5 Rules for Maximum Community Engagement

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"Our audience does not follow us, we follow them," insists this founder. 

By Natalia Arrias Camps (Co-founder, MolecularRecipes.com)

When we started MolecularRecipes.com two years ago, it was simply a blog to store and organize recipes, research and photographs. We did not expect that people would actually use our recipes, show appreciation for our efforts and ask for more. More importantly we did not realize that, as we were teaching our readers modernist cuisine, they were shaping the vision of our online business.

MolecularRecipes.com is a site dedicated to molecular gastronomy. For the unfamiliar, molecular gastronomy or modernist cuisine uses physics and chemistry to transform the textures of food and create new and innovative dining experiences.

In the process of developing our recipes for the site we found ourselves part of a community made up of chefs, scientists, students and home cooks. All of them equally interested but engaged for different reasons. We realized that we could create content that was interesting and relevant to each of the groups. And more importantly, there was no other website in the molecular gastronomy space that was filling this gap.

Our community let us know what they wanted and taught us how to build a company around our blog.

A year and a half later our Facebook community has grown to over 110,000 fans. How? We systematically employed five specific guidelines when creating content to keep the community engaged and growing. Here is what worked for us:

Get to Know Them

In order to create relevant and unique content, we interviewed many chefs from around the world. In getting to know them we not only learned about their creative process and cuisine but also their struggles finding products and inspiration. We reacted to their needs with a site full of creative ideas and a wide selection of products.

Relevant content brings an opportunity to not only source and develop new products but also to create partnerships and increase ad revenue.

Get to Know Their Associates

We also discovered that some chefs work hand in hand with scientists from universities. These scientists, usually from the chemistry or engineering departments, work with chefs to create new experiments that can change completely the way people experience food. Knowing that, we approached these professors and helped them promote their work and latest papers to our community.

Learn who your customers interact with. This expanded audience offers increased opportunities for unique content, new partnerships and products.

Let Your Community Show You New Applications for Your Product

Many teachers and professors have reached out to us through our community for ideas and suggestions on incorporating molecular gastronomy into their science class syllabi. Many even wanted us to give presentations to their students as inspiration for final projects. We even had an opportunity to give a lecture about molecular gastronomy last year at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, presenting to the Science and Cooking class and giving students the opportunity to publish their projects on our site.

Provide opportunities for your audience to be advocates. Invite users to actively participate in your platform.

Respond to Their Needs

We receive many questions about the chemical properties of specific ingredients. Others have questions about experiments that don’t work as expected. Some just want to know where to find a product. We always get back to them, no exceptions. Sometimes, this will mean doing some research or reaching out to our partners or advisors. We become their go-to resource which keeps them engaged, learning and coming back for more.

Become your audience's point of reference by being responsive.

Surprise Them

For us, the creativity in a recipe or a presentation of a recipe such as our Scallops with Dashi or the Cocktail in an Ice Sphere (pictured above) is the biggest engagement factor. Any occasion in which we can give them a radically different dining experience is likely to be a huge success.

Unique, creative and original content keeps members of your community coming back for more. Never stop surprising them.

Well, there you have it. That is how the vision of MolecularRecipes.com unfolded. By carefully listening to our audience we were able to provide content, products and inspiration that were exciting and relevant to them. And most importantly kept them coming back.

Our audience does not follow us, we follow them.

How do you keep your community coming back for more?

Headshot2.2About the guest blogger: Natalia Arrias Camps is co-founder of MolecularRecipes.com a site dedicated to molecular gastronomy. Our vision is to make molecular gastronomy accessible to everyone by creating a platform where chefs, scientists, students and home cooks can find inspiration, share content and buy products.