Social Media: Serving Up A Dish Of Authenticity
If you live in Oakland County and you haven’t been to a Matt Prentice restaurant, then you don’t know good food. Matt has been a staple around here for 20-plus years. This has been a big year for Matt; he opened two new restaurants on Northwestern Highway: Morels, a fine dining restaurant, and Detroit Prime, a classic Detroit steakhouse, both under his new company name, Matt Prentice A Culinary Experience.
Matt also started a Facebook fan page, blog, Pinterest board and Twitter account. Needless to say, Matt Prentice is a busy man.
This may sound crazy, but I am writing this article without having eaten at Morels or Detroit Prime, but based on the rave reviews of others, I can only assume they are fantastic.
My conversation with Matt on Sunday began awkwardly. I asked him if he would mind my recording our conversation on my iPhone so I could reference it later.
His response? “You can record conversations on your iPhone?”
After a mutual laugh, we started talking about his new company and the social media platforms he uses to promote the brand. He told me that he was just “someone who makes excellent food and gives unmatched service” and joked about his “inability to understand how social media works.”
Matt hires a company to run his social media experience. He sounded apologetic while telling me, as if he was apologizing for not knowing how to do it himself. I reassured him that it’s OK to hire experts; consultants are hired everyday so that business owners can stick to doing what they are good at.
As we talked about the different catered events that he offers, he told me that he was actually catering a wedding that very night for a young lady whose bat mitzvah he catered years before. He caters all their family events, and, in fact, the matriarch of the family was one of his first diners at his first deli. She had ordered a large platter and said, “Make it a good one, and I will tell all my friends, but if it’s not good — everyone will know.”
Matt laughed and said, “I guess she liked the platter, because I’ve been working with her family ever since.”
I asked Matt if he planned on blogging that story with some pictures from different events; it could be a nice marketing piece for him. He sounded hesitant and said, “I bring the food and create the ambiance, but it’s their wedding, their event and their pictures. It’s not my place to use their event for my marketing. I think the real story happens when their friends and families come to their events and see my staff and me every time. They all know we do a great job for the family.”
Matt is not wrong; attitude is the essence of social networking. When one person tells their friends what they like, and why they like it, the audience wants to find out more. Matt’s customers may not be checking in on Foursquare or Facebook every time they come to eat. They may not be the type of people to tweet a picture of their dinner. But Matt can hire someone to blog and build his brand, use it to tell the history integral to the Detroit Prime ambiance, he can even use it to attract some young folks to his restaurants who tweet and check in.
But the fact is that Matt knows social media better than he thinks. He is authentic, he is present where he believes to be relevant, and he wants to make long-term connections with his customers. That is what social media is all about. The technology is just a tool.