Duce Raymond of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ on Using Social Media Like a Boss Interview with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Catering Culinary Director Duce Raymond about his fresh approach to social media content marketing and huge results with short video for the already world-famous brand.

By Shawn P. Walchef

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Takeaways from this episode:

The Meta Effect — All success stories include a little bit of coincidence. For Duce Raymond, lots of social media attention came after a Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce bottle was prominently placed in the background of a viral rebranding video by Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook (now Meta).

Pick One Thing — Duce Raymond, like most of us, tried to attack digital marketing from multiple angles and many platforms. However, a change in content strategy to focus on a single aspect of business has garnered amazing results for the Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Catering and other brands. From one piece of pillar content comes numerous other pieces of content.

Do The Right Things For The Right Reason — Sweet Baby Ray's is a family business. Duce Raymond has had the pleasure of working closely with his uncle, and Sweet Baby Ray's co-founder, Dave Raymond, who has provided him with valuable advice and words of wisdom that intersect business and humankind.


Sweet Baby Ray's is a household name. But even a world-famous brand has lots of room to grow on social media.

Duce Raymond learned that lesson when he was faced with the opportunity to expand the reach of his Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ company on social media.

The Raymond family helped build a company that is synonymous with outdoor cooking everywhere. The Sweet Baby Ray's famous barbecue sauce brand — which was sold to Ken's Foods in 2005 for $30 million — has become such a conglomerate that their hundreds of millions in sales, obviously number one, total the next seven brands' sales combined.

With an influx of technology and ways to communicate using social media for marketing, Duce Raymond (son of Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce creator Chef Larry Raymond and nephew of Dave "Sweet Baby Ray" Raymond) was faced with opportunities to increase the reach of their Sweet Baby Ray's Catering and Restaurant business.

Initially he tried everything, to no avail. But with the guidance of Gary Vaynerchuk, better known as marketing guru Gary Vee, and his VaynerX company The Sasha Group, Duce set out to employ a new strategy using mainly short videos on TikTok.

"We dabbled in social media," Duce Raymond says of their involvement prior to teaming with The Sasha Group on the Restaurant Influencers podcast hosted by Shawn P. Walchef of CaliBBQ Media. "We never put the attention to it to really grow anything on it. And I was ready."

Then there was a turning point. Duce Raymond and crew planned their entry into the vast world of TikTok using a short-form video show, "BBQ Like a Boss". Episode 1 of the show amassed an amazing 11,000 views as Duce gave viewers advice on the differences between Baby Back and St. Louis style ribs. The show's popularity grew rapidly and was able to garner over one million views on Episode 12.

In an effort to publish more valuable content, Duce decided to recreate his dad and uncle's legendary Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce recipe on video.

"I just entered all the ingredients. No amounts. No cooking times. Nothing. Just super simple." remembers Duce Raymond of the now-deleted video. "It blew up crazy! Within four days it had 5 million views. The comments were unbelievable. Everything was going crazy."

Little did Raymond know, things were about to get even crazier.

A few days after the aforementioned BBQ sauce video was posted, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook and a well-known barbecue fan, made the announcement that Facebook would be changing over to Meta. During the video announcement, there sat a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce in the background.

With Sweet Baby Ray's strong brand recognition being what it is, that bottle was recognized by millions online immediately. So much so, the still shot of the serendipitous product placement began to trend on Twitter and social media.

Once again, Duce Raymond got an up-close-and-personal experience with the power of social media. That encounter was enough to fan the flames of excitement for the SBR team to invest more money, resources, and time into creating valuable pillar content and continue to grow the brand presence in the social media space.

The tenacity and perseverance of the Raymond family lives within Duce, and he continues to carry the torch of his family's legacy with grace. He lives the advice given to him by his Uncle and business partner Dave Raymond: "Do the right things for the right reasons. No exceptions."


NOMINATE A RESTAURANT INFLUENCER — Do you know someone who is killing it on social media? Let us know by emailing influencers@calibbq.media or sending the @calibbqmedia team a DM on social media.


Restaurant Influencers is brought to you by Toast, the powerful restaurant point of sale and management system that helps restaurants improve operations, increase sales and create a better guest experience.

Toast — Powering Successful Restaurants. Learn more about Toast.

Popmenu is also a sponsor of the Restaurant Influencers podcast. We wanted to share with our audience this powerful opportunity to help your restaurant reclaim the power of your phone now. Learn more about Popmenu Answering.

Wavy Line

Shawn P. Walchef is the founder of Cali BBQ Media, podcast host, business coach, and proud dad. Since opening Cali BBQ in 2008, he has grown his San Diego restaurant and media company into a global brand using digital tools and smartphone storytelling. 

As a restaurateur who opened during the Great Recession, Shawn learned to use the power of the Internet to stay in business. During the Pandemic, Cali BBQ developed a scalable growth plan that is three times more profitable than the traditional full-service restaurant model.
Email shawn@calibbq.media to get in touch.

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