Last October we here at Boundary Bay Brewery found our way to social media. At the time, we weren’t entirely sure what it all meant or what we were supposed to do with it, but join we did. In the (almost a) year since, we’ve continued to gain fans and get notice from the food industry, the craft beer industry and social media mavens. In the most recent issue (August 2009) of Front Burner, the official publication for the Washington Restaurant Association, Heather Donahoe wrote an article about social media titled “Dive Into the Conversation: Come Up With Bigger Profits.” Here are some excerpts from the article about our social media here at Boundary Bay Brewery:
Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro in Bellingham understands the benefits of social media better than perhaps any other restaurant in Washington. The popular eatery got serious about its social media efforts late last year and now has nearly 5,000 Facebook fans and almost 1,000 Twitter followers. Before jumping headlong into social media, Boundary Bay had a well organized blog that had drawn a fair amount of interest. Joining networking sites was the next natural step.
When the restaurant’s general manager Janet Lightner learned about Twitter last October, she was intrigued enough to ask her public relations specialist, Amy Jones, to set up an account. The response was overwhelming.
“It absolutely exploded,” Jones said. “We’ve gotten to where when we put our info on one site, we already have so many people excited about what we’re doing that it has spread to Twitter before we can even Tweet it ourselves.”
Boundary Bay Brewery uses Twitter and Facebook to share their menu specials, announce the release of seasonal brews and put out the invitation for special events. Social media friends and fans of the restaurant respond by passing along the information and continuing the conversation.
“Customers love feeling like they have a personal connection to us, and this has been such a simple way to provide that,” Jones said. “Answering people’s questions and becoming a personality instead of just an information source is what it’s all about. It’s become a self-sustaining thing.”
Boundary Bay is in the advantageous position of being a craft beer brewer. This niche makes their business of special interest to an already enthusiastic demographic. Building on that unique position, Boundary Bay has gained its devoted social media following.
“I’ve actually heard customers in the restaurant say things like ‘Oh, I’m one of your Twitter followers, and I’m here because I found out your Imperial IPA is on tap,'” Jones said. “It’s exciting to see that connection.”
Jones offers a bit of advice for newbies to the social media game: “It’s really important right from the beginning to create a personality that allows you to interact with your fans in a way that feels real and personal,” she said. “If you’re able to make that happen in the beginning, you’ll see sustained success in the long run.”