Pictures, like the one below from BBQ Exchange, are always recommended
Answers to others’ questions.
Nothing frustrates me (or the common social media user) more than when they face a lack of responsiveness. A while ago I asked a grocery chain for the location of their food truck. I asked via Facebook. I asked via Twitter. I wanted to know THAT DAY. (I was hungry).
A week passed and I finally got a response.
Not good enough.
If you’re going to have a presence online in a local market as a restaurant serving the people in that market and the many people just passing through, you must have someone dedicated to being present online in that space.
Every. Single. Day.
I know, it’s hard. But gee, you have people eating in your restaurant every day. You have people cooking and washing dishes and serving in your restaurant every day. So get on it. Be present, and watch your business grow.
Revolutionary Soup is by far, the leader of the pack. Will’s Blog is featured as a main element of the restaurant’s website, with the passion and philosophy of restaurant owner Will Richey coming through loud and clear. The blog is not updated often but posts are thoughtful and have a single-minded purpose, sharing the process of bringing locally grown and nurtured food to the community. Three categories say it all: local, Rev Soup Farm and seasonal specials. I’m particularly impressed with Rev Soup’s website – a design that incorporates a page for reviews, suggested beer and wine pairings and daily or seasonal specials. (It’s no surprise when, upon investigating, I learn that the site was done by my very talented friend Michael Davis of Yellowfish.)
There’s some opportunity for the Corner account to improve its bio, add a photo, increase followers and friends — but assuming that the focus is primarily on the downtown location, I focused on Twitter.com/@RevSoup. I like the way the account is being used, with tempting descriptions of recipes and daily soup offerings, mixed with observations from Will like, “Marker drawing all over my fav cook book. Should have known the 2 year old was not as impressed with Tournedos Rossini as I.” This kind of tweet, and indeed, all the real interaction from Will and the staff on the social web humanizes the brand and builds its loyalty. One might argue that the soup and sandwiches do that on their own, but if you’ve never been to Rev Soup, you don’t know that, do you?
When there’s more to say than what will fit in a Tweet, the restaurant uses its Facebook page, a smart way to use the additional presence — and to share good content with nearly 500 fans.
The BBQ Exchange is off the beaten path out in Gordonsville and, if you’re not inclined to leave the city of Charlottesville, a destination brand designed to tempt you on a short road trip with delicious smoked pork and spicy fried pickles as a reward. Craig Hartman is using Twitter and Facebook to get the word out to a broader audience than those in the immediate vicinity, a smart strategy for a restaurant that also serves customers’ catering needs. The restaurant has integrated its tweets into the home page of the website as a way to keep the home base of the online presence fresh. You can follow BBQ Exchange on Twitter (not recommended for vegetarians as main topics include pork, bacon and pork. ) As proof, here’s a recent Tweetcloud from the account:
Last, but certainly not least is one of my personal favorites, Beer Run. While the operation’s website leaves a lot to be desired, and does nothing to point fans to its presence in social media, Beer Run’s Facebook page updates have driven me to tastings or special events on more than one occasion. It’s disappointing to see Beer Run’s Twitter account so underutilized – there are thousands of engaged Twitter users in our community and yet Beer Run is following only one other user. I challenge Beer Run to get connected to the Twitter community by following and engaging with them, tapping into the power there to promote events or to boost traffic when business is slow.
While this is merely a selection of restaurants using social media well in a couple of ways in the Charlottesville area, I’m sure there are more that are worth a mention. Let me know in the comments if there are any I should see.
C & O Restaurant has a blog, which has post from May and . . . November. Can we expect that posts will now pick up with some regularity?
Maya is on Facebook but they have set up a profile, not an official page for the business (this is the wrong approach — read more about pages vs. profiles here). One shouldn’t have to “friend” a restaurant. You can like a restaurant, but it’s really tough to be friends with it (you never call me!)
Escafe has a blog. OK, not really. I’m sorry I made you go look, but they should be, too.
Downtown Grille surprised me with a Facebook page and a Twitter presence. This old-school, steaks, bourbon and cigars establishment doesn’t seem like it would be leading the pack in social media use, but indeed, there they are. While I’m thrilled to see Downtown Grille using Twitter, there’s room for improvement with more frequent tweets and interaction — I want to be tempted to come to the restaurant with tweets about menu items and specials. Just a reminder of the fabulous meals I have had there makes me want to go.
This is a selection of some of the finer restaurants in Charlottesville – others, including Ivy Inn, Hamilton’s, Fleurie, The Local, L’Etoile, have no discernible social media presence, other than the throngs of locals and visitors blogging and tweeting about them, posting their visits to their Facebook profiles or checking in on FourSquare.
In upcoming posts I’ll look at what other, more casual dining establishments are doing with social media and how it’s working for them. I’ll also share some tips on what these businesses could be doing, to gain a competitive edge and remain top of mind with those dining out in Charlottesville.