Michael Cecere, chef-owner of Bowled Restaurant on 4th Street North, knows firsthand about the power of social media.
Facebook is not just the primary tool that Cecere uses to promote his business. It is the only tool.
Cecere is the keynote speaker at the Ultimate Social Media Marketing Extravaganza and Business Expo that Patch will cohost with LocalShops1.com on July 12, from 6-9 p.m., on the third floor of the St. Pete Pier.
Cecere will offer tips on what small businesses should and should not do on Facebook. He also will recall how Facebook fans helped rescue his business, which had closed.
This week, we stopped by Bowled at 3451 4th St. North to talk about Bowled Restaurant and the power of social media for small business owners.
Q. What was your inspiration for opening Bowled?
A. The name for Bowled at first was going to be Boulder, because I like the fresh-to-the-table, local food movement in Colorado. I was working at the Melting Pot at the time but had worked also at Ciciccio's. Bowls are very prominent everywhere. The name and conceprt went from Boulder to Bowled. I decided to do the majority of our dishes as "bowled" presentations. The Chicken Piccata, with sauteed chicken, tomatoes and capers, is a signature dish at Bowled, as is the Bowled Meatloaf with a Chipotle Barbecue Glaze.
Q. How much time do you spend on social media?
Recently I started getting back into it more, after I stepped away and noticed a definitive drop in business. If I have an idea for a special or promotion, I pop something on Facebook, and hear back from customers. We were close to getting 2,000 friends, and overnight we gained 80. The way I did the promotion was to ask our customers to send their friends to our Facebook page. Those friends had to say who sent them there. The customer who sent the most friends got a $250 gift certificate to Bowled. We had one lady who stayed up the entire night sending friends to us. She won!
Q. Is social media your main tool for marketing?
A. It is our only form of marketing, and we’re trying to get more creative. It's fine to "friend" us on Facebook. But we want people to "friend" us in person and come into the restaurant. So we think up fun ways to do that. For example, I may put out a call for the first person to scan a Bowled receipt on Facebook will get a free meal or a prize. We've done different promotions for an iPad or $10 in Bowled Bucks redeemable at the restaurant. The idea is to be interactive.
To register for the event
If you want to hear Cecere speak about his experiences using social media, as well as sample Bowled's food, enjoy a cash bar and meet other social media experts and bloggers, come to the Pier extravanganza.
Our social media experts will show business owners how their web sites rank on nationally recognized web analytics.
Questions? Call Patch Editor Linda Hersey, 727-480-4163, or email Linda.Hersey@Patch.com