They are starting to “Get” the power

The estimated number of companies currently on Twitter is in the thousands.  The businesses are immensely diverse but their basic goals remain the same – to leverage the “Power” of social media for the betterment of their bottom line.  While not every company on Twitter has found the magic formula that leaves that warm, fuzzy, “I’ve got to do business with this company” feeling with its followers, there are a few who either have gotten or are starting to “Get” the power the medium can hold.  One such company that popped up less than two weeks ago in the Twittersphere is Maggiano’s.  A family-friendly chain restaurant whose apparent mission is to provide it’s customers with bountiful, consistently good Italian food in a Little Italy style atmosphere.

The evidence that Maggiano’s is learning to harness the power of Twitter is clearly illustrated in the story of my lunch last Saturday.  Beth Harte, Li Evans, Mayra Ruiz and I had plans to meet at the Maggiano’s in King of Prussia, PA.  Mayra and her husband had driven up from West Virginia for the the day and we ladies were gathering to share, not only some food, but some sparkling discussion on the state of social media.  Mayra was also interviewing Beth and Li about their upcoming Online Media Boot Camp.  I was driving from my home in South Philly (Thanks Philly Car Share!) out to the ‘burbs when almost to King of Prussia, I realize I could not remember which side of the mall Maggiano’s is located on.  So, Twitterholic that I am, I send out this tweet: @GloriaBell: Quick someone – Maggiano‘s in King of Prussia, which side of the mall is it on?

Before I received a response, I sighted the restaurant, parked and joined the ladies inside.  We were seated and I, again Twitterholic that I am, stole a quick look at at my replies (so I could thank anyone who had sent me directions) prior to starting our conversation.  Imagine my pleasant surprise to see this tweet:
@Maggianos: @gloriabell Enjoy your lunch at Maggiano‘s King of Prussia!
It had been posted less than ten minutes after my request for directions.  The other ladies were just as pleasantly surprised so I sent out a “joint” reply: @Maggianos I am having a lovely lunch with some brilliant ladies @marketingmisfit @bethharte & @storyspinner
Within minutes we received @BethHarte @storyspinner @gloriabell @marketingmisfit Glad you’re enjoying your lunch! Cheers!
Enthusiastic social media evangelists all, we waited a bit and checked our new followers.  Sure enough, @Maggianos was now following all four of us.  Curious about the man/woman behind the mask (ok, the avatar, but mask flows so much better), I asked @Maggianos to direct message me with his/her name.
After exchanging a few direct messages, I learned that the man behind our “conversation” was Michael from Maggiano’s Marketing Department.  They had only been on Twitter for approximately eight days and, to use his own words  “We think it will be a great way to build a relationship with our Guests. Lots of potential uses, from informing them about Maggiano’s news and special promotions, to checking in to ensure we’re delivering a great experience.”

Now there are many questions still to be asked of Michael/@Maggianos such as – Did they receive a recommendation from a PR or Marketing person or agency to establish a Twitter presence or was it an internal decision? How did he learn about managing/leveraging Maggiano’s Twitter account?  Was it from personal experience, for example did he have his own Twitter identity prior to establishing the Maggiano’s account?  However, even with these unanswered questions, a quick review of @Maggianos Twitter stream shows a sincere willingness on their part to utilize the “Power” of the Twitterverse to inform their customers, obtain feedback, as well as enhance the customer’s experience with the Maggiano’s brand.   Maggiano’s is demonstrating the understanding that, in today’s ultra-competitive climate, businesses have to utilize all the tools available to generate that magic combination of customer service and brand recognition that ultimately generates our revenue.  Maggiano’s is far from being the only company that has recognized the inherent power of Twitter to help generate customer loyalty and business.   What is impressive is their quick grasp of the “proper” use of the medium.  Their use of the secret sauce of broadcast messages, monitoring traffic for their name and, most importantly, interaction/conversations with current and potential customers.  Well done, Maggiano’s!  Thanks for not only a fantastic lunch, but a great lesson as well.


4 Comments

  1. Gloria, I was totally surprised by there tweets on Saturday! It’s great that they are trying. I’ll be interested to see if they comment on your blog and answer the rest of your questions. 🙂 And yep, lunch was awesome! Thanks Maggianos!

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  2. Gloria, this was so well written and really just recapped much of our geeky, Twitter-y excitement 🙂 that day at lunch. It was, IMO, extremely refreshing to know Maggiano’s was twittering, monitoring their brand and being responsive. As they get the hang of it, I would hope to see they can elevate it one or two more notches … say, for example, after wishing us well … perhaps to have followed up within another 10-15 minutes or so ??? to ask hey ladies, what’cha ordering? can i recommend x y or z on the menu ??? don’t you think that would have been ultra cool?? the point is that this can happen and i think that is “stage II” or “stage III” … i think this kind of engaging and “conversational marketing” is where’s it’s at and it’s exciting to see these guys start off on the right foot! this was a fab post but then again, i expect nothing less from such a fab southern belle!!! ps – i noticed you clearly didn’t mention that fabu waiter??? LOL …

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  3. Hi Gloria! Great post about our interaction. It was an exciting moment for us at Maggiano’s to see how we can engage with our guests in real time. Like you mentioned, we’re new to the medium, but we’re already so excited by the potential.

    To answer a couple of your questions, the decision to develop a Twitter presence was an internal decision. I’ve been an occasional Twitter user myself, but it is Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) who made me think about the potential power of this medium. If you’re familiar with Gary V (tv.winelibrary.com), you know what a terrific job he has done in connecting with his podcast viewers and developing his brand through a variety of social mediums. He personally responds to every e-mail, and it is the personal connection and authenticity that makes his use of these mediums so powerful.

    As we began to consider Twitter, we ran some searches on our brand name. It was amazing to see the positive sentiment people had towards Maggiano’s, and fascinating to have a snapshot of how our restaurants fit into peoples day-to-day life. We got the feeling that our guests would be open to engaging with us through this medium, and so we gave it a shot. We’ve been incredibly encouraged by the positive response so far, and can’t wait to see where it takes us.

    Thanks for the kind words, and for dining at Maggiano’s! See you in the Twittersphere…

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