That restaurants are using social media to get their message out is nothing new. As soon as any business owner realizes that networks like Facebook and Twitter provide an outlet and advertising at a low cost -- only the man hours it takes to set up a feed and gather and interact with followers and fans -- they jump in thumbs first.
But just participating in social media doesn't guarantee success. While some restaurateurs wear their twitter handle like a glove, others have an odd relationship with the internet. When a taco place tweets that they'll be serving tacos tonight (or something similarly mundane), it goes over like a lead SMS balloon. There are a lot of open-mic-comedy-night awkward silences when it comes to restaurant updates.
Worse, internet projects can go viraly negative. A recent McDonald's twitter campaign to leverage the hash tag #MCDstories backfired some. "I haven't been to McDonalds in years, because I'd rather eat my own diarrhea," one person wrote.
At the same time, other restaurants garner followers and retweets by the thousands. Jay Jerrier at Cane Rosso may have the largest social media presence of any Dallas restaurant, and he's reaped plenty of coverage because of it. Is the coverage because his pizza is good? Or because he tweets many times a day from behind an avatar depicting a cute red dog? Probably both.
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Before Twitter and Facebook became available, restaurants had to type up press releases and buy adds in newspapers to reach out to their customers. These actions took time, thought, and planning, and they were typically collaborated on by professionals with an eye for marketing.
Social Media, however, has no filter. A late-night tweet lubricated with a little booze can go up in a few seconds. Tweets and posts about special events can be posted without examining whether or not the message aligns with the larger image a restaurant is trying to convey. And often personal twitter accounts become associated with restaurant personas. When Brian Luscher tweets about eating burnt ends or finding Lord of The Rings Pez dispensers, is that interpreted by his followers as a personal piece of information, or an endorsement from the Grape?
If you have a favorite local restaurant that you follow on social media -- or one you're ready to unfollow -- let us know in the comments. Or, you know, Tweet it.