Case Study: Social Media's Impact on AJ Bombers Restaurant

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

AJ Bombers opted out of a pricey marketing budget and instead turned to social media to grow its business. In this lesson, you'll learn more about the impact social media has had on this Milwaukee burger joint.

A Burger and a Tweet

What do burgers, badges and bombers have in common? One stellar marketing strategy that propelled a Milwaukee hamburger joint named AJ Bombers into the ROI stratosphere.

It started when AJ Bombers owner Joe Sorge got the idea to open a restaurant focused on, according to the company's website, ''P-Nuts, Burgers & Beer,'' in 2009. Around the same time, Sorge started studying up on the art of using social media to market and advertise his business. In fact, he committed to only using social media to get the word out instead of a more traditional approach that might involve newspaper ads and television or radio commercials.

Sorge decided that word-of-mouth marketing, where customers spread the word about his establishment, coupled with creating a following on Facebook and Twitter (as well as another trick we'll talk about in a minute) is the best avenue to choose. It reaches a far wider audience, even with a marketing budget of $0. Sorge's approach to sharing updates, encouraging people to check in at his restaurant, and responding in a timely manner - in essence, building relationships with his customers - net him better results than advertising on TV ever could.

AJ Bombers' Story

AJ Bombers' first foray into social media marketing started with Twitter ... and a little bit of good luck.

Twitter First

Sorge's first foray into Twitter ran him right into blogger and best-selling author Chris Brogan. Because Sorge understood the importance of engaging in conversations on social media, he responded to a tweet from Brogan about things to do in Milwaukee. The pair later met up for lunch at Sorge's restaurant. After their meeting, Brogan took to his blog to write about Sorge's commitment to social media marketing, which thrust the burger place into the public eye, earning them stories in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as an invitation to Travel Channel's Food Wars, which they subsequently won.

Sorge kept up his Twitter usage, taking advantage of the search function to listen in on conversations being had about his brand. A few days later, Sorge started engaging in conversations of his own on the platform, working to build relationships with people in the community. Sorge said he realized conversations on Twitter could involve multiple participants, unlike email which restricts a conversation to two parties. AJ Bombers took the Twitter love to another level as well, incorporating it in the very fabric of the restaurant, including giving sandwiches their own hashtags and inviting diners to write their own usernames on the restaurant's walls. Implementing hashtags, searchable keywords on social media, in its menu helps give diners another touchpoint to talk about AJ Bombers online.

On to Foursquare

Watching Twitter, Sorge said he noticed his followers starting to adopt another social media forum, a local search program known as Foursquare. Foursquare allows users to ''check in'' at various locations. To make use of the attention to the program and implement another form of social outreach, Sorge created an event where users could earn the Swarm badge, a reward for gatherings of 50 or more Foursquare users.

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