Two Social Media Lessons From the Movie “Chef”

Chef the new comedy movie that premiered recently is a great case study on how social media can destroy and build up reputations.

Some call the movie “food porn”, others a documentary on how to make a good cheese toastie or is it a giant product placement for Twitter?

Sure the movie features a strong lineup of Hollywood A-List stars, including Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, and Robert Downey, Jr and a soft feel good storyline.

But what it did for me though was make me hungry and make a beeline for the first food truck I saw in my hometown of Perth.

In fact, I went surfing at the glorious Leighton Beach on a Sunday morning soon after seeing the movie and there was a Brazilian food truck there called Comida do Sul.

I couldn’t help but stop and have something to eat based on the movie experience!

New media technology has long been fodder for Hollywood movie makers.

Think You’ve Got Mail in 1998 and its narrative on the way digital communication could impact lives.

Meanwhile, blogging was brought centre stage with Julia and Juliet.

Now Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Vine are central to this movie and the concept of shared experiences.

Chef is the story of a man whose life is ruined and then redeemed by social media.

The movie represents digital communication onscreen in an elegant and simple way as onscreen tweets materialize in the air and then, when sent, fly off like a bird.

Chef is written, produced and directed by Jon Favreau who plays the main character Carl.

Here are 10 Lessons from Social Media from the Movie:

1. Twitter is Not Like Texting or Email

The story goes that Chef Carl is an aging Generation Xer who lives his life mostly offline.

He has an email account and knows what YouTube is, but he doesn’t understand how social media works or what its value is.

This becomes apparent after he fires off what he thinks is a private tweet to a food critic who gave him a particularly vicious and personal review.

In real life Favreau considers himself “pretty savvy” with social media-he maintains an active Twitter account with 1.7 million followers.

Compare this to his onscreen counterpart Carl who is completely unschooled in exactly how public an ill-considered tweet can become.

2. Viral

There are four types of media – paid (advertising), owned (your own created content/websites), earned (PR) and shared (social).

The first two are controlled media where you control every image and message.

The second two are uncontrolled and this presents a risk.

With PR you can try and reduce the risk by writing a media release and doing media training but when social media goes viral you have no control over its distribution and what comments will be made.

In the movie, Carl’s obscene rant goes viral, and an online war of words ensues.

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