They tweet, then you eat
Chef Julian Medina of Yerba Buena Perry uses both Twitter and Facebook. (Ryan Thatcher)
We all know Facebook is great for connecting with long lost friends, but what about connecting with your favorite restaurants?More and more restaurants are reaching out to their customers with social networking sites such as Facebook (with 250 million active users, half of whom log on everyday) and Twitter (six million registered users). Mobile food vendors like Calexico Carne Asada (@calexicocart) and Treats Truck (@thetreatstruck) tweet their locations daily. Fans of Yerba Buena Restaurant in the East Village could follow the opening progress of its Perry Street offshoot, from menu edits to estimated opening date and invites to opening nights.
Those who “faned” Telepan Restaurant were the first to find out when Beet Pierogie came back on the menu. Klee Brasserie in Chelsea updates its Facebook page several times a day with postings and pictures that inform its friends of the dinner special.“It’s a great opportunity to reach directly to customers or to media or even to investors because everyone is on Facebook,” said Kate Telfeyan, a restaurant PR manager at Steven Hall Public Relations. “And, it’s also a great way to develop your brand.” Gail Schoenberg of Gail PR agreed: “Restaurants have to be smarter when marketing their brand. Technology is a great way to do this." Cary Rosner, founder of ULode, a software company that helps small businesses manage their social networking presence, offers a more compelling reason for the increasing presence of restaurants on social networking sites — it’s free. “Even if you decide to hire an expert to do this for you,” continued Rosner. “It will be far less money to do this, and more effective than putting money into an advertisement.” But not all media experts agree. Of the five top-rated restaurants on Zagat.com, only two have Facebook pages and none are on Twitter. One reason may be that the mature customer base of traditional fine dining restaurants prefers a more personal level of service than the younger DIY social networking crowd. “You still have to know who your customer is,” said Magdalena Spirydowicz of MST Creative Group. “If your customers are not using social networking…. it’s not an effective use of your time.” Chikalicious, a dessert bar in the East Village is not on Facebook or Twitter. Don Tillman, who runs the place with his wife Chika said they simply don’t have the time and resources to maintain a social networking page, although they are looking into setting one up. However, judging from the long lines outside the eatery, business does not seemed to be hurt. One upside for restaurants that use social networking is that it enables fans and followers to post comments, bringing the diners that much closer. But before you complain about last week’s overcooked fish or under-grilled meat on the restaurant’s Facebook wall, remember that the page is still closely monitored by administrators. “We can remove anything that is disparaging or negative,” said Telfeyan. “Or, if it’s legitimate, we’ll talk to the restaurant about it and get them to work it out.” “This is the future of doing business,” Schoenberg said. Five Reasons to be a Restaurant’s Facebook/Twitter Friend
1. Bargains and deals: If a restaurant is running a deal on a limited basis, Facebook fans or Twitter followers will be the first to know. Example: Tonight and tomorrow night, in honor of Fashion Week’s end, Boqueria’s two locations are offering a complimentary glass of Cava to all diners who mention Twitter.2. Off-the-menu items: Check out pages like the one Fatty Crab (2170 Broadway. NYC) maintains, and you may find cured cuttlefish that is not on the menu. 3. Special events: Followers of Allegretti’s (46 W. 22nd St. NYC) twitter page and fans of Bar Buloud’s (1900 Broadway, NYC) Facebook page can learn all about the wine events that take place at these restaurants. 4. Dinner and drink specials: Fans of klee Brasserie’s (200 9th Ave. NYC) Facebook page will never have to ask the waiter to repeat himself or herself. 5. All other strange stories: The strange case of the missing goat that appeared on the Cabrito’s (50 Carmine St., NYC) Facebook page may not enhance your dining experience, but it certainly makes for good dinner conversation.
Who’s the Fairest of them all?
Can’t decide where to eat for dinner? Users of Citysearch may notice the recent sprawling, more encompassing new format.
The site not only allows potential diners to view the menu, make reservations and share the page with friends, it will even let them email the business and link it up to social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace. iPhone user? Yes, there’s an app for that.
Citysearch believes it gives the potential diners a more balanced perspective as each restaurant page offers three separate views: The Owner’s, The Critic’s and the User’s. The sets the site apart from others like Yelp, which only offers the User’s reviews; and Facebook pages, which are set up by the owners and publicists; as well as traditional news and magazine sites, which only give the Critic’s opinion.
But, a recent phone interview with Kara Nortman, Senior Vice President of Publishing on Citysearch revealed that a restaurant’s support and privilege is based on the level of advertising dollars it put in.
Citysearch will do everything from helping business owners craft their views to allowing them to get back to the users. Is that more balanced than a site that offers just the User’s or Critic’s review or the Restaurant’s view? You decide.