Friday, April 8, 2011

School Gets an A+ for Social Media

You know what I love these days? Restaurants that "get" social media. You know the ones that understand the importance of interacting with their customers? The ones that embrace this "whole new world" of Facebook and Twitter, and realize that "Hey, you know what? It's 2011. We gotta keep up with the times, step up our game, and start doing things differently". These days, having a website is sometimes not enough; it serves as a good starting point but there are many more ways and avenues to engage with customers.

Not going to name names, but one time, a restaurant owner and I were talking about the opening of his new restaurant. He had websites for both his current restaurant and his new restaurant, but nothing beyond that. So I suggested to him the benefits of Facebook and Twitter, and how getting involved in it can really help get the news out about his new restaurant. He immediately shot the idea down, telling me it is not necessary and that he simply does not have time to do all that. 

OK people, this is not some hole-in-the-wall type restaurant, it is a pretty established restaurant in the neighbourhood so all I can say is:


Now, turn 360 degrees with me to a restaurant not only does social media right but embraces it in every way possible. School (formerly School Bakery & Cafe), in my opinion, sets a really good example as to how when social media is done right, it can do wonders in terms of attracting and engaging with their customers. Last week, School launched a whole new look and revamped their website. I love it! All their food pictures make me drool =D

Right away you should notice the "Tweet" and "Like" buttons that are easily accessible beside each School event, making it extremely convenient if you want to let your tweeps and/or Facebook friends know about it. Also, you can easily Like School's Facebook page from their homepage so that you can keep track of their news and upcoming events. Notice that School has free wifi, which I think is absolutely essential these days (especially for people like me who love to tweet and post pictures when I'm at a restaurant). Instant feedback is where it's at!

School also has a whole section called "Schoolville" dedicated to social media; a place where everyone can be involved and have fun in the "Schoolville community". Their Twitter (@schoolville) and Facebook icons are promptly displayed on top.

Check out all the "COOL SHIT @ SCHOOL" =P
  • The Student Gallery - If you send School your school picture, you will automatically get a coupon for a free baked treat with your coffee. Once a month School will pick one lucky winner from the gallery for a complimentary dinner for four!
  • foursquare - If you are the mayor of School, you will get a free dinner every month (value of $40). Even if you're not the mayor, simply show your foursquare check-in to the server and receive a free baked treat (see pics of their baked treats here, they are soooo yummy!)
  • Pop Quiz - A fun and quick way quiz! My vote is "CHOCOLATE"
  • Recipe Lab - Handy recipes section which I know I will check often

    The VIDEO VAULT section is where you can submit any video you have from your last school trip and School will post it. I'm old now so this section does not apply to me =(

    The SCHOOL BLOG is pretty much self explanatory. Currently, their blog features Amy Pataki's flapjacks article on The Toronto Star, my Cheese School blog post, and the head chef Brad's "Spiced Grapefruit Crepes with Cream Cheese" recipe. By the way I'm totally honoured to be on there #^_^#

    I think it would be great if all restaurant owners realize the importance of social media these days and how it is essential to build a strong online community by engaging their customers through Facebook and Twitter.

    Lastly, I need to let everybody know that I AM NOT affiliated with School in any shape or form. I genuinely love their food and what they are doing in cyberspace. That is all ^_*


    clickflick said...

    Stella, this is a great post. I think more restos need to embrace in some form "Social Media" and the tools that are usually free. I love School.

    Mackenzie Chiu said...

    Great Post Stella! I totally agree with you on one hand... a great example is @table17... I've never heard of it... but recently the "community manager" replied to a couple of my tweets and we had a very fun, light and informal conversation and it has driven me to go and actually try this place. I think humanizing the experience is a big thing with SM and it definitely worked with me and @table17 as I seamlessly set up a reservation for tomorrow for brunch directly through twitter.

    On the other hand... I KNOW there are places that don't necessarily need it.. For example Burgers Priest has ZERO SM involvement and has no interest at all in getting into it, and yet they are busy ALL the time. The simple fact of the matter is that they are just too busy... and their community has embraced them already and basically the SM world does the work for them. Every time someone mentions Burgers Priest on any platform.. people respond and feeds go crazy.

    I think the biggest thing that restaurants need to realize is that regardless of what they think.. people are using SM avenues to talk about them. And they need to realize that at the VERY LEAST they should be listening to what is being said.

    foodieyu said...

    I agree. There are restaurants that do not need to be involved in social media, especially small mom-and-pop places that are already well-known for what they serve and have a good reputation already. Most of these, I would say, are places that specialize and excel in one thing or product, and through the word of mouth, they become the "go-to" place for it. I think those places do not need to be involved in social media. And yes, like you said, nobody can ignore social media anymore.

