Miamian Sef Gonzalez, AKA Burger Beast, might not be the burger "king," but he has definitely turned his love of burgers into a growing social media empire. In a span of 15 months, thanks to his clever use of social media networks, the humble beef patty has become the focus of Burger Beast online and offline communities.
Burger lovers have gathered around Gonzalez for feeding frenzies, including reconnoitering tours to joints such as Royal Castle. Burger Beast even threw an awards ceremony at John Martin's -- complete with fancy plaques -- where a friend of his proposed to his girlfriend after eating a few sliders.
Silicon Beach caught up with the affable Gonzalez at Charm City Burger in Deerfield Beach yesterday.
New Times: There's all this talk about you being a social media whore because you get so much attention. What got you started?
Sef Gonzalez: I would eat burgers everywhere I went, and my wife suggested that I start a blog. She came up with the name actually. It was her idea.
NT: Today, you're on MySpace and Twitter, and you have a Facebook fan page. How have social networking sites been advantageous to you in promoting your cause of all things burger?
SG: It has been great. The best part about it is interacting with people. Especially on Facebook and Twitter -- I get instant gratification when I write something and people respond.
NT: How many people have you connected with that you would've otherwise never met without social networks?
SG: Tons and tons of people.
NT: How do you use social networking sites?
SG: I was on MySpace and I don't think I attracted as much before until I started Burger Beast. Once I did that, I knew I had to get the name out there as much as I could. I started Facebook and then moved on to Twitter. I still have a learning curve with Twitter; I recently started posting pictures using Twitpic. There's always something new to learn.
NT: I suspect the community you've created is only going to get larger. Is it really about the burger, or the community you've created about the burger?
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SF: It's both. I go to a place and if I love it, I want everyone to know. I want everyone to come try it, and I want everyone to see why I like it so much. So I think that's where the community part of it comes in.
NT: Hands down, right now and today, what's you're favorite burger place in South Florida?
Gonzalez: Charm City Burger.