The Most Important Social Media Lesson from the Movie “Chef”

Reflections about the film and social media’s role in building a brand image.

By Frank Gullo

The Jon Favreau film “Chef” is a delectable movie about a talented chef who loses his way, only to find a new culinary edge for his cuisine through unexpected sources: a food truck, and a cross-country road trip from Miami to Los Angeles. While the love and craft of food are forefront in the film, social media plays a prominent role in Chef Carl’s transformation. Through personal posts, images, and video, Chef Carl is able to rebuild his public image.

The film offers great insight into social media’s role in building a brand image. Like so many other tools, social media is purely instrumental and reflects the truth of our passion, desperation, and love. This is why Chef Carl is able to come back from an epic rant in a public restaurant at a critic that is recorded by nearby cell phones and posted to social media. As bad as that was, people responded to the raw emotion and understood that Carl was genuinely expressing how he was feeling and wasn’t faking it. People loved him or hated him, but they weren’t indifferent to him.

The viral social media popularity following Carl’s outburst serves him well when he reconnects with his son and rediscovers his love of food on a food truck specializing in Cuban sandwiches. Carl is genuinely happy making delicious Cubano sandwiches and spending time with his son, who captures these moments and posts them on Twitter, YouTube, and Vine. By showing their personality as their brand, they build a strong, organic following.

It’s noteworthy that while Carl comes to recognize and encourage his son’s marketing prowess, his son does it foremost because he loves getting to know his dad and wants to capture the bonding so the experience will last. The food and the images from the road trip serve to reinforce the love of family and food, and the surge of social media popularity and customers lining up at the food truck (after some smart posting and geotagging) show that people will respond to personal stories that are relatable.

So, while you can analyze “Chef” and pull out a list of a dozen social media dos and don’ts, for me, there’s really one, overriding lesson. Do something you love.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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