Yes, this Florida restaurant has posted before, but they’re not actively posting. In fact, they’ve only posted once on their Facebook page in the past year, yet it maintains a steady stream of fans posting photos, comments and reviews…and all but one of the reviews are positive, tough to achieve in the service industry.
How do they do it? Well, it’s all because they identified and solved one problem almost every company has with social media.
One evening in late October, while walking the streets of Clearwater Beach, Florida, I found myself being lured to the back of a hotel parking lot by the distant sound of a man and his guitar – passionately playing island music. As I neared the back of the parking lot, the island music was joined by the sound of the waves softly colliding against a sea wall. As I turned the corner of the hotel, I found myself standing on the patio of Jimmy’s Fish House.
The large patio was full of customers listening to the music, laughing among themselves, eating fresh seafood and of course drinking various beach themed cocktails. The patio sits right on the Clearwater Pass, giving every seat on the patio a perfect view of the boat traffic as they entered the pass from the Gulf of Mexico. With the sun beginning to set, I grabbed a table and ordered a Rum & Coke. That’s when it happened, something so rare that it caught me completely by surprise.
While dropping off my Rum & Coke, the waitress said, “It should be a perfect sunset tonight! We hold a sunset photo contest every night. If your photo is chosen as one of the top 3, you can win a free drink, money off your tab, a t-shirt, things like that. All you have to do is snap a photo and upload it on Facebook, just tag Jimmy’s Fish House or post it right on our page”.
Over the next few minutes I watched as she told each table the same thing. It didn’t matter what age they were, she told everyone from the young family with their baby to the elderly couple that stopped in to celebrate their anniversary. And something amazing happened; every single table quickly grabbed their phones and began snapping photos… lots of photos, of everything. They were taking photos of the sunset, of the busy patio, of the man playing his guitar, of their food, anything and everything they thought might make a winning photo – and then began uploading them to Facebook.
Isn’t that amazing?! You’re probably thinking, “No, not really”. Well just hold on, Skeptical Steve, let’s think about this for a second.
All of these photos showed how great Jimmy’s Fish House is: the picturesque view they have of Clearwater Pass and the Gulf of Mexico, the delicious seafood, their signature Bloody Mary and all the fun that can be had there. These photos are being shared online to each customer’s friends, family, coworkers, etc. That’s potentially thousands of people who see photos of Jimmy’s Fish House each and every night – a much greater number than the 1,200+ people who like the Jimmy’s Fish House Facebook page. Isn’t that one of the main goals of social media – to connect with your fans’ connections? Jimmy’s Fish House nailed it without even being active on social media.
Jimmy’s Fish House realized a big problem that companies have with social media. Customers don’t actively search for companies to follow online. Companies need to approach their customers and ask them to join their online communities. This can be done online, but the best way to do this is to come out from behind the screens. Don’t try to track down your customers online, instead ask them to follow your company online when you are face to face with them. Let your customers know that your company is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. If you can, take it a step further, follow in Jimmy’s footsteps and motivate customers to go online at that very moment and follow your company’s social pages with a contest. The competitive spirit is in everyone – use it to your advantage!
A final word: Jimmy’s Fish House could benefit from taking their current success and building on it by being active on social media.
Founder of St. Louis Social Media Consultants.
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