Saturday, August 23, 2014

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On Twitter, Social Listening and Southern Hospitality

by fouts

Southern ArtI just got back from a trip to Atlanta where I did some training on social media with a group of fortune 50 corporate travel partners for a major banking institution. The entertainment on the first night was a dinner at Art Smith’s Atlanta destination restaurant Southern Art and Bourbon Bar.

I knew a bit about Art, and being a social media geek I looked him up on Twitter as well as the restaurant. Both were on Twitter so I tweeted how excited I was to visit and asked Art what I should try. Here’s the thread on Twitter through a Storify post. Not only did I get a response from the chef and the restaurant, but the Mixologoist responded with pairing recommendations.

It was a social media speaker’s dream, as the next day I was to talk about how to use social media when you’re traveling. Awesome. Here’s a link to the Storify thread.

When I got to the restaurant the general manager approached me and asked me if I could come with him for a moment. Gosh, really? What’d I do?

He took me back into the kitchen, and told me that since Chef had recommended shrimp and grits and it wasn’t on the menu selected for the event, they had decided to do something special, just for me. I met with the Chef de cuisine and the Mixologist Arianne Fielder who poured me this amaaaaaazing 4 Roses Bourbon taken from their own lot. The chef created a ramekin of their shrimp and grits so I could try the combination and verify that yes, that mixologist is a mistress of her craft.

Oh my. The grits incorporate fresh cooked hominy, add some smokey sausage and perfectly cooked shrimp to make a dish that is just simply amazing. Tasting the bourbon with the grits really made me realize how the salty, smoky, slightly spicy dish was perfectly balance with the vanilla and oak of the Bourbon.

Wow. Just wow. And all of this because of a tweet? You betcha.
After my private tasting I returned to the dining room and had a really terrific meal. Of course I raved about that on Forkly and Foodspotting and thereby on Facebook and Twitter.

So, for a small amount of tweeting I got an incredible experience, and from that incredible experience the restaurant got not only this blog post and some tweets, but me using its a case study in two training sessions with the attendees of the conference.

Trust me. they were jealous, and it’s a lesson they will never forget in social media listening and customer service.

It’s not just restaurants either.
At the very same conference I heard a major hotel chain tell us that if you mention a staff member by name on Twitter for exceptional service, that staff member is rewarded with a gift card to show the hotel’s appreciation for going the extra mile.

Times have changed, people.
Customer service is recognized in ways you ever imagined. I will tell everyone I know that if they go to Atlanta to eat at Southern Art because the food is truly outstanding, so is the service, and they actually give a darn about their customers and social media. Win, win, win.

If you have a restaurant or any kind of service organization, you need to start listening to Twitter at the very least, right now. These kinds of opportunities are out there, and if you’re not listening you’ll miss them.

Honestly it wasn’t a huge leap, or hugely expensive for the restaurant to make this decision, but it was personal, and that’s why it matters. Take social media marketing to that level and you WILL succeed at creating a following that cares about you too.

Thanks Chef Art. I missed you, but I really appreciate the extra mile your staff went to to make me feel special. And the shrimp and grits? AWESOME!

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  • http://www.rosemcgrory.co.uk/ RM Social Media Management

    That’s fantastic, what a perfect example of how Twitter reaches the people other channels can’t (and sounds like a fun evening too!).
    I can only dream of the day that culture reaches the UK – on the whole, I’d say that more than 75% of tweets I send to commercial accounts (restaurants, hotels, other businesses) get radio silence still.
    ~ Kate
    PS, one day I want to try Grits in the southern states too!!

  • http://janetfouts.com Janet Fouts

    Well it doesn’t happen as often as one might think, but I love any organization that really listens. PS, you’ll love grits!

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