I recently returned from a trip to Portland, Oregon, my first time in that fair city. I visited museums and landmarks, hiked in the magical hills, contemplated bountiful gardens and ate some seriously amazing food, but I skipped one of the first things I’d put on my “must see” list: I did not go to Voodoo Doughnut.
Even after being chided by someone who said, “Going to Portland and NOT going to Voodoo Doughnut is like NOT going to Powell’s.” I did, for the record, visit Powell’s City of Books. It is huge, overwhelming and I could happily live there and read for the rest of my life.
Why did I not go to Voodoo Doughnut, one of the most notorious treat shops in Portland?
After talking to local friends, they made it very clear that Voodoo Doughnut had a great gimmick, but that’s all it was. If we were looking for adequate donuts shaped like a blunt or crusted with Fruit Loops and we wanted to stand in line for an hour to get those donuts, go for it. But if we wanted a really good donut that we couldn’t get anywhere else, we should go to Blue Star Donuts. Like Voodoo Doughnuts, the shop closes when they’re sold out of product. But unlike Voodoo Doughnuts, there are no goofy shapes, the flavors are top-notch, super creative and change regularly and there is often (and shockingly) no line to get into Blue Star Donuts.
And here is why Blue Star Donuts has my undying allegiance –
They make their donuts using French brioche dough, fill them with gorgeous creams and top them with things like luxurious Valrhona chocolate ganache with little chocolate “crack” balls, blueberry basil Bourbon glaze and salted caramel with chunks of hazelnuts. I got teary when we finished because I didn’t want those donuts to end.
No offense intended to Voodoo Doughnuts or the people who love them, I think they’ve got a great gimmick on their hands. It’s paid off for awhile and it will pay off for awhile longer. But gimmicks can get old quickly, especially when a new gimmick comes along and the original notoriety fades away. And when your gimmick is no longer in the spotlight, the pressure is on to come up with another, then another, then another.
So, what can donuts teach us about social media?
Quality over quantity
Every successful social media gimmick (Chipotle’s faux Twitter “hack,” for example) spawns countless imitators with varying degrees of success. That’s not original nor is it authentic. It is, however, forgettable.
When you’re ready to ditch the social media gimmicks and build your authentic, carefully crafted and original voice, let me know. I can help. In the meantime, I’m going to my happy place to think about those amazing donuts.