A few years ago I was at work at The Dining Car, where I'm a co-owner with my brother and sister, when I got a phone call from a woman who said she worked at Facebook and that I needed to “claim” the diner's Facebook Page.
I didn't believe her. I wasn’t on Facebook myself, so I couldn’t understand how The Dining Car would be on there. At the time, I was very anti-Facebook. I had heard so many negative things about it. I wasn’t at all interested in being involved with it. As a matter of fact, I called it “fakebook.”
But the woman from the company told me that people could “check in” to a business on Facebook, whether that business had a page or not, and that after a number of people did so, Facebook would generate a Page for it.
Every once in a while, I'd get an email from Facebook about the Page getting new likes. I never made any posts. I didn't even add a profile picture. Then one day, I got an email that The Dining Car had 500 likes! I thought, "Are you kidding me? Five hundred people had taken the time to say that they like our diner, and I was too lazy to even put a picture up?"
So I went in there and uploaded a profile picture. I was not a social media person, so I had no idea how this stuff worked, but it was really easy, and it looked great. Well, about two seconds after I posted it, someone liked my picture. I jumped off my chair! It was as if people were waiting around to hear from our diner. So I decided to add a cover photo, too. I uploaded it, repositioned it, and was impressed how good it looked. Seven seconds later, it had a like! Before the end of that day, I even got a message from someone in the U.K. who found The Dining Car on Facebook after seeing it on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” He told me he couldn’t wait to visit the diner when he came to the States later that year.
And that's when I realized that Facebook was really going to work for me. I started making some posts, and people kept liking and commenting. One day I decided to make a post about our strawberry crepe special. We make strawberry crepes once a year, and I thought they had always been under-appreciated since people know us mostly for our savory crepes. Well, after my Facebook post, we sold out in two hours what would usually last us two days. Now we put strawberry crepes on the menu once a month in the summer and we make seven times as much as we did in the past, and we still sell out.
One of these times, I overheard a customer telling seven other people at his table all about the strawberry crepes. He was going on and on, and I realized he was saying the same things I had put on Facebook. We had made him feel empowered and like an insider. All this from something I used to call “fakebook!”
I now realize what a great tool Facebook is for my business. I’d never be able to reach the amount of people I do using any other type of advertising. I even use my personal profile and so does my 90-year-old father.
I learned that saying “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it” is all too true, and I’m glad I did.