Getting your business on social media isn’t just something that happens overnight.
Ok, maybe it is – but reaping the the rewards of a social media presence certainly isn’t as simple. Why? Because having a social media presence is much, much different than having a social media strategy. Whereas anyone can make a Facebook page or sign up for an account on Twitter, it takes extra care, effort and planning to execute a content strategy for your profiles. To do it right means you’re taking full advantage of a digital demographic and enhancing your business, but to do it wrong could prove detrimental.
To make things even more complicated, there is no single social media strategy that is applicable to all businesses; a business to consumer model would manage their social media in a completely different way to a business to business model, while a business in the service industry would do it differently from a business selling toys, for example.
When it comes to my two favourite restaurants this side of Toronto, social media is used in two completely different ways – one that is unconventional yet effective, and one that is conventional but ineffective.
The Waterfront River Pub and Terrace is a beautiful gastro pub located just south of the centre of Napanee, Ontario. Opening within a historic limestone building right upon the Napanee River, I had the pleasure of working there as a server for two summers while studying at Queen’s in Kingston.
Their social media approach is… ecclectic – but it works. Jane Adams Roy, the owner of the restaurant, is a vibrant yet to-the-point woman whose years serving in the Canadian Military rubs off only in her management style, but not in her people skills. She’s warm and extremely personable, which reflects in the way she manages her restaurant’s Facebook page.
Napanee is a small city of around 15,000 people and the Facebook page caters primarily to that community. If you’re not part of the Napanee community, their social media presence makes you feel like like a part of it. While The Waterfront is every bit a community pub, the food, craft beers and decor hardly reflect that; with Jane’s social media approach to personal, wacky, and non-corporate engagement with their digital audience, the restaurant simultaneously manages to be up-scale, yet innately rooted in community.
Although The Waterfront doesn’t make use of Twitter or Instagram (where their delicious food could most certainly be photographed and posted) AND they don’t make much use of proper hashtags or tagging in general, the communicative skills they employ on their Facebook page has made the pub a surprising success, growing from 200 likes to nearly 6,000 in just under two years.
My other favourite restaurant in the Kingston/Napanee area is not quite as effective on social media despite being open for decades longer and with a far more esteemed reputation. Wooden Heads is located in Kingston’s historic downtown area right by the water and has an exceptional modern-Italian cuisine that I’m literally craving at this very second – but that’s only because I’ve been there.
Their Facebook and Twitter pages are practically barren despite being updated frequently. How is that possible, you ask? The only pictures or updates going on either page are the daily specials… and that’s it. Sure, the specials are a fantastic way to get your existing followers keen on coming to the restaurant for something new, but it’s not a way to grow your business’s digital presence.
In contrast with the Waterfront River Pub and Terrace’s social media efforts, which has seen their Facebook following go from 0 to 6,000 in the short three years that they’ve been open, Wooden Heads has around a mere 2,250 following on Facebook and very little engagement – and it’s been open for over 22 years.