Food & Wine & Facebook & Chat

By Steve Smith

Facebook continues to evolve as a communications platform that publishers now use for many of their direct interactions with users. For instance, Food & Wine is using its presence on the social network as a location for regular live interactive events starting tomorrow (Friday, December 17). The brand’s Facebook page will host a live chat with New York chef and owner of Scarpetta and Faustina Scott Conant.

The hour-long chat starts on Friday at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern). Conant will field live questions from visitors. He will also share recipes from his new Las Vegas restaurant D.O.C.G. and offer holiday cooking tips. Food & Wine‘s Facebook page has over 120,000 friends.

The Facebook chat is a cross-platform editorial campaign, extending a feature on Conant in the December Food & Wine, which is also at the Web site and on the magazine’s iPad app.

The magazine brand will continue the series every month with scheduled chef interviews. Food & Wine has already used Facebook as a chat platform. Last month, it hosted talks with Grace Parisi.

While the chat project is not sponsored, Food & Wine is working elsewhere with such clients as Bacardi on high-impact projects involving Facebook. The Mix and Share site at Facebook offers party tips and recipes from Bacardi and F&W special projects manager Gail Simmons. The site’s aim is to raise funds for the USO in support of troops overseas.

While 2009 and 2010 have been years when magazines discovered Facebook and used the network to drive traffic, 2011 will likely be the year that publishers treat the site more as a publishing platform. As users spend more of their day with their Facebook pages on, media brands will have to follow them there and bring more content onto the platform. The challenge for media companies will be monetizing that experience even when they engage readers off of the brand’s familiar home Web site.