Off the Grid Serves up Sizzling Content Using Social, Mobile & Email Marketing


In June of 2010, Off the Grid (OtG), a popular San Francisco-based “roaming mobile food extravaganza” (and VerticalResponse customer!) opened their first three markets. They say the concept was created “with the simple idea that grouping street food vendors together, similar to an ‘Asian night market’ would create an experience that would allow neighbors to connect with friends and families to reconnect with each other.”

Fast forward to today, and Off the Grid now operate 23 weekly markets in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, with more than 150 food vendors.

This kind of rapid growth doesn’t happen by accident, but with a carefully orchestrated marketing plan involving social media, a mobile app, email marketing and word of mouth. Like a robust recipe, Off the Grid’s successful content strategy doesn’t contain just one single ingredient. It mixes a combination of content created by their own team, as well as user generated content from attendees and food truck vendors.

Take a look at OtG’s Twitter feed. It’s a consistent steam of updates, as well as retweets from vendors and attendees touting locations, menu options and pictures of delicious food.

Off the Grid's Tweets

Off the Grid's Tweets

Off the Grid's Tweets

Off the Grid's Tweets

Mosey on over to OtG’s Facebook page, which boasts over 64K likes. Here, you also get a taste of content being shared by the organization, vendors and the people who love them.

Off the Grid's Facebook Posts

Off the Grid's Facebook Posts

Off the Grid’s content is really smokin’ on their Instagram feed, and for good reason. They share mouthwatering pics that are easy to share, comment on and like. It’s not unusual for their posts to get hundreds of likes. They also share pictures before, during and after the events to attract attendees, as well as get current attendees to try even more of the delectable goods.

Off the Grid rounds out all their social media efforts with email marketing. They have a prominent opt-in form located on every page of their website, and they mail numerous times a week to keep their 40,000 subscribers coming back.

Off the Grid’s email marketing newsletter sign up form

Off the Grid's email marketing newsletter

Lastly, OtG serves up content to their followers and fans via their mobile app. The app provides foodies with information, schedules and updates about upcoming street food markets, and available vendors in their vicinity. App users can follow their favorite vendors or markets, and receive push updates with vendor lists, fun things to do in the area, and more.

Off the Grid App  Off the Grid App

By providing a variety of content, including events, food and vendors, Off the Grid continues to fuel their patrons appetites, and the company’s continued rapid growth. Have all these examples made you hungry to serve up some sizzling content of your own? We’d love to hear about what you decide to dish out in the comments section.

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Facebook Security Engineer Michael McGrew Serves As ‘Penetration Tester’ At Security Competition


WRCCDCLogo650Facebook Security Engineer Michael McGrew and a colleague attempted to hack the Western Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, but their intentions were pure: After discovering the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition while he was a junior in college, McGrew started a club and brought a team to the WRCCDC, so his stint as a “penetration tester” was almost like returning to his roots.

McGrew described his experiences in a note on the Facebook Security page, as well as providing a list of similar security-oriented competitions for students.

He wrote:

The best security education helps students connect their classroom knowledge to real-world situations, and entry-level security jobs increasingly expect some hands-on experience. Not all school curricula today include these opportunities, though, so students often look outside of the classroom to build and solidify their skills.

I found myself looking for these same opportunities when I was a junior in college. I came across the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, a defensive security competition that puts teams of students in a mock business environment. The program challenges students to run their business while protecting their network and systems from a team of professional penetration testers looking for vulnerabilities. I started a club at my school and formed a team to bring to the Western Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. After practicing and reviewing strategies for a couple of months, we attended the competition and learned a ton. It set me up for other competitions and extra-curricular activities that prepared me to enter the security professional field.

In recognition of the value of these types of learning opportunities, Facebook helped sponsor the WRCCDC competition at the end of March. My colleague Javier and I joined a team of penetration testers attempting to breach the students’ systems. The challenging environment exposes students to hands-on experience with enterprise equipment. Teams are constantly under pressure to keep the business running smoothly and to secure and maintain their systems while defending against attacks. This simulation teaches teamwork, time management, risk assessment, and core technical security skills. Whenever we managed to get around one of their defenses, we were peppered with questions from the students: “How did you get into our server?” and “How can we secure our network from what you were doing?” Giving informal tutorials about security defenses and best practices to talented and passionate students was the highlight of my experience.

McGrew also offered the following list of related events:

  • CCDC: CCDC is a defensive competition for teams of college students to protect a mock business network against professional penetration testers.
  • CSAW Capture the Flag: CSAW CTF is an entry-level Capture the Flag event designed for undergraduate students.
  • U.S. Cyber Challenge: Cyber Foundations is a series of tutorials and quizzes for high-school students to learn about security and test their skills. Cyber Quests is an online quiz where the top-scoring participants are invited to a week-long camp with classes taught by SANS instructors. Registration is currently open for Cyber Quests.
  • CyperPatriot: CyberPatriot is a competition for high-school students where teams address real-life cybersecurity situations in a virtual environment.
  • MITRE Cyber Academy: MITRE Cyber Academy hosts annual competitions for high-school and college students that allow teams to compete against each other in different hacking challenges.
  • National Cyber League: The NCL provides an ongoing virtual training ground for students to develop, practice, and validate cybersecurity skills using lab exercises aligned with individual and team games.