Shay Carl Gives the Finalists a Tutorial in Viral Videos [Interview]

by in Interviews, June 24, 2014

Shay Carl, Alton Brown and Bobby FlayIn an age where everything seems to be available online, Food Network Stars also have to have a presence on the Web — it's a one-stop shop to talk with fans and share everyday activities, photos and Post-its.

This week's episode of Star challenged the finalists with two different social tasks: Create a behind-the-scenes video on the set of Food Star Kitchen, and film a viral marketing video at YouTube Space LA. No stranger to vlogging and creating viral videos, Shay Carl was brought in to help guide the contestants. Shay certainly had the resume for the job. He is undoubtedly a very popular and successful YouTube personality, with five channels of his own (two of them with more than 1 million subscribers each).

We caught up with Shay on location at YouTube Space LA to chat about his time on Star.

Star Talk: What's the one thing you really wanted to convey to the finalists?
Shay Carl: See, I had to be really careful because the director told me that they have to be responsible for their own videos. So I couldn't come in there and be like, "I think you guys should do this." And I don't want to do that (in case they get sent home and say, "Well that was Shay Carl's idea!" So it was tough because I'm a very opinionated guy. I just wanted to steer them in the path that they were already going down, without influencing their decisions too much. I was just there to give some tips and tricks, and help them with their training wheels. Imagine they're like a little child on a bike and this is their first YouTube round, and we're going down the cul-de-sac and I'm like: "Yup, that's good! You did it! Good job!"

What lessons learned (from your own personal experience) did you share with the remaining finalists?
SC: Well there's a few different things. In order for a video to go viral, it needs a good thumbnail and title. That’s like when you first meet somebody and you kind of judge them by their appearance. A video, thumbnail and title could be huge. In fact, when I was first starting out five years ago, some people made whole careers out of good thumbnails. Besides that (since the finalists are most likely not attaching thumbnails to these), I gave them some ideas with content. I gave them some tips and some pointers, and to be honest, they had some great ideas already banked — they all seem like they're very creative. In the small time I worked with them, they were all very enthusiastic people.

In creating a video, what do you not do?
SC: This goes without saying: You can't be boring. I always say to people, "If your mom and your friends won't watch it, what makes you think other people will?" Show it to your parents, go show it to your family and friends, and if they're like, "OK, are you done now?" there's something wrong. It has to be engaging and it has to be exciting. A lot of "ums" and breaths are bad. I tend to cut out any breaths that I have when I'm talking in the vlogs that I make. This is such a short-attention-span generation where people want it quick — so it has to be fast, in your face, fun, awesome and hilarious.

Each team had a different setup: classroom, lab and the apartment. Do setups really matter? Did any one team have an advantage?
SC: No. It all depended on their idea — the setting doesn't matter.

In a day and age where these finalists are really preparing for a future potential TV show, why are these Web videos so important?
SC: Sure, one of these finalists will receive a TV show if they win. But they still have to know how to do things online. If they're going to create a show and be a leader of that show, then they're going to need to know how to produce these things — they're going to have to come up with ideas off the top of their heads. This is great training for their future if they win. If you lose, well, you just go back to cutting cucumbers or something.

Bobby Flay mentioned that when he started at Food Network, he didn't really have to worry about these types of videos and social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But now he does.
SC: That's right. And now, it' a full-time job, but these chefs are becoming personalities outside of their shows on these platforms. They have their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, and they constantly need to feed — I mean, that's why they call it social media, you know, you have to be social. So somebody who is more closed off or introspective, they probably won't do as well.

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Comments (49)

  1. guest says:

    I get that the Food Network Star is going to have to have a social media presence, but somehow I doubt that they will start off with a candy bar commercial. I would think the idea would be to sell themselves first as some sort of celebrity chef, not tie themselves to one particular product line, which would most likely be counterproductive at the beginning of their network career. A viral video promoting each contestant's potential cooking show would have been more relevant, and informative as to both their entertainment value as well as their cooking ability/POV.

    • Buffy says:

      I thought the same thing when I heard the premise of the program.

