The blogging and social media community in Howard County continues to become more robust, integrated and connected. And as a local restaurant owner or manager, a food professional or “just” a foodie, there are many ways for you to be more involved, informed, connected and engaged. Here are some of them.
Get your blog listed on HoCoBlogs
Get to know the local bloggers
Understand how to prepare your content (news, events, announcements, video and more) so that bloggers can blog more easily and readily about your business. Read this and this to cover your bases. Attend our local parties if you have a chance. And read some of the food blogs found on HoCoBlogs.com.
And really get to know the food bloggers
Follow HowChow’s blog, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter. Check the many food-related blogs on HowChow’s site (found in the lower the right column) and those found on HoCoBlogs. AnnieRie also writes a lot about the local food scene with a bent toward locally sourced foods. Her local food resources page is a treasure.
Consider co-hosting a blog party
We’ve got a long tradition of hosting parties at local restaurants for bloggers and their readers. In recent years, we’ve had 50-100 people at our parties and we bring a lot of social capital to our events with blog posts, tweets and Facebook updates before, during and after the party. Your good will toward the bloggers (as a co-host and the provider of some happy hour food or hors d’ouevres) translates frequently into their social media and community goodwill toward your business. Plus, we bring a really nice crowd, and your staff will probably enjoy having us as your guests.
Host Instagram Brand Ambassadors at your place
Set up an event that highlights your restaurant, e.g. a wine pairing, a cooking demonstration, the rollout of your fall menu, or any other one- to two-hour event that promotes your business. Then we’ll bring a posse of local Instagrammers who are adept in social media, hashtags and being good brand ambassadors. The events are fun, easy and effective.
Host an Instagram event
HoCoBlogs has a posse of local Instagram users who understand IG, social media, tags and how to be brand ambassadors. We can set up and manage an Instagram Brand Ambassador event at your place. You create the event; we bring the people and set the rules of engagement for the brand ambassadors. Examples of what you might do: a wine pairing event, a showcase of your new fall menu, introducing a new chef, a beer flights night … you name it; we’ll bring the people. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for info.
Use Twitter and hashtags with intent
- Follow @HoCoFood on Twitter.
- Follow this list of HoCoFood-related Twitter accounts –and make sure you’re on it, too — to stay up to date with the restaurant scene and to see how other food businesses are managing their Twitter presences. For Columbia, Md., bars, follow this list.
- Get to know your HoCo hashtags. Here’s a robust list. And follow @HoCoBlogs to see an active use of local hashtags.
- Check out #HoCoFood on RebelMouse to see how tweets with that hashtag automatically publish on this site. Better yet, check out #HoCoFood on Tagboard and see the hashtag used across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
- Use local hashtags in your tweets. In particular —
- #HoCoFood (the primary tag for food-related news)
- #HoCoBeer, #HoCoWine
- #HoCoBurgers, #HoCoSushi, #HoCoVegans (have fun here)
- #HoCoEvents (for any and all events in Howard County)
- #HoCoGives (charity events, donation nights, fundraisers)
- #HoCoDeals (for specials)
- #HoCoMd, #ColumbiaMd, #EllicottCity, #OaklandMills, etc. (to indicate place in your tweets)
- Remember, hashtags can be used in Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Twitter and more. They aren’t going away. Using them well and wisely is part of a smart local communications plan.
Tap into Foursquare
If this fits, consider making a FourSquare list of all the known venues in Howard County that offer the same type of live music as your restaurant does or a similar list for, e.g., all the Korean restaurants in Howard County. Why? It makes you a good corporate citizen, provides a service to your customers and helps take your brand out to a wider audience when people share the list with friends. Here are some examples —
- Half-price burgers in Howard County
- Best Coffee Spots in Howard County
- Gluten-free Restaurants in Howard County
- Farms and Farm Stands in and around Howard County
- Dressier Restaurants in Howard County
- Places with Free WiFi in Howard County
- Pizza in HoCo
And of equal importance, are you actively managing your Foursquare site location, including adding tips and watching to see who “your mayor” is? Add tips to your place, encourage check-ins and pay attention to what people are saying.
Does your restaurant have live music?
You can tweet, post Facebook updates, upload photos to Instagram and videos to Vine all with local hashtags. In addition to the ones listed above, try #HoCoMusic, #HoCoKaraoke, #HoCoJazz and other iterations. Connect with the bloggers at HoCoLive.com, and, even better, offer to write a guest post or two for the blog in which you promote or cover the music scene at your restaurant.
Need a URL to share your information?
Perhaps you have news to share, but your restaurant doesn’t have a blog, or your website doesn’t allow easy updates. Try using our HoCo Events calendar to create an event. Make a flier using Smore.com. Or upload a PDF to a Google Doc and set the permissions to “anyone can view.” All these things are free and they give you a URL that you can share on Facebook, Twitter and in email.
Share your news!
Read this page for more tips and help on how to share your news with Howard County bloggers and social media activists and enthusiasts.