Among a group of friends recently, someone cracked a joke that no one else thought funny. Another in the group sighed, rolled her eyes and said, “Hashtag don’t quit your day job.”
If I write for you what she said, the girl’s whamp whamp whamp to the other’s joke would look like this: #dontquityourdayjob. # is a hashtag and the newest addition in our ever evolving social vernacular as both a noun and verb interchangeably. People are hashtagging this and that across social media forums and now, apparently, even in face-to-face conversation.
The hashtag actually serves a greater purpose than the number sign on our keyboards. Like the @ sign integral to email, the # is fundamental to more recent online connecting spots like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. It is a search tool, and there is a hashtag for just about everything. You can go to a forum like Pinterest and search for anything that catches your fancy with the #.
Introducing #dentonfoodtours and the newest Twitter byproduct, Periscope. There’s a story here.
Veronica and Jake are two of the Denton CVB social media gurus in our Communications Department . They live, breathe, sleep…and eat it. Eating is how this accidental phenomenon was born. Long ago, Veronica and Jake became lunch buddies. Several times a week, they take off for lunch, often with a group of friends. They test new restaurants in town, experiment with new foods. It’s their thing. And because they are natural social media addicts, their thing always includes taking pictures of their food before they dig in and posting them on their social media channels with various hashtags like the popular #dentoning or perhaps #nameofrestaurant where they dine that day.
The CVB publishes lists of restaurants as a service to our visitors, a job that requires a constant eye as restaurants open, change locations, or go away. It was working on these one day when Jake proposed that they set the lofty goal to try every restaurant on the list, hundreds of establishments long. Undaunted, they began tackling it with their tastebuds and smartphones, and people started paying attention. Followers shared their posts and began commenting back that they, “just had to go try that dish” after seeing Veronica’s or Jake’s post.
Their growing popularity in the Denton foodie world inspired them to create their own hashtag for their lunch outings. After settling on #dentonfoodtours, their number of followers grew, and the audience began posting their own Denton dining faves with the hashtag.
Then a couple of months ago, #dentonfoodtours made a giant leap. While in a marketing campaign meeting with some of our partners, Veronica and Jake heard about an emerging live video component to Twitter called Periscope. With their existing Twitter accounts, a pain-free app download and sign in, presto, they were in.
Periscope is like live TV. Veronica was sucked in immediately to a real-time video called “Pug” about a puppy just like her own little Pugly. Within hours of the Periscope discovery, Jake was at LSA Periscoping a band on the rooftop deck with 64 followers joining his episode before the first song was over. The next day at lunch, #dentonfoodtours went from static pictures to two-minute live episodes playing now to an average audience of 200 people every time they eat lunch!
Veronica and Jake tell me there are up and downsides to their new star status. Besides feeding their own lust for Dentonesque eateries, their favorite upside is the audience interaction. In real time, followers can ask about the food, service, ambience, even the restrooms. And they interact with each other too. “Hey, Sarah, let’s go there for date night,” for example.
The biggest downside is that it is live. What you see is what you get, including mistakes. Like the time Jake asked Veronica what she ordered, and she could not remember the name of the dish. Luckily, the server intervened. The wait factor is also a drawback. When hangry sets in (so hungry you border on angry), they hold back their forks and shoot the episode before eating. The old lunch gang hangs back on tour days for just this reason.
People often ask how they choose their restaurant for a given day’s tour. It goes like this: “What are you in the mood for?” In other words, it is impromptu, unscheduled and unsponsored. It’s an authentic, organic show unlike anything you would ever see on Food Network. The other question they get a lot is, “How do you stay so fit eating out all the time?” I can answer that one. They earn it. Veronica is a runner, and Jake has a trainer.
They are beautiful, funny, and love sharing food adventures. It’s a thing. Join #dentonfoodtours live on the Periscope app, or watch the episodes later on Discover Denton’s Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram.