Tuesday, 13 July 2010 17:43

4 tips from St Pete Brasserie

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Following up on my last post, I was lucky enough to get a chance to exchange a few emails with Andrew Wilkins, the proprietor of St Pete Brasserie, the restaurant 'saved by social media'.

An affable restauranteur, he was very forthcoming via email, more than willing to share a few of the secrets that brought his business back from the brink.

If you're a small business owner, this advice goes to the core of social media engagement.

#1 Be hands on

As a restauranteur and a fanpage admin, Andrew Wilkins is a hands-on kind of guy. He runs his fanpage as he does his restaurant, as he describes it:

I am a very hands-on owner and try to touch every table.

This is reflected on his fanpage, where he presents as the very image of the outgoing host.

His personality shines through in his social media activity.

#2 Be active on local community pages

What really drove the sensational growth of both fanpage and real-world customers was a campaign of engagement through local community fanpages. Some of these pages have upwards of 10,000 members. When the call was put out that a local business was on the verge of collapse, the community rallied around the brasserie.

It's not a one-way street however, Andrew is very active in promoting community events on his own fanpage.

#3 Create cheerleaders

When Andrew is doing his rounds of the tables, he makes sure to mention the fanpage to customers. Customers who love the real-world experience get online and become active members of his fanpage, where the interaction is carried on with the same ambience. His staff are also big promoters:

All my staff are like family to me, so they also tell the face book story.

#4 Respond quickly

Andrew credits the Facebook app for iPhone as one of his key tools:

This has enabled me to keep up with the fans within minutes of them posting comments, even during opening hours.

The key point he is that customers feel listened to and the conversations flow naturally and without interruption. It also gives evidence of a vibrant and active community.

Bonus mini-tip for bricks & mortar business

Andrew has specially printed Facebook stickers for the restaurant windows that promote his fanpage. While quite a few businesses put out a hand-drawn placard, this doesn't have the impact or brand recognition of the Facebook logo.


As I surmised in the original article, Andrew's prime tactics are simply being genuine and engaging the local community.

It's important to keep in mind that this is not a nebulous online business, but a real bricks-and-mortar restaurant that achieved a remarkable business coup by simply being themselves.

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