Gourmet Magazine’s closure last year “presaged the death of magazines,” lamented Jeff Jarvis in a blog post about the end of the longest running food-magazine in the United States. As the social web increasingly democratizes publishing and empowers anyone to become both a producer and consumer of content, the media industry is scrambling to develop new business models. And so, right now the industry is in experimentation phase.
This September, Gourmet returned in a totally new incarnation as Gourmet Live– an iPad based “interactive content experience around food and food culture” that combines social gaming, premium real-time recipes and stories, and the best of Gourmet Magazine’s content. Inspired by Foursquare, the app uses rewards to engage their audience and drive the future development of recipes, stories, and apps. Designed to create a constant conversation between the publisher and their readers, the development team welcomes and encourages user feedback.
Could these be the ingredients for prosperity? After speaking with Kelly Senyei, Content Producer for Gourmet Live, I’m convinced that this digital magazine is iterating its way towards a recipe for success.
From the moment I met Senyei, her passion for the project and dedication to engagement was clear.
“Gourmet Live provides this perfect trifecta of quality culinary content, interactivity via social media and a rewards concept that has readers earning additional content as they explore the app. This allows readers to engage not only with Gourmet Live, but also with each other,” says Senyei.
Issues come out on a weekly basis- offering her a unique opportunity to provide users with brand new and original recipes for each holiday. She also does exclusive interviews that allow her to share the inside scoop with readers. Senyei is excited about their newest feature- the Gourmet Live Socialvores, a handpicked group of food tastemakers that have been invited to help identify trends and build community.
A feature I find particularly interesting is the team’s innovative use of Foursquare to open up the app’s content and recommendations. According to Juliana Stock, founding General Manager of Gourmet Live,
“Our presence on Foursquare has been useful for Gourmet Live in reaching our fans that may not have a personal iPad. With Foursquare, you can appreciate and collect location-based tips from Gourmet Live on multiple devices.”
While most magazines tend not to update their recommendations, according to both Stock and Senyei, their tips are updated on a weekly basis based on their rich content and interviews.
In the spirit of keeping their finger on the pulse, Gourmet Live brought in social media maven Emily Cavalier to help lay some of the groundwork for their Foursquare recommendations. When asked what the most interesting part of working with the team was, Cavalier responded:
“This team is incredibly responsive to the marketplace and to what their fans and users want and need to see in the application. It’s been really refreshing to work with a group of people who really care about what they’re shipping and putting out there every day. They are creating something that lies in that delta between art and technology, and it really makes you question whether there’s a difference between the two. They are like the Dream Team of modern food media, in my view.”
What’s next for Gourmet Live?
According to Stock, “Geo-location is certainly something that we at Gourmet Live have talked about. It’s a very exciting idea to have a tailored reading experience with Gourmet Live depending on whether you are in Madrid or San Francisco, and see this as a place for future iteration.”
While only three months old, I’m excited to follow Gourmet Live as it matures. Lean and iterative like a startup, I’d say this team is on their way to revolutionizing the creation and consumption experience.