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Social Media and the Independent Restaurant

Social Media and the Independent Restaurant

Andrew Garrison

4. Is a Facebook fan-page a useful marketing tool in your opinion? What can an independent restaurant do to get the most out of it?

Jonny: A Facebook fan-page will only be a useful marketing tool if you make it useful to your audience. If you’re going to setup a Facebook fan-page, you must commit to updating it and providing good content. In the Facebook environment, users are drawn to pictures and video. Make sure those are a part of your Facebook strategy.

When starting a Facebook fan-page, find some of your close friends to help you start promoting it by asking them to become fans. This will help jump start your fan-base.

A great way to get the most out of your Facebook page is by creating spreadable content. When users find something that is of value to them, they like to pass it on. A good example of spreadable content could be a special promotion or deal. It could even be an event with your restaurant.

Tip: Try to get a local celebrity or news personality to become a fan of your restaurant and you’ll see a nice jump in fans.

Tyler: Sure, as long as you use it for something novel. Too many companies don’t. They just toss the responsibility to the youngest worker bee, but why should she give a shit? She’s being paid horribly and is constantly under threat of losing her job. Independent restaurants could easily become top dog by using Facebook, but it’s just a tool.

Again, strategy first. “Who is our primary customer base? Do they exist on the Internet? Do they care about us enough to visit our Facebook page? Or should we try and harness a different group who use the Internet more, but maybe don’t know us very well?” Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, these are all just tools. If an independent restaurant really wants to get the most use out of Facebook, they better have a damn good reason to be on it in the first place. If they have a damn good reason, and a damn good person running their Facebook page, I guarantee they will get the most out of it.

It’s all just a matter of connecting with people. No one gives a shit about your restaurant dude, sorry. Well, maybe your mom does. But everyone else wants to know about you, why you make the decisions you do, why you put basil instead of garlic in the recipe, why you changed the # of seats. Why don’t I follow Microsoft on Facebook? Because I don’t care about their company, it’s too huge and they’ve got nothing to say as a company. But I follow Bill Gates on Twitter, because he’s making huge strides in human rights advocacy and has something to say that I care about. Don’t worry about the people who don’t care about you, not everyone is going to like you or care about what you have to say. Just focus on the people that do care, and care back. You will succeed so much more than the people who don’t, I promise.

(By the way, that’s something we need to collectively stop doing. We all – everybody – assume that young people are good with technology. Trust me, they’re not. I worked at a college IT Helpdesk for 4 years, and young people are just as dumb & helpless with technology as their parents. They just use it more.)

5. Aside from cooking great food, how can a chef/restaurant make peace with the food blogger without pandering to them?

Jonny: Making peace with the food blogger may be an ongoing struggle but one step in the right direction is to reach out to the food blogger. Accept criticism as constructive feedback. When a blogger writes something up about your restaurant that is negative (or positive), you have the great opportunity to acknowledge and respond to them. Instead of lashing out, try to address their concerns. You’re not always going to make them happy but in the social channel, a lot of the times people just want to be heard.

Tyler Act like they’re your grandmother. Respect them as a human being and act decent. In the grand scheme of things, your food isn’t a big deal. F***ing up a relationship over your food is. Decide, right away, whether you want to interact with this person or not. Don’t hover in the middle. Either develop a relationship with them or don’t, depending on what you feel is best. If you mess up, at least you were committed 100% and they can still respect you for that.

6. What the hell is Foursquare? And does it do anything for a chef/restaurant owner?

Jonny: Foursquare is a location based social platform that allows users to “check-in” at commercial establishments and receive points and badges. Foursquare users can become the mayor (within Foursquare) of different establishments if they check-in often enough. It’s important to ensure that your restaurant’s information is correctly represented on Foursquare. Overall, I think the verdict is still out on how restaurants can truly benefit from Foursquare but here are a few things you can utilize.

Customer Monitoring:

  • Find out who’s been to your restaurant and follow them on Twitter.
  • Find out what people are saying about your restaurant by checking out the ‘Tips’ column


  • Customer Rewards and Benefits
  • You can claim your restaurant on Foursquare and offer specials and promotions for frequent visitors. Either way, keep an eye on Foursquare because there will be more features coming out in the following months.


  • Andy Now here’s what I’d do with it. Sign up for the businesses part if you can. Make sure all the information for your restaurant is accurate. Sometimes people make their own locations so you can have duplicates or incorrect information for the location. Make sure it’s all correct.

    Then, periodically check out the website to see who is “Checking-in” to your restaurant. Make sure to let people know that you can check-in on Twitter. If you see someone check-in who has a prominent twitter account or is an “influencer” find them in the restaurant and give the a free drink.

    Someone did this to me one time when I was in Punch Pizza. I checked-in and the manager came over to me and asked, “Are you AndySantamaria on Foursquare?” When I said yes he gave me free pizza on the house. I then let my twitter followers know that checking-in to punch pizza could randomly result in happiness.

    I’d just do it sparingly. Maybe look into setting up a promotion for people that become mayor of your restaurant? Check out the bulldogNE on foursquare.

    Tyler: Foursquare is the most disgustingly awesome digital tool (yet) to come alone (so far) for businesses catering to customers. It is a smartphone app that determines the phones location via GPS, and estimates what locations are nearby (e.g. restaurant, bar, convention center, barber, event). Many apps do this. Foursquare’s unique value is that it created a game on top of all these locations, allowing any user to digitally “check in” at these venues. This may seem pointless. It’s not. It’s useful for consumers and for business. For example, bars can see – among Foursquare users – who “checks in” the most at their bar; this person is called the Mayor. Businesses can reward their Mayor by offering a free drink whenever the Mayor checks in on Foursquare and shows their check-in to the bartender. As a consumer, I get a free drink. The game aspect really comes into play when more people check in, fighting for the Mayor status. That’s just the beginning.

    Follow us on Twitter and check out our websites for more fantastic (mostly) relevant content!
    Andrew Garrison (me) – @BooomCity
    Andy Santamaria – @andysantamaria
    Jonny Thompson- @jonnytee
    Tyler Hayes – @thetylerhayes

    Follow Chef’s Blade on Twitter, too! – @ChefsBlade

    Many thanks to Tyler, Andy, and Jonny for take the time to offer up their opinions and expertise.