If you're a food-obsessed Singaporean, chances are you would have come across video recipes of local dishes on Facebook produced by The MeatMen. These videos of local favourites such as chendol and Hainanese chicken rice are beautifully shot with close-ups of ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions all set to a jaunty tune.
The four men behind the popular videos are Tan Jun Jie and Lennard Lim, Chris Lim and Kiat Yingda. They had been exploring business ideas together but nothing quite took shape until they decided to do something based on their collective interest – food. Videos came naturally as Jun Jie is from a pre-production background.
After three years of running it as a side business, the men decided to go full-time last year with Jun Jie in charge of production and Chris doing account servicing. With over 489,500 Facebook followers and counting, it's clear that they're doing something right.
Jun Jie, one of the speakers at the upcoming F&B Disrupt @ The Bay 2017 event on 16 June, acknowledges that luck may have had a small part to play in their success. "We were lucky that we caught on to the wave three to four years ago when videos weren't as popular on Facebook as they are today," he says.
Luck aside, the men were also savvy enough to know that they had to set themselves apart from their competitors. For the MeatMen, that meant focusing on niche content. "We found that we got good response doing local recipes because there wasn't a lot of that material back then," says Jun Jie.
They differentiated themselves even further by doing away with having a host. "There's too much talking in other recipe videos. When I watch a food video, I'm only interested in how the food is prepared."
Their winning strategy has led to a large fan base and a vibrant online community of food lovers who share tips and recipes on the company's Facebook page.
While there's no formula for creating viral content, after cranking out some 270 videos, the team has learned that content relevance is key. "If we do a ravioli recipe and a wanton recipe, definitely the wanton recipe will get more viewership in this region," says Jun Jie. "You need to understand what content works for your audience."
Ultimately, everyone is after entertaining and informative content. "If you're able to catch their attention and provide them with content that is either enriching or entertaining, the audience will be more receptive to your end message," says Jun Jie.
He's seen this happen first-hand with their videos. They constantly receive queries from fans who want to know the brand of the equipment used or where certain ingredients can be found. "They want to recreate the recipe and use the video as a point of reference. It's not like we're saying, ‘Use this pan to create this dish'. There's nothing more powerful than third party endorsement."
Now that they've conquered the local landscape, the team is eager to expand and replicate their success in regional markets. "In every region, people want to learn about their local cuisine. They want to know how street food is made. The model of creating content is the same but first, we have to understand the audience."