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Saladworks' social media strategy

Why him? When Donaberger first started at Saladworks, the Conshohocken, Pa.-based chain had 10,000 Facebook fans and 1,000 Twitter followers. In the span of just over a year, he has more than doubled its Facebook fans to 26,000 and quadrupled Twitter followers to more than 4,000—through his insistence on constant, relevant content and personal responses. Since being snatched up by the fast-casual salad chain from advertising agency Mullen in 2012, he has moved its social media channels to the forefront, changing the entire marketing strategy and culture for the brand—all at the age of 25. Restaurant Business asked him to share some of his secrets.

How do you get consumers to engage? Work on content that you want to see, so others want to see it. We find that office-related stuff [and] photos of store openings do fairly well. For example, we posted a vintage shot of employees at our original location in 1987 and pictures of our Singapore store opening, and both got great results. We’ve done posts that involve and engage our customers for the purpose of market research, customer feedback or just plain fun.

What’s a big mistake brands make in social media? I hate when a business or brand will follow me and won’t respond to anything I say. I’m not on social media to listen; I want them to acknowledge me, and I want to revel in the fact that I’m speaking to a brand with star power. You have to go beyond simply following your fans. People want to know that someone is listening to what they say. That’s what drives my overarching goal for Saladworks: To be a restaurant brand that listens and makes the world listen to us in turn.

Is there anything else operators don’t know but should? When I was in advertising, one of my favorite phrases to clients was, “If you’re not using it, you don’t get it.” It’s very different to get marketed at and talked to, and customers know. We had a post from a well-known Twitter comedy account that is notoriously difficult to approach that said “legit eating lunch at Saladworks because their twitter account made me laugh today ...” We use Twitter to talk to our customers, and that post, while not direct marketing, still brought consumers in the door. Follow brands that you enjoy and read different posts to understand the language that’s used, then start making posts of your own and open up some dialogues.

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