How social media is like a recipe swap: Wanna slice of pie?

Do you get rumbly in the tumbly when you think of social media gurus such as author Chris Brogan or L.A.-based entrepreneurs Stefanie Michaels -- better known in the online world as Adventure Girl -- and Shira Lazar, named one of Fast Company’s 2011 Most Influential Women in Technology? 

You might after you see their latest project: A cookbook. It probably goes without saying that it is, of course, a digital e-cookbook (and an iPad app.)

The social media big wigs are sharing some of their favorite recipes to raise money for the homeless. Profits from the $2.99 cookbook go to Mark Horvath, the Los Angeles-based founder of Invisible People, an organization hailed for using social media to help give the homeless a voice, as well as more tangibles like sandwiches and socks.

Brogan said he joined the project (sharing his Poor Man’s Shepherd’s Pie recipe) because it was an opportunity to help out a personal hero -- Horvath. "The idea was, how else can we use these tools, these social media tools, to make a difference,” Brogan said of the e-cookbook.  


But it’s also a Social Media 101 lesson that could have easily come from the pages of Brogan’s new book, “The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?” being released later this month. The new book is about harnessing the power of social media in ways that are both entertaining, helpful, truthful and effective. The result is a boost to the bottom line through more clicks, more “likes,” more shares and, yes, more sales.

“The question is, you’ve got all these fans and followers and Facebook friends, but what are you doing with them?” Brogan said.

Brogan said Horvath and his work, which takes him around the globe to address homeless issues, illustrates this point.

If Horvath did nothing but hold out his hand and ask people for money, it would get old, Brogan said. But the project “helps with donor fatigue,” Brogan said. "It’s so simple, but he’s one half of that impact equation.” The project was produced by L.A. entrepreneur and Bakespace founder Babette Pepaj, via her her Cookbook Cafe app, which allows nonprofits to make e-cookbooks and iPad apps for free.


Brogan added: “Businesses of all kind have something to learn from this.” People are being tired of being pitched to and sold to. Instead, Brogan said, businesses succeed when the play the “long game,” connecting with consumers and actually getting to know them, and vice versa. That goes for a dry-cleaning business trying to gain new customers, or a nonprofit that must continually try to raise funds.

“We buy from people we like,” Brogan said. “And you learn a lot from people about what they eat, and what recipes they make. You learn another dimension about somebody.”

Horvath chuckles when he’s told about Brogan’s comments. To Horvath, he and Pepaj were just reaching out to fellow social media power users without pestering them for too much of their time, or money. They just asked for a recipe to be used in an e-book and iPad app.

There are 18 cookbook contributors in all, include Claire Diaz-Ortiz, who oversees social innovation for Twitter, and social media authors Amber Nuslund and Jason Falls.  

“I like that [consumers] can download something for a couple of dollars...It’s tangible,” Horvath said. “How I measure success is getting people to talk about homelessness. Homelessness isn’t sexy unless it’s Thanksgiving. I’m just so grateful to each and everyone that took time out [to contribute a recipe.] And I’m extremely grateful to anybody that downloads it.”


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