Social Media Case Study: How The Pit Uses Twitter and Foursquare

The Pit BBQ in Raleigh, NC
The Pit BBQ in Raleigh, NC

I’ll admit it, I’m totally biased and a fanboy of The Pit BBQ in downtown Raleigh, there, that’s out of the way.

I first tried The Pit when Michael Hubbard took me to lunch there last September. Michael runs one of Raleigh’s small advertising firms, which just happens to be exactly a 90 second walk away. We were having a good discussion that day, so I wasn’t really focused on the food, but my pulled pork sandwich was good, and the place was certainly a step (or 10) up from the normal BBQ place.

Later that month, I was back there for a Tweetup where someone from The Pit came out and chatted with us for a second and thanked us for all the Twitter chatter. I took note, it was the first time I saw a restaurant actually reaching out like that.

Once I got hooked on Foursquare, I became “the mayor” of The Pit. Then my buddy Jeremy (who also works downtown running a kick-ass interactive company) stole my mayorship away by checking in there more times than me! It was on!

I started using The Pit as my unofficial meeting place. When people would say, “let’s meet up”, I would suggest The Pit. When friends or family come to town, I suggest we hit The Pit.

I’m the mayor of The Pit again, well at least I am as of 11-22-2009.

So here’s what I’m getting at, last week I saw a tweet sent out from the official Twitter account of The Pit:

@ThePitBBQ calling us out?
@ThePitBBQ calling us out?

That was an awesome shoutout! It did a number of smart things.

  1. Recognized people who regularly mention The Pit in their tweets
  2. Made a very small number of people feel special
  3. Started some buzz (more about that later)

I had plans that morning to meet my friend at PeiWei in Cary that day, when I saw that tweet, I emailed him and told him we were meeting at The Pit. I also pinged a couple of friends, but with only 30 minutes notice, it was just me and my buddy.

A minute or two after I arrived and was sitting down with my friend, Eric Harris came out and introduced himself. I thought that was really cool that he knew I was “the mayor” and took time out of the busy lunch schedule to stop by, but then he did it – he said that lunch was on the house that day!

I was floored. At the end of lunch I double checked with him, and he insisted, not just my lunch, but my friends, and even the take-out plate my friend had ordered for his wife.

I’m pretty sure Eric was ready to extend that courtesy to any of the people he invited that day, I just happen to be the lucky one that could make it.

So let’s see exactly what The Pit’s $33 investment bought them? As if I wasn’t already a huge fan, I was now a fan of the food and their understanding of how social media works. Of course I jabbed my friends who said they couldn’t make it. I mentioned it to North Carolina’s Social Media Rockstar Wayne Sutton who said, “…that’s how you suppose to use social media/twitter/foursquare/tools smart“. I couldn’t agree more.

I only have a few hundred followers, but Wayne has over 30,000 people that see his tweets. When he talks about how awesome The Pit is, lots of people see it.

Yesterday was the 65th Annual Raleigh Christmas Parade. Downtown was packed with thousands of people. My family parked across the street from The Pit and walked the 4 or 5 blocks to the parade route. I knew we’d be coming back this way for lunch. After the parade, my family and 12 additional friends walked over for lunch. Thankfully we beat the rush and they put together a cozy table for 15. As we were starting to scatter (3 of us has small kids with us) Eric appeared again to say hello. Wayne ended up talking to him about doing a full scale Tweet Up there soon.

Guy Fieri jumping in his ride after lunch at The Pit in Raleigh
Guy Fieri jumping in his ride after lunch at The Pit in Raleigh

The Pit doesn’t need me to tweet out for them, they don’t even need Wayne. Ever since Ed Mitchell (the Pit Master) did a Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network, they’re packed all the time. That’s what makes it even smarter. They know that the big splashes will eventually fade, and they’ll be left with a core of super satisfied locals who will continue to pack that place.

But, just so you don’t think it’s lost any of it’s celebrity shine, I was in there Saturday for lunch after the Raleigh Christmas parade, and as my family was just pulling away, my wife spotted Guy Fieri chatting with some people before hopping in his black SUV and driving away. My wife snapped the photo on the left, but stopping the car, getting out, and waiting for the camera to boot up to a minutes, so all you get to see if his crazy hair.

All I can say is that The Pit “get’s it”. They’re using social media the way it’s suppose to be used, to build great relationships.

In the end, if I love The Pit, why wouldn’t I become an evangelist for them?