I live in Coconut Grove. It’s a bohemian little neighborhood in the heart of Miami that has a lot of history (it’s where the original settlers of Miami made their home). It’s also one of the few truly walkable neighborhoods in all of Miami-Dade County.
Since it’s such a walkable neighborhood, my wife and I like to stroll through town and grab a drink and/or a bite to eat at least once or twice a week, and more often than not, we choose to do our drinking and eating at a little place called Lulu.
Like most enterprising businesses, Lulu has made efforts to stake their claim in social media real estate. They have a Facebook page, a Twitter profile, a Yelp listing, etc. But what makes them successful in their social media endeavors is their willingness to blend “real life” interaction with social media interaction.
What do I mean by this? Let me explain:
- The foundation of their social media is based on great customer service. They actually take the time to make me and their other patrons feel appreciated as well as build meaningful personal connections. Without that, no amount of Facebook updates will make a difference (Note: this also applies to enterprise-caliber companies, not just small, local businesses).
- They actively encourage patrons to engage with their social media profiles, including incentives for leaving positive reviews, check-ins, likes, etc. Moreover, they make it a point to entice their “power customers” (like my wife and I) to engage with their social channels, doing it in a tasteful and not overbearing way. And by the way, I’m referring to pushing interaction when we’re actually at the restaurant (e.g. discounts in exchange for pulling out my smartphone on the spot) as opposed to only pushing engagement via the social channels themselves. I believe that most companies, large and small, are dropping the ball in this regard, by either not setting up the technology to facilitate this interaction or simply not asking/incenting customers to do so via their smart phones.
- Most of their employees have a knack for striking up conversation with patrons. This is key in my opinion, because after all, the foundation of social media is talking, conversing, connecting, etc. It’s much easier to ask your customers to help you grow your online social media presence when they’re already real-life social acquaintances.
I usually don’t focus on small business marketing topics, since most of my time is spent consulting with enterprise-caliber clients, but I felt that this story was worth telling because it can definitely apply to companies of all sizes. Any company that has real-life employees that interact on a daily basis with real-life customers should take time to think through how improving the depth of those interactions can impact their online social presence, because social media is far more than just a marketing tactic; it can literally be infused into a every facet of a business.
P.S. I forgot to mention that in addition to helping grow their social media presence, Lulu’s approach to engaging with customers has also led to countless “real life” referrals of new restaurant patrons (e.g. all of the friends, family, and acquaintances that we now bring with us or recommend the restaurant to).
P.P.S. No, they are not a client of mine and I am not being compensated in any way for this post. I just thought it was a great example of the right way to do business (social media and otherwise).