Graphic courtesy of

If you build it, they will come…if only operating a restaurant were that easy!

As a restaurant, how do you market yourself so you rise above the noise and grab those elusive diner dollars?  Smart restaurants use Twitter as a marketing tool to increase visibility, build relationships and most importantly, drive sales.

But for you – customers, fans, followers, foodies – why do you follow restaurants on Twiter?  I believe three major benefits explain “what’s in it for me?” for Twitter followers – 1) be the first to learn about new menu items and special events, 2) get to know the chef/staff and be treated like family, and 3) get great deals that others don’t know about.  Funny thing – those three reasons match perfectly with why smart restaurants use Twitter!

If you live in the greater Seattle area, you know we are very lucky to have a social media savvy restaurant community that keeps us updated on what’s new on the culinary scene.  Many restaurants are still trying to figure out how to utilize the power of Twitter, so I thought I’d share with you the five Seattle restaurants that I think are doing a twitter-ific  job of engaging with the community.

As a Social Media Coach and Trainer for restaurants, you may wonder what criteria I used to create my Fab 5 list, so here you go:

  1. The restaurant is actually “on” Twitter, not just pushing posts from Facebook
  2. Their tweets are interesting, giving us behind the scenes info – with bonus points for humor!
  3. They are sharing timely info that we can’t get elsewhere  and offer occasional special deals just for Twitter followers
  4. The restaurant is posting regularly (4-6x/day) but not overwhelming us with too many tweets (like 18 in 2 hrs!)
  5. They are responsive, replying to inquiries, comments and mentions
  6. They are interested in other people and businesses, often retweeting messages or commenting on current/local events, rather than just promoting themselves

Given those ground rules, which Seattle restaurants are tweeting themselves proud?  here’s my list, in alphabetical order, so as to avoid any food fights:

  • ART Restaurant (@ARTrestaurant) 2549 followers. Account managed internally by Meg Paynor (@megpaynor) and Crystal Southcote (@cryssouth). Nice mix of tweets about restaurant and community, delicious photos, and great acknowledgement of diners after visits, follow-up on every comment and excellent customer service on issues or inquiries.
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  • Assaggio Ristorante (@AssaggioRistora)  395 followers. Account managed by Michel McCammon, Events Coordinator.  Great community commentary about Top Chef, Pike Place market, Seahawks, Movies, Mariners, etc.  Good food photos for menu items, specials, cocktails. Promoting own Kickstarter cookbook project without overdoing it and annoying followers – nicely done!
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  • RN74 (@RN74seattle) 2317 followers. Managed by GM Eric Perlin.  Just plain fun to follow!  He could wow us constantly with their amazing food and drink but keeps those tweets to about one a day, and fills in rest of time with fun observations around town.  Great sense of humor and interesting views. Love that he mentions (and praises!) other restaurants, sharing the love.  Big Mariners and Seahawks fan and supports the downtown Seattle area well. People can check this link right here now fro marine equipments.
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  • Tom Douglas Restaurants (@TomDouglasCo) 7314 followers. Managed by Herschell Taghap (@specialdark)  the man who never met a hashtag or a CAPITAL letter he didn’t like 🙂  His job must be a bit like being Sybil, wrangling/representing the myriad of restaurants in the TDR chain (13?).  But he does it well, with style and wit, although prepare yourself for 10-15 (or more!) tweets a day – can you handle it? Very responsive and not much gets by him – you can always count on a retweet, a thank you or a witty reply.
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  • The Walrus and The Carpenter (@TheWalrusBar) 1810 followers. Managed by Emily Resling (@publicMLE)  internally. Big bonus points for the creative use of tweets to update guests on wait lists at the restaurant.  More bonus points for also handling tweets for @thewhalewins.  Humorous, fun, light-hearted.  One wish, more food photos, please!
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OTHER NOTABLES: Grand Central Bakery (@GrandCentralSEA), Il Corvo (@ilcorvopasta), Trace (@traceseattle), The Saint (@TheSaintSocial), Where Ya At Matt (@WhereYaAtMatt), Taco Time (@TacoTimeNW), Dicks Drive Ins (@DicksDriveIns)

There are many more deserving restaurants on the Seattle scene, so please let me know about your favorites in the comments below.  One thing I do notice – all the top tweeters actually work in-house at their restaurant…stayed tuned for an upcoming post about the pros & cons for a restaurant in using a PR firm or social media consultant!