Brogan: Hamburgers in Milwaukee

We often think of social media as one of two things: something kids do or something for big companies. If we’ve heard about people using social media, it’s either something from a news story about a teen bullying another teen or it’s hearing how JetBlue uses Twitter to improve customer service. The thing is, more and more people are finding success stories in social media. For instance, let’s talk about a hamburger restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Joe Sorge runs AJ Bombers, a place I had the pleasure of visiting last winter after Joe reached out to me via Twitter. (To be fair, Scott Baitinger of Streetza Pizza also reached out, but because my belly wanted burgers more than pizza, Joe gets the story.) He made a simple offer. Hungry? Swing by @AJBombers and try out a Barrie burger.

A Barrie burger is a cheeseburger with two slices of bacon and a dab of peanut butter on top. Some of you wrinkled your nose, but others already have that slow nod going. (It was great, in that Elvis snack way.)

A.J. Bombers is promoted almost solely via social media. Joe tried a little bit of traditional marketing and advertising back in the beginning, but it never seemed to go anywhere. When he started talking back and forth with people on Twitter, he started getting more traction in the restaurant. How much?

Thanks to the enhanced word-of-mouth power of social media, Joe’s business doubled its gross revenue over six months. He didn’t just blurt out ads to the people following him on Twitter, he searched around for people mentioning Milwaukee, and he invited them in for a burger (where appropriate).

It worked well for Joe, and it’s something he’s built into his other restaurants and/or into his belief in the future of marketing and business making.

Don’t worry that you’re a one-person operation. Don’t worry that you’re not in New York or Paris or Tokyo. Social media is about connecting people with like interests, and it can be used by people to find their success in many forms and methods.

That’s the beauty of it. It’s there for you to use to build your own value. And though there are a few rules you might follow, it’s also a lot about figuring out what works best for you. So, give it a spin. What would you have to lose?

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