Pie Hole: Most Little Rock Restaurants Miss Social Media Boat


Commentary

Do you follow The Pantry on Twitter and Facebook? I do. While scrolling through my FB feed a few weeks back, I noticed an announcement/picture for a private event pig roast at the restaurant. A big, beautiful roasted pig’s head was right there, front and center, on my computer monitor.

This prompted me to contact The Pantry’s owner. Within days we had coordinated a private party pig roast to be held in early January for 15-20 of my friends.

Why do I mention all of this?

Because just one picture on FB caused a chain reaction of events that will inevitably lead to a few hundred dollars going to The Pantry’s way. One post, one customer…hundreds of bucks. Think about that for a second.

It was instant gratification for me (the customer) and future bucks for them (the restaurant).

Apparently, The Pantry is in the minority of Little Rock eateries which understand the potentially positive impact on a business’ bottom line with the proper utilization of social media. It is hard to find a local restaurant that has a modern website and active Twitter and Facebook accounts.

This dumbfounds me.

Essentially, social media is not only free advertising (which helps build name recognition), but is also a tool to immediately reach and respond to your audience. What restaurant wouldn’t want that? Customers now expect the entire interactive package from dining establishments, yet most Little Rock restauranteurs continue to live in the Dark Ages of outdated websites and lackluster social media interaction. What better way to entice customers than with a daily tweet or status update about the chef’s special or the latest cocktail creation? For the emerging food truck business, how convenient would it be for patrons to realize that you happen to be stationed just down the street from their office desk today?

Is it a time issue? Maybe. Maintaining proper Twitter and Facebook accounts take time…time that could be going to other areas of the business.

Is it a cost issue? Maybe. In big cities like Houston and Boston (where I’ve lived), you’ll often find marketing firms running the social media show for restaurants. In Little Rock, this probably isn’t the case.

The bottom line: there are no excuses. Little Rock restaurants need to find the time and means to make social media a top priority. It’s just good business.

Little Rock is ready to take that next step in becoming a legitimate food town, but progress will be severely limited if our local restaurants continue to view social media as a burden rather than a platform to reach the public. That would be a shame. We’ve got some amazing folks doing some outstanding things with food. I just wish more of us knew about it.

Until then, the people who are unaware of these mom and pop places will continue to fill those Olive Garden parking lots.

  1. #1 by Pat Ulrich on December 13, 2012 - 9:26 am

    If you run across any local restaurants asking about a website or social media presence, you can send them my way! I’d be happy to help get them noticed.

  2. #2 by Terri on December 13, 2012 - 5:23 pm

    I agree with you on every point except one: I was not invited to be one of the 15 – 20 friends. {sigh} And if you invite me now, I’ll know you’re only doing it out of guilt ;)

    • #3 by The Mighty Rib on December 13, 2012 - 8:02 pm

      Terri, everyone that’s attending the pig roast responded to my Tweet invitation from several weeks ago. This tells me you don’t pay attention to my tweets and thus the guilt trip is back on you. :)

      In all seriousness…do you wanna go? It’s on Jan. 3 at 7p. Shoot me an email at wcshalin {at} hotmail.com.

      • #4 by Terri on December 17, 2012 - 3:22 pm

        Oh my word. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google+. I just cannot keep up.

        Thanks for the invite, but I will be on the road on the 3rd coming back from my Florida vacation. Have fun, enjoy the meal and company, then write about it. I’ll enjoy vicariously :)

  3. #5 by Lin @ BeantownEats on December 14, 2012 - 10:57 am

    Great opinion piece Kevin! It still blows my mind when even restaurants here in Boston don’t have a website!! I want to see a menu! I want to see their hours on the landing page. All of these things will only increase business.

  4. #6 by The Mighty Rib on December 15, 2012 - 8:32 am

    Lin, thanks so much for your kind words.

    You know what I’ve noticed of late??? Restaurants just using FB as their main website. I guess it’s better than nothing.

  5. #7 by Stephanie on December 17, 2012 - 10:04 am

    You hit the nail on the head. I handle the social media for a deli/grocery in North Little Rock. As is the way with small places, I also help handle purchasing, stocking, busing, cashiering, and, on occasion, cleaning the bathrooms. Our first and minimum daily requirement is a bright and beautiful photo of the lunch special blasted on web, FB, and twitter. If we can get a pic of the chef with a fresh fish almost as big as he is or a shot of the couple hundred gift baskets we made that day, that’s up there too. We try to make it about community and conversation builds community.

  6. #8 by The Mighty Rib on December 17, 2012 - 10:55 am

    Love this line: ” We try to make it about community and conversation builds community.” So well said Stephanie.

    Just last night I had some excellent Chinese food. The restaurant had no Twitter or FB. And the website needed some updates.

  7. #9 by Stephanie on December 17, 2012 - 12:15 pm

    I’d love to hear where you had it, and I know you would have posted links if you’d had them!

  8. #10 by The Mighty Rib on December 17, 2012 - 1:26 pm

    Chi’s on Markham and Shackleford.

  9. #11 by Stephanie on December 17, 2012 - 1:29 pm

    Good place, and, yes, one I always forget because it doesn’t pop up on my newsfeed.

  10. #12 by Pat Ulrich on December 17, 2012 - 1:46 pm

    Chi’s also had a little to-go place on Chenal (close to the post office) but they are expanding into the old coffee house place so closed for now. I expect it will become a full size restaurant with the way the area is growing.

  11. #13 by The Mighty Rib on December 17, 2012 - 2:34 pm

    @Pat and I bet it will do quite well in Chenal. Very nice people running things at Chi’s.

    @Stephanie What is your fav Chinese restaurant in town? I’ve only been to a few: Fu Lin’s (terrible), Chinese Kitchen (good take-out) and Fantastic China (solid). Mr. Chen’s is def on my to-do list.

    • #14 by Stephanie on December 17, 2012 - 10:51 pm

      Sadly, no Chinese in the city stands out for me, that’s why I was so interested. It’s also why I got a wok for Christmas a few years back.

  12. #15 by Thanh Rasico on December 17, 2012 - 4:19 pm

    I love the boneless peking duck at Chi’s. Served with steamed buns, scallions, hoisin, & sriracha. Delish!!

    Also had the cup portion of coconut seafood soup at A.W Lins at the Promenade for $5 and it was full of flavor as well as a substantial amount of protein! I was very impressed!

    • #16 by The Mighty Rib on December 17, 2012 - 4:35 pm

      I’ve had Chi’s duck for take-out…excellent dish. My young daughters love it as well. And thank you for the AW Lins rec…I was eyeballing that place the other night on my way to Local Lime. Other than the soup, did any other dishes impress you?

      Also, btw…was just talking about your blog with a buddy (told him he needs to follow it). :)

  13. #17 by Thanh Rasico on December 18, 2012 - 7:39 am

    Hey thanks for the recommendation to follow! You get so many comments on your blog! It’s great that you respond to every comment. The menu was full of the same old same old that you can get from everywhere else….but I loved the kobe beef sashimi and Manhattan Tuna. Portion sizes were great, too. Again, the soup was amazing. Different from anything that I’ve had in a while.

    • #18 by The Mighty Rib on December 18, 2012 - 8:06 am

      Honestly Thanh…I really don’t get too many comments. Every now and then I’ll do a post (like this one) that will generate a response.

      I respond to just about every comment because I truly love the interaction,suggestions, and sharing of ideas that come from food blogging. And I’m so appreciative when someone takes the time to respond to a post.

  14. #19 by Jared on January 1, 2013 - 2:31 pm

    A friend of mine turned me on to your blog. You are a gifted writer, and I really enjoy your updates.

    I couldn’t agree more with your post. When I have friends come into town, they are shocked by the small, local selections to be had. Little Rock definitely has some gems, and they are unfortunately they are behind the times when it comes to social media, or even the internet in general.

    I don’t know if you’ve tried it yet, but there is a Thai/Chinese place in Sherwood called “Chang’s”. Very sweet lady that runs the kitchen. Avoid the buffet, order from the menu, and you can request the amount of heat you want on a scale of 1-10. Excellent little restaurant.

    • #20 by The Mighty Rib on January 2, 2013 - 11:39 am

      Thank you for the kind words about my blog, Jared. Truly motivates me to keep on churning out posts.

      And thanks for the rec. I’ll will def check out Chang’s and report back. Any fav dish I should get?

  15. #21 by Melissa on January 8, 2013 - 10:31 pm

    I love Chi’s. Had lunch there today

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