How Facebook Is Helping a Successful Rural Tourism Business

by Joanne Steele on May 31, 2010

FacebookLinkedInPinterestShare

“I’m coming down to Dunsmuir for a Mexi-Benny at the Cornerstone. Stop what you’re doing and join me” was the message I received this morning from a friend who lives in the town just north of Dunsmuir.

Janet and Nicky at the Cornerstone Cafe

A winning Cornerstone Cafe team - Janet the chef, with daughter, Nicky, the Facebook expert

I called back with the question, “How do you know they’ll have Mexi-Bennies? That’s a rare special.”

“Facebook,” she replied. I checked at the Cornerstone Café Facebook Page, and sure enough, there was a picture of their fabulous Mexi-Bennies, and an invitation to come on down and enjoy.

This got me to thinking. Cornerstone is one of my favorite restaurants. They’re one of the local places that inspired a former post. Check out the story and a picture of the restaurant.

The thing is I know the owner, Janet Stair, and she is, in her daughter’s words, a technopeasant. She doesn’t have a website, hates her cell phone, and has a Yelp sticker in her window because someone else put it there.

Janet is a wonderful chef and a great business person, but she, like many rural tourism dependent businesses, doesn’t think she has the time to learn and use all the new web 2.0 marketing techniques.

And yet, here is a fabulous Facebook presence that is drawing in all kinds of fans and comments. How is this happening???

It was a dirty job, but I had to go down there this morning, have my Mexi-Benny and for the sake of other rural tourism businesses, check out how Janet and Eddie were managing such an effective, wonderful Facebook presence.

What I learned is that their daughter, Nicky, has taken on the job of managing both their Facebook and Yelp presence. Yea Nicky!! This young woman is a valuable asset to her parents’ business.

Here’s what you can learn from Nicky.

1. If you don’t have a personal profile on Facebook, get one. That’s the place to start. I explained why in the former post,  “Follow the Facebook Rules To Set Up Your Business Page, OR ELSE!”

2. Then set up your business page. Nicky said that when she set up the Cornerstone Page for her parents, the first fans were her own friends who were more interested in supporting her than supporting her parents’ business. But Nicky’s first Cornerstone posts that appeared on her friends’ walls attracted more fans, and interest grew to over 225 fans in 6 months.

3. Expect it to take more time in the beginning while you’re getting used to the new skill. Nicky said that she was a little intimidated at first with the idea of regularly having to post something. Now, 7 months later, she spends around a half hour a day posting, and it’s become almost second nature.

4. Be spontaneous, and also plan ahead. Nicky goes into the restaurant fairly often to visit her parents, and when she’s there she takes pictures of specials and new art on the restaurant walls using her Blackberry. When a post doesn’t immediately come to mind, she has a backlog of possible subjects and pictures to share.

Last winter, when the power all over far northern California was out for days, Nicky posted the electricity status in Dunsmuir. She also responded to this post:

From Steven: CORNERSTONE IM LOOKING TO MAKE SURE MY AUNT IS OK SHE IS FAY CASTILLO I HAVENT HEARD FROM HER IN DAYS.SHE LIVES IN MT. SHASTA IF YOU CAN HELP I WOULD BE GREATFUL. SHE NEEDS TO CONTACT HER NEICE IVONNE. THANK YOU.

Nicky’s answer: Hi Steven, Fay & Jim are well, sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner! I will contact them now for you.

January 23 at 9:28am · Report

Steven’s response: THANK YOU SO MUCH 4 YOUR HELP.

I bet Steven and his family will be customers for life, as will everyone who read and followed this little bit of help in a crisis.

5. And finally: If you can’t do it yourself, get someone to do it for you. With over 400,000,000 members, you can be sure that your customers are on Facebook, and ignoring them is ignoring opportunity.

If you’re unsure about how to proceed, just follow Nicky on the Cornerstone Café Fan Page and do exactly what she does. That’s how she got started, and now she can pay it forward by being an example for you. And, by the way, if you’re traveling on Interstate 5 in Northern California, check out the specials on Facebook, and plan a meal stop at the Cornerstone Café in Dunsmuir.

Previous post:

Next post: