I came to the UK in 2010 from India - for my Master’s Degree in Economics from Manchester Business School.
At that time, Facebook was the platform to keep in touch with my friends and family; Instagram was just getting launched so I wasn’t as familiar with it; Twitter was to follow celebrities; and I had a WordPress Blog which I had created as a teenager to share morbid poetry.
During my Master’s, I developed a passion for cooking. I was one of the expat students who missed home-cooked meals and even though Britain’s national dish is curry, it was not what I ate growing up in India. I started making short videos of my cooking adventures and uploaded them to my WordPress Blog - Shrimoyee’s Scrapbook.
The year after, I discovered Instagram and Facebook Pages, so I created accounts on both platforms to draw some attention to my rather amateur cooking videos. At this point, I had graduated with a Master’s Degree and started working with WPP where I learnt a thing or two about link building and Search Engine Optimization. I started practicing those skills while writing my blog posts; for instance, I wrote guest posts for other food blogs and asked popular bloggers to write a guest posts in exchange. Soon enough, I realized I had a regular following on my blog which led to brands approaching me for product reviews. I didn’t accept all of them, only the ones that were directly related to food. Imagine if you have a food blog and suddenly review a motorbike? That doesn’t really make sense. I was regular with my posts – once a week and that followed with the usual social media shares. By this point I had also discovered LinkedIn.
Here are some of the key steps I followed –
- Write a post
- Check the meta tags within the post (Same as concept as Instagram hashtags)
- Make sure you have the keywords related to the subject you are writing about (in my case it was Indian Food) in the heading and first paragraph of your post.
- Collaborate with other bloggers/ brands in the same industry or sector
- Share everything on ALL social media platforms. But make sure the messaging is different for each platform.
- Follow other people, their work and comment on their work too.
The blog had gained some momentum by now and I started getting noticed by some TV channels - which gave me the confidence and encouragement to make better quality videos with professional film makers, including one that I made for a popular dating site.
Meanwhile, I started following and reaching out to some popular food writers and food editors of newspapers and magazines. I started writing some articles pro-bono, just to get my name out there (SEO) through which I got interviewed as a blogger for a piece on The Independent where I had mentioned I wanted to do a food Pop Up – that was the new ‘in’ thing at that time.
They ran the story and once it was out I had to follow through with a Pop Up. I approached a bar owner if he would come let me cook in his kitchen one Sunday afternoon and he magically agreed – voila! I then went on to make a promo video for the pop ups with some friends and then started promoting that on social media – the making of the film, the cooking process, the photos of the place everything. This generated excitement amongst the people who were following me and Calcutta Street Pop Ups were born. I repeated the entire process for all my pop ups over a year and I did about a dozen. This led to some substantial press coverage in BBC, The Telegraph and a few others, soon enough people started recognizing me as the Calcutta Street girl, all thanks to the power and reach of digital media.
I didn’t want the hype of the pop-ups to die, and was keen on exploring the next steps – and the natural progression was a restaurant.
However, I didn’t have the finances, so needed to raise a capital of £500K to open a restaurant in central London. Social Media came to rescue yet again.
Remember how I started sharing all the posts on LinkedIn? When I started approaching investors or people on LinkedIn for investment, most of them had already followed my journey for a few years so it didn’t come as a surprise to them that I was now starting my restaurant. All the press articles helped too. And after some rigorous self-promotion and work, I managed to raise funding. When the press release about my restaurant opening was released, it caught on within the media world and we got featured in every top newspaper and magazine within U.K (The Sunday Times, Evening Standard, Financial Times, The Daily Mail, Graziaetc ) and internationally (Verve,Bloomberg,The Telegraph).
Digital Media can do wonders for any business or individual who has something to sell or a story to share.