Restaurants, foodies connect — and score deals — through social media
By Jennifer Crosby, Special to The Journal, edmontonjournal.com
When Nate Box opened the Elm Café (#100, 10140 117th St., 780-756-3356), the owner-chef took out exactly one newspaper ad. The $198 spot in the Oliver paper may have directed some attention to the new eatery, but nothing compared to the social media website Twitter. Each morning Box posts the entire menu for the café’s 740-odd followers to see, share, and salivate over.
“Twitter is really an extension of our business. In the morning I open three programs: iTunes, Twitter, and our point-of-sale system,” says Box. His 225 square-foot small café pumps out a limited variety of meals every day, making Twitter’s brevity the perfect fit for the Café’s petite size and menu. In 140 characters or less, the restaurateur details each day’s unique line up of muffins (recent offerings include triple chocolate and blueberry-blackberry) and sandwiches — a sumptuous selection of hot, cold and breakfast. “I want to entice people with a menu,” says Box, “but I don’t want people coming in if they don’t like what we have.”
Box is on the leading edge of a growing number of business owners using social media to connect with customers. Thanks to a variety of websites, net-savvy diners can save money, peruse daily specials before driving across town, and discover exclusive incentives.
In the latest twist on clipping coupons, discount websites like Groupon.com, TeamBuy.ca, SwarmJam.com, LivingSocial.com, WagJag.com and GoodNews.com, which launched this week, claim members save 50- to 90-per-cent on activities and goods in their city of choice. Typically, daily discount offers arrive by e-mail, Twitter or Facebook and range from pole-dancing classes to clothing at the Gap, plus deals at a wide range of restaurants, bars and bakeries. With some programs, a set number of shoppers must buy the limited-time offer for it to be valid.