    Karen said...

    wow right on....all restaurants should read this post...btw you're not old:P

    cant wait to check out school ever since i read ur post been dying to go there

    Ronaldmiu said...

    I want to eat those short ribs next time there for sureeeee

    joanne said...

    School's blog looks pretty cool. I had no idea they were so progressive. Still haven't made it out there though. One day soon....

    I know what you mean about people being resistant to Twitter and other forms of social media. A few people I know want nothing to do with Twitter. They just don't get it. They say Facebook is enough for them. Twitter is nothing like Facebook. Twitter is more interactive. It's like you have your own broadcasting channel.

    School should hire you to do their PR or to be their official spokesperson lol!

    Brian Pho said...

    Hey Foodieyou,
    Been following your blog for awhile. I agree that Social Media for Restaurant perspective is very important to the attract the right Clientelle. School is doing a fantastic job in the social media space that makes it quite different than any other restaurant. However, my one concern is the following:

    As a restaurant, most of the demographic that SCHOOL is catering to are young, urban professionals that are living in Liberty Village. Most of these people actively use Social Media (twitter, facebook) so having SCHOOL aligned embrace this medium is critical for any restaurant. (There is a demographic and an audience for SCHOOL that that actively participates and uses social media).

    You forget to mention 'What happens when your core 'demographic' does NOT follow social media or social media trends (let's say business and engineering professionals in the Manufacturing and Engineering sector) Most of these people are in their late 40s, 50s and some of them are in their 60s that are accustomed to a way of doing business without the use of social media. These people are accustom to traditional forms of marketing (especially in Manufacturing) and I do not see these people updating their twitter / facebook profiles almost every minute.... (They are too busy catering to their 3,4,5 year old son/daughter, getting home for dinner, working out at a gym and taking their kids to hockey practice / piano lessons on weekends). They have no time to update their status on Twitter or Facebook.

    So if a firm was to engage and embrace social media (to the extent that School has done) to attract this type of audience, it would be a waste of their time...... since these professionals are more used to older ways of marketing and sales....

    Anyways, you might agree / disagree - but that's my two sense.

    Overall, I still think you have a fantastic blog!!

    foodieyu said...

    Me too! Everyone has been saying it's entrée size lol

    foodieyu said...

    School is definitely very hip and up to speed about social media, and I love that! To be honest, I was pretty skeptical about Twitter at first too and thought Facebook was enough, but I'm glad I took the "leap" and got on Twitter, it is so much more interactive and fun!

    LOL Sarah is their social media person and she is obviously doing a fantastic job already, don't need me! =D

    foodieyu said...

    Hi Brian~ Thanks for following and reading my blog! :) I welcome all comments ^_^

    Hmm..well I don't think your concern is really a "concern", as in, people or customers that use Facebook and Twitter will love School for their online presence, and people that don't use neither, well, shouldn't make a difference to them, right? A restaurant being active in social media should not really "turn-off" customers who do not use it. And to your point, I know quite a few business and engineering friends that are pretty active in both Twitter and Facebook =)

    As for the restaurant owners that are accustomed to the traditional ways of marketing and do not have time for social media, I understand that too. Being on Twitter and Facebook can be a full time job and restaurants would probably need to hire a full-time person for it, so my apologies for not mentioning this point on my post as it is a big investment. But l guess all I'm saying is, restaurant owners should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of getting involved in social media. Because to me, if they stay with their "traditional marketing", they are missing a whole segment of clientele - customers that are young, who go out to eat a lot, who will tweet about what they had at a restaurant, share food photos on Twitter, Facebook and Foodspotting, etc, it's basically free promotion! And a restaurant can totally take advantage of all this by getting involved in it too. Of course, restaurant owners can say their target clients are the older generation, but my point of view is that older customers will steadily decrease (ie. pass away, retire, health reasons, etc) and if restaurants do not embrace a "new way" of marketing, or at least acknowledge the importance of it, they will fall behind if they want to attract new customers and compete with other restaurants. That's all =D

    So I agree with your points too, Brian, and it's great how your comment gave me another perspective and made me realize what I was missing in my post too~ Thanks so much! ^_*

    Terry & Beej said...

    I Just read your BLOG and one more time "I Love it" Stella you never disappoint : ) I will try out this place on your recommendation, thankfully every place you do recommend, ends up well worth the time and money.
    I love your enthusiasm for social media and restaurants today! I know we certainly try to embrace this at our 'food house' too : )
    Your number one fan from T17 ; )

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