What we don’t need from a restaurant’s Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook feed:
- Links to your appearance on the Today show, making prosciutto melon balls (“if you can’t find prosciutto at your local 7-11, Vienna sausages work fine.”)
- Photos of that marlin you caught off the coast of Madagascar.
- “We’re one follower away from the 550 on Twitter help us get there!”
- RT-ing every single single gosh darn positive guest experience.
- The same fuzzy Instagram photo (without a price), published on your Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook feed simultaneously.
- How excited you are about your sixth cookbook.
- Crowdsourcing things only a kindergarten teacher would ask: “And what did YOU have for breakfast today?”
- This word, or any of its synonyms: YOGA.
What we need from a restaurant’s social media feed:
- Links to the latest menus, with prices.
- Food pictures, particularly specials, with prices.
- 24-hour advance notice if you’re closed for a private event. All the more important if you’re a walk-ins-only joint that doesn’t answer phones.
- Last minute availability, with prices if you’re tasting-menu-only.
- Unexpected wines you’re opening up by the glass, with prices.
- What philanthropic event you’re cooking at, with ticket prices.
- When you’re cooking at an out-of-town-pop-up, with prices.
- When you’re sold out of a popular special for the evening.
These may seem like bromides to some, but trust me, I wish I had a dollar for every time I showed up a restaurant that was closed for a private event that wasn’t announced on Twitter. And as for photos — we’ve said this before and we’ll say it again — a la carte restaurants that don’t publish prices with their Instagrammed or Twit-pic food specials are like old-school waiters who don’t include prices in their oral spiel. Are you really gonna make us ask to find out if we can afford it?
Now I’m sure there’s a chef out there saying, “Well, you know, the people who follow our account, they’re familiar with our prices, and we don’t want to clog up our feed with numbers.” Great, so why don’t you just remove all the prices from your dinner menus and wine lists, since all of your guests are up to speed?
As for positive guest experiences, please don’t clog up our twitter-verse with an RT from every single diner who writes ”can’t stop thinking about our meal at SQUID last night, it was my boyfriend’s birthday and he loved the squid four ways in cuttlefish ink.” So be judicious with the RTs. Or try a simple reply instead. Social media is about building a sense of community by engaging people. RT-ing every guest compliment isn’t engaging people, it’s just spamming our feeds with a locust plague of mini press releases.
So let’s make a deal. If you can work on the important stuff, like prices, we at The Bad Deal will let you get away with the tweeting photos of your vacations in Bora Bora, and yes, even your Saturday yoga routine, because we know being cool on social media is about being human and not a press machine. We get it.
For what it’s worth, our favorite restaurant social media accounts are Thirty Acres (which posts its menu every day), Dirt Candy (which uses its feed to show table availability), and Next/Alinea, the two tasting menu restaurants by Chicago’s Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas. They use their twitters to give out last minute tables, and they always tweet the price of those tables. And the Next Facebook community is probably the most transparent dialogue you’ll ever see between a restaurant and its clientele. Very cool indeed.
Who needs to be better? Virtually everyone else. Especially the three-Michelin-starred venues. Anything to add? Let us know in the comments, or — heave forbid — in the “reblogs.”