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Is it better to Yelp or to Tweet?

Figuring out what form of social media works best for your small business or restaurant is an ongoing process. SmartBrief Senior Editor Megan Conniff reached out to the front-of-house manager Nicole Maddocks at Garrido’s Restaurant in Austin, Texas, to learn how this young business is tackling social media and engaging its customers. Maddocks is responsible for monitoring and posting on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and more for Garrido’s.

(Disclosure: SmartBrief employee Elena Ziebarth’s brother is the general manager at Garrido’s.)

How did Garrido’s develop its social-media game plan? How has it evolved since you first started using social media?

We started out just exploring the idea of using Facebook as an avenue of free marketing, then expanded to Twitter. Then we learned how valuable maintaining our presence on Yelp, Citysearch and sites like that is. Now Foursquare, a social-mapping/city guide, is the new trend, so I’m trying to jump on that bandwagon by offering specials when people become the “mayor” of Garrido’s (someone becomes the mayor when they are the most frequent visitor of a location). Our social-media game plan is ever-evolving because that is the nature of social media itself.

Do you make changes to the restaurant or menu based on online reviews or customer comments? In general, is such feedback useful to you as a front-of-house manager?

So far, only minor changes have been made. We have noticed that people either love or hate our beans on Yelp reviews, so we’ve recently made some tweaks to make them more widely appreciated (fingers crossed!).

What is Garrido’s Twitter strategy? Do you engage actively with your followers?

I attempt to post something roughly every other day, so as to not irritate my followers with constant postings. My posts are usually something about specials we’re having or perhaps related to one of our other social-media outlets. I try to reply to anyone who mentions Garrido’s on Twitter – even if it’s a “Great! Thanks! Can’t wait to see you again!” I think it’s important to interact and not just spew marketing at them.

Which social-media platform or tool has proven to be the most useful in engaging diners and driving foot traffic to Garrido’s – Facebook, Yelp or Twitter?

Most people go to Yelp for restaurant reviews and advice, so as much as I wish my answer could be Twitter because I spend so much energy on it, I would have to say Yelp. As a “business owner,” we can log in on Yelp to see our page views and respond to any comments, so I try to be interactive on there (mostly through private messages, especially if they do not give perfect reviews). If they have any complaints, I offer them a free appetizer to entice them to come back.

Rewards Network program, which is trackable down to the dollar amount spent by members, and it has been very beneficial. Their diners also write comments, and I am sure to respond to each one. I would say that 95% of those comments have been positive so far.

Do you have any tips or ideas for Garrido’s and other businesses as they develop their social-media strategies? What works for your business?

Want to learn about how to tackle your company