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Maine Restaurant Increases Business and Raises Funds for Charities through Social Media
If you have traveled on Riverside Drive in Augusta, been involved in a fundraiser in Kennebec County, or are a fan of delicious seafood or fried chicken, you will recognize today’s Monday Maine Maven, Laura Benedict, owner of The Red Barn restaurant in Augusta.
As a means to expand business frugally, Laura began using social media channels to economically promote her business and benefit events.
In just under two years, Laura and The Red Barn have raised over $400,000 for local community members and charitable causes.
The Red Barn’s successful Facebook page has evolved into a story of how social media can be utilized to promote a small business brand.
1. Laura, you are a Facebook success story! Tell us what difference Facebook has made for your business.
Engaging in social media has made fans of Facebook who frequent The Red Barn aware of who I am on a personal level. Sharing on Facebook brought me out from “behind the scenes” and has helped advertise our fundraisers and make people aware of who we are before they even come to Maine or Augusta to visit.
Facebook has increased traffic into The Red Barn and has also increased our “brand” recognition.
Our name is recognized by people who won’t necessarily come in to dine, but they still know our name and can tell friends/family in the area about us. Other employees and I are frequently recognized during far-away travels when we wear Red Barn shirts because people are often aware of the brand even if they have never had the opportunity to come in to the restaurant.
Using Facebook has also helped advertise our charity events that we hold in the fall. We can now create events that can be shared with friends and families invested in the causes we help raise funding for and we have seen an increase in attendance because of advertising this way.
2. You reveal a lot about yourself personally on Facebook. What inspired you to do that? Do you recommend that other businesses combine their personal and professional personalities on outlets like Facebook?
I wanted people to be able to relate to me and to my employees because we all have some shared experiences. Conveying this information personalizes our customers’ dining experience even more.
I know my audience; I shared a little at a time each time I posted personally or “from the heart,” and my Facebook fans became more engaged.
Ironically, I would not recommend it. I thought I knew my audience initially, but it did take a few years to get to the comfort level I am at now with my posts.
I never expected the Facebook page would grow to the extent it has.
3. Do you recommend to other restaurant owners that they use social media? What other platforms do you use?
Yes, and don’t believe the “hype” that it is time-consuming. It is a great way to engage customers and keep them thinking about my brand.
Posting consistently though is absolutely necessary and responding to customers’ feedback is an opportunity to exemplify our high quality customer service.
4. Laura, you operate a real heart-driven business, where your passion and care really instigate its success. Has your family played a role in this?
Because I come from a large family where growing up all we had was each other to play with, and then we all worked together in the business, each of my family members has left their own imprint in the business.
A major part of our customers are families so sharing about my family has a personal impact on a lot of our Facebook followers. They then relate to that when they come into the restaurant with their own families.