      I have given this some thought. While advertising is a powerful tool, I have not been inclined to purchase any of the items marketed in any of the programs. In fact, I have not purchased any of the product brands. I used to like Reeces peanut butter cup. I am sure my mind has clicked to never make the purchase again.

      I don't buy anything from infomercials and I don't buy products that are featured in this type of format in regular programming. Yes, I fully aware of intentional product placement in the media.

  2. alamo annie says:

    I personally think this last was a waste of time and I felt sorry for the chefs having to do this. Please no more like this, can they cook or even boil water??

    • Bob says:

      Preach it, sister! Amen! Was half of the advertising staff about to be fired and this was a last ditch effort for a sponsor? I don't know. But it was a complete waste of time. We learned next to nothing new about the finalists.

    • Diann says:

      I agree - - in fact this episode was too painful to watch - I fast forwarded through most of it. How utterly humiliating to act like an idiot in front of a national audience. This whole season of Next food network Star has been awful. Finding a great cook doesn't appear to the goal this year - but making fools of the contestants and being shredded by the judges seems to be the objective.

  3. guest says:

    The social media presence that some finalists are doing already is better than the candy bar commercials we saw.

    • shannon says:

      That, my friend is a very good point!!!!!

    • Buffy says:

      Really? Truthfully, I did not see the connection to the candy. I am not talking about their efforts because they are not advertisers. We did not need to see commercials with depth, because the program was a 45 minute commercial.

  4. Inspector says:

    Isn't it interesting - how "Guest" keeps popping up so quickly in the very first 1 or 2 comments in these discussions?
    First here.
    Second in Justin's most recent recap.
    First in Justin's previous recap.
    There may be one than one guest. But even granting that, what are the odds? Looks fishy.

    • MoHub says:

      Not necessarily the same person. Anyone who doesn't register a name is marked as "Guest" on the message boards.

  5. Erin says:

    I have never heard of Shay Carl, what, exactly, does he have to do with food?

    • Erin says:

      I just followed the link above to his FB page, what utter garbage! Not a thing on there is worth reading. It's just a place for people to post nonsense.

      • Buffy says:

        Are you following the program?
        Are you enjoying the program?
        I don't follow links. The first episode may be posted. Perhaps, you can watch and some of the comments will come together.

    • Buffy says:

      Shay creates videos that interest the masses on YouTube. I don't have the complete details. I don't watch video links sent to me . I don't watch video links on FB. The mind is a terrible thing to waste and as a couple of people have said, " You can't un-see something" (paraphrased).

    • randall snoddy says:

      he doesn't have nothing to do with food hes a youtube star co owner of maker studios which is one of the biggest if not the biggest youtube networks he became famous mainly cause of his youtube channel shaytards and hes been doing daily vlogs for 5 years now with his family hope this helped

  6. Randy says:

    Horrible Episode - Embarrassing to watch - CringeWorthy - I used to enjoy this show - WTF - A Candy Commercial - The YouTube People, whoever that Shay guy is, and whole premise was completely Lame - I guess the Hosts did their best to Act their way through it and try to make serious sounding comments but surely they knew it was a complete waste - viral video BS - Sorry Bobby, Alton, Giada ( Who i Love! ) and producers, it's like you cut a big loud fart in front of the whole classroom on this one

  7. the Chairman says:

    Cook something. Explain a dish. Don't show me a boring skit. Was a little hungry but after watching the show the only thing I felt like having was an Alka-Seltzer.

  8. msjs0315 says:

    If I were a brand manager for a product, I would NEVER unleash a viral video expert and a group of TV chef wannabes on a project like this without providing a lot of input about the brand image and messaging. There was nothing for Hershey to gain from this effort and I'm surprised the company approved it.

  9. guest says:

    Doesn't the top picture in this link sort of remind you of Bobby Flay playing football?

  10. cheryl says:

    have read all the posts that have been written on the comment boards and it just comes down to one basic fact...if the food network is now thinking that expanding to social media sites with these kind of scenarios will win over a younger viewing audience they must think you're a bunch of idiots! I'm an old fart now, according to them, and even I don't think you deserve, or want, this kind of crap!!