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Wiley Cerilli

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Social Media Marketing: 5 Restaurants That Get It

Posted: 03/14/11 10:30 AM ET

You're an expert chef with a beautiful restaurant, friendly staff and great food. In the past, you've successfully managed your customer flow through traditional advertising in local newspapers and you sponsor the local little league. Business is great, but a similar restaurant just opened up a few blocks away, and it's generating lots of buzz. The restaurant is using social media to its advantage, growing its customer base at an accelerated pace, and you're starting to lose market share. What's going on?

The Internet is the great equalizer, giving unlimited ad space and airtime to businesses no matter how big or small. Today, 70 percent of local businesses are marketing through Facebook -- more than anywhere else on the Internet.

It's one thing to have a social media presence, but it's another to manage it correctly. These sites are living, breathing entities. If you pay them attention and perform proper maintenance, then they will remain healthy and grow at a steady pace. With this in mind, social media-savvy restaurant owners are acquiring and retaining new customers at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.

So what have been some successful social media marketing strategies? Here's a list of restaurants that are leveraging social media sites to make a name for themselves in the digital space. If you're creative -- and attentive -- you too can differentiate your restaurant from the place down the road.

Zengo
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Zengo, a Latin-Asian fusion restaurant in Manhattan, realizes that Facebook is a platform for two-way communication between a restaurant and its clientele. Zengo expands and retains its customer base by actively posting events, recipes, interesting stories and Facebook-specific specials for their fans. The Zengo Facebook page always has up-to-date menus, photos, and hours listed. Loyal fans can even make reservations and sign up for Zengo's mailing list directly through the Facebook page.

The odds are that you probably have a Facebook page if you're reading this blog post. The real question is whether you have more than just a phone number and address on it. Facebook is not the YellowPages. There are over 500 million active Facebook users -- 50 percent of whom are logging on everyday, hungry for content to interact with. As a restaurant owner, engaging these users is crucial for your digital business.
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