Get up to speed on social media so you can make your
mark online. BY JODY SHEE
hink of Twitter as a giant water cooler with a few colleagues
gathered around from time to time throughout the day.
Facebook is more like a bulletin board, perhaps with new photos posted that stay up
for comment all day. That’s the way Joe Sorge views his two primary social media sites and
activity. He is founder/president of Hospitality Democracy, which owns five restaurants,
including AJ Bombers in Milwaukee.
He spends no money on advertising for his burger joint, and estimates that he has put out 55,000
tweets since he jumped on board with social media in 2008. “We are a company that believes in
permission marketing. We don’t actively pursue new customers,” he says.
One Monkeydish.com article points out that in the first year of AJ Bombers’ social-media use,
its sales broke even, doubled the second year and doubled again the third year. Sorge’s Twitter
success has been covered in The Wall Street Journal and on CNN and the Travel Channel.
While his achievements are enviable, Sorge is quick to encourage other “little guys” that they can
do it, too. You can play the same online game that Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts are known for.
“Social media is the great equalizer,” Sorge says, adding, “Small business is the team I play on.”
Don’t let the bevy of online options overwhelm you. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube,
Myspace, Yelp, Foursquare, LivingSocial and others have their benefits, but one thing
should drive your choice: What social media is your target audience using. Then, go there,
says Amanda Hite, founder/CEO of Talent Revolution Inc., a Brookville, Ohio-based social
brand consulting firm. She coaches companies, including restaurants, on personal branding
strategies. Because Facebook and Twitter have the largest audiences, she recommends
starting with those.
In her brand coaching, she also recommends starting a blog to share insights and information
of any length and YouTube to show videos. “YouTube is the second-largest search engine on
the Internet,” she says. Then tie it all together. “Share your blog and video content on Twitter