Play to your fans on social media
By Giorgio TavernitiFeatures Business and Operations Marketing annex giorgio taverniti
Social media is the key to marketing a successful business.
Everyone is already on social media for fun, so why not use it to your pizzeria’s advantage?
Business owners need to think of their fan page as if it were TSN or CBC News. Your friends and followers are your fans, and fans need to know up-to-the-minute facts and events that are happening. They need to constantly be receiving great content, tips and a steady stream of information in order to keep the momentum of your page and business going.
You can use your Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat account to announce monthly promotions, introduce new staff to your fans so that when they visit your pizzeria they will already know the new staff by name, and share information about new food items or pizza toppings you are trying out.
It’s crucial to engage with your customers online as well as with others in your industry. Reach out to fellow business owners, vendors and potential new clients. Check out their pages and posts and leave comments to encourage an open, friendly dialogue, all the while keeping you and your page and business relevant.
If you follow a food magazine or brand on any social media platform, comment on how great one of their articles was or how much your customers love their product.
I have had good results using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat: my business has grown by about 20 per cent since focusing on these tools.
In 2015, I was one of the first users of Meerkat, a live video stream app. Through that app, I gained a lot of new customers, but the best part was the pizzeria got more attention when we were featured in Inc. Magazine, an international publication. On Twitter I interact with food bloggers: they come in, try our pizza and feature it in a special pizza edition of their blogs.
Social media platforms are great forums for open discussion, but it’s important to be positive when posting comments. If someone has a negative comment on a post, try to put a positive spin on it. For example, when reacting to a negative comment on service, try saying, “We’re sorry to see you don’t agree” or “How can we improve on our service? Do you have any tips?” You’ll create more positive energy if you’re sincere and thoughtful in your approach to customer posts.
It’s also important to constantly maintain your online presence. You should update your pages at least three times a week.
It can be tricky to find time to be online. I spend about an hour online in the morning between coffee and getting the kids to school. I post during downtime in the afternoon and at night after work. When we’re not busy, I give my staff an extra 20-minute break so they can take photos of pizzas or food items coming out of the kitchen – or photos of themselves interacting with customers – and post those photos on our social media platforms. If you find an interesting article and are short on time just save it and post it later.
Choose a mentor you can look to for guidance and who is capable of offering helpful insight to point you in the right direction. Gary Vaynerchuck, for example, has been an inspiration to me.
Vaynerchuck is a successful entrepreneur who was one of the first to use YouTube to build an audience to sell wine to. Now he runs several social media agencies and helps small and big brands develop an interactive presence on the Internet.
His best advice? Be consistent and present on all platforms you’ve chosen. Be where your customers are. Ask them if they are on Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat.
The trick is finding your ideal audience. Once you have an audience that is intrigued by your pizzeria’s story, the possibilities are endless.
Giorgio Taverniti owns Frank’s Pizza House in Toronto, which has been in his family since 1990. A graduate of George Brown College’s culinary management and Italian culinary programs, Giorgio helped found a popular pizza-making workshop at the college and ran it for three years.
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