Earl Handy may be using social media to promote his business, Handy's Lunch , but he certainly isn't limiting his customer interactions to just occurring online.
On his Twitter account, @handyslunch, Handy talks about everything from the restaurant's latest lunch specials to his favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees.
"I'm not restricting it to business," he said. "It allows people to see I'm not just a diner. I am a person--I have a personality."
And it's obvious people are drawn to his personality; Handy has more than 1,100 followers on Twitter and more than 650 fans on Facebook. That's a pretty solid following given that a little over a year ago, the diner had no social media presence.
"A friend told me, 'You have to expand the conversation outside of the counter and outside of these walls.' I felt I didn't know how to do it, and didn't understand it, 'but I have done everything he said', and expanded the conversation."
Social media is the ultimate way for a business to keep its personality and stand out from the crowd, and Handy is proof. By Tweeting and posting on Facebook, businesses are engaging with their customers and strengthening their ever-important bond.
Embracing New Tech
Seventy-year-old Dick Padelford certainly hadn't grown up on social media; the owner of Freetown Pet Food Outlet (http://freetownpetfoodoutlet.com/contact.html) was more of a hands-on customer relations manager. But when social media entered the scene, he decided instead of fighting against it to hire a tech-savvy employee to handle his online promotions.
"I'm an old guy, so that's not what I focus on," he said. "It's not what I grew up on in this business, but it's absolutely working."
While Padelford admits he is not interested in Facebook and Twitter for himself, he loves the attention it has brought to his business.
"It's not something I personally wanted to sit there and do," he said. "But today, if you're not up with that you're not going to succeed."
Planting the Social Seed
Mike Podlesny, 39-year-old owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, is also an avid social media user. He uses his Facebook page and Twitter account to not only get the news out about his 'Seeds of the Month Club,' but also engages with other vegetable gardeners.
Podlesny said his fans will offer tips and advice to each other and share photos of the veggies they have grown with Mike's seeds.
“They really interact and get into it on the page. People who never grew anything help others," he said. "Its' neat, you are seeing people’s progress in real time with their gardens.”
Entrepreneurs should take caution though when using social media, Handy warns.
"I've become addicted to Tweeting—I Tweet about 15 times a day."