Social Media is a Two-way Street for Restaurants

July 8, 2009

Full Disclosure – Caster started working with the Cheeky Monkey because it’s close by and our entire agency loves the food, ambiance and especially the owners.  The colorful restaurant is an independently owned eatery that relies on local food vendors when possible and treats every patron as if they are a WJAR, channel 10 TV celebrity (who also happens to be a regular).

Cheeky Monkey Logo - high res

Earlier this week, blogger and Rhode Island social media expert Cheryl Phillips wrote an article titled, Social media replaces traditional advertising for The Cheeky Monkey restaurant. In the piece she talked about the benefits of social media for small businesses (especially restaurants) from a cost and outreach perspective.

Phillips states, “An advertisement in a newspaper lasts only until it goes in the recycle bin. Radio is a great advertising medium but it’s costly and the target market has to be just right…Facebook? It’s free. Yes, it takes work to keep up the fan page but it’s interactive and customers like to feel involved. Twitter gives a more immediate message to the public and can also direct people to the Facebook site. The networking possibilities with social media are endless and it’s working in a big way for The Cheeky Monkey Restaurant.”

While everything Cheryl says is right on, the point I’d like to highlight is the two-way communication that exists with social media engines. Because this article has NOTHING to do with a wine dinner, new menu or other tangible restaurant event, one might question how much it can actually help the bottom line. This thinking is outdated and naive.

As a result of the article being spread virally, the Cheeky Monkey saw significant increases in newsletter requests, twitter followers and FB fans over the three-day span since it was posted.  While new Cheeky people may not immediately translate into more seafood paella or grilled Moroccan BBQ Atlantic salmon being sold, their choice to engage and be engaged is as valuable as any coupon or print ad.  The need to be interesting, topical and value-conscious is imperative for the restaurant but there is no better long-term strategy for growth than direct, back-and-forth communication with customers, especially loyal ones. And each new follower who’s never visited has the potential to become a loyal customer.

From a big picture perspective, as the Cheeky Monkey network expands, the restaurant will be able to offer more value to patrons and ultimately cater to their whims whether it is adding new dishes to the menu, giving away coupons/gift certifiates, hosting themed events or throwing a “Loyalty Party” for customers who follow the social media efforts (as they did last week).

No matter if you’re working for Comcast, Domino’s Pizza or the Cheeky Monkey restaurant, there is some form of social media that can benefit your business. However, unlike traditional media, social media is a two-way street and you can’t expect customers to blindly support without some kind of incentive, whether it’s informational or monetary. 

With that in mind, to keep growing your knowledge of new media, the Cheeky highly recommends you follow Cheryl Phillips on Twitter (@thedailyblonde) and read her social media blog (always looking for RI success stories).

For those looking to jump the Cheeky Monkey bandwagon, your support is welcome:

Twitter: @CheekyRI

Facebook: Cheeky Monkey Fan Page

Posted by: Nick Brown