy myself, too much even. But I'm gonna try to get best at my taste descriptions.

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  6. You definitely come with exceptional articles and reviews.

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  7. One Google search led to another for 2016 food blog conferences and ultimately led me to your blog and this particular post ~ thankfully! I didn't go to IFBC 2015 but after reading this post, I feel like I did ~ and wish I had! Such great info - thank you!! As soon as I'm done with this post, I'm signing up to get 'confessions' into my email box. Great blog!!

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