Restaurants and Social Media: Heavenly Match

Chris Brogan is a highly respected social media veteran; he has posted a great video of a discussion about social media between himself and Joe Sorge, who runs AJ Bomers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a few other restaurants in town.

Original post by Chris Brogan here
Direct link to the video here

Restaurants, Bars and Social Media – A Match Made in Heaven

Built by Twitter

Joe Sorge, in the video, matter-of-factly proclaims, “AJ Bombers was built by Twitter.” He explains that AJ Bombers and some of the other restaurants and bars he runs owe most if not all of their success to the power of Twitter. He uses Twitter to promote specials, and to promote his other restaurants for those people that may not want to come out to AJ Bombers that night.

Social Media Promotion Ideas

  • First, make sure you include your Twitter address everywhere your name appears: menus, blackboards, websites (where you have a link to your Twitter and Facebook pages), Facebook pages (and you should put a link to your Facebook page on your Twitter page), put it everywhere.
  • Offer a prize for people who follow you. For example: “Follow us by 5pm cst to be entered to win a free dinner for two on us!”
  • Promote a Twitter-only special.
  • Promote a Facebook-only special.
  • Ask followers for feedback on something specific. You could ask them if they liked the new menu items, or if they would like to see a particular band come and play.
  • Promote a happy-hour event, a new or returning band. The key here is to make these different each time. If you promote the same thing every day, people will tune you out.
  • “Twitter Tuesday” is an easy to remember slogan that can be very powerful to use
  • Use your businesses name as a #hashtag and encourage everyone to use it. Put a monitor up on the wall in your location and stream mentions of your businesses so that everyone in the place can keep up while they are there.

Your Own Social Media Community

A really cool way to encourage a community following via Twitter for AJ Bombers was to let people put “Twitter graffiti” on the walls and tables of the bar. People wrote their Twitter names and all sorts of self-promotion, names like @ironcupcakemike and @jungbow are all over the walls at AJ Bombers further engraving the concept of the tight-knit community of people that have been or regularly go to AJ Bombers.

If you aren’t comfortable letting people write on your walls, find some other way to encourage your patrons to connect with each other outside of your location. A great way to do this is to come up with interesting to-dos on Foursquare – a new social media tool designed specifically for the purpose of connecting with other people in the same geographic area. Come up with Foursquare Mayor Specials and promote them on Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare.

Interact, Involve, Improve

The critical factor to successfully building a social media community is to make sure you reach out to your customers. Ask them questions. Thank them when they mention your business. Give them helpful suggestions. And even more importantly, listen to what they are saying. Involve them in your future planning; what items should you put on your menu, what specials they would like to see, etc. Improve you business by interacting with your community, involving them in the future success of your business.

Not Just Food Service

Retailers, hair and nail salons, department stores, grocery stores, even specialty designers can take advantage of forming an online community using social media tools. Take this example of Rebecca Minkoff, a designer and founder of Rebecca Minkoff handbags. She posted this message to Twitter:

Rebecca Minkoff Twitter Promo

And 3 minutes later she posted this message to Twitter:

Rebecca Minkoff Twitter Promo 3 Minutes Later

Considering the fact that most of her items sell between the $300 and $500 price, she was able to produce at least $750 in sales (minimum) in a span of 3 minutes. That’s the power of Twitter and social networks.

What About You? How Are You Building Your Online Community?

Have some other creative ways you’ve seen Twitter/Facebook used to generate business through the use of a community? Add to the conversation in the comments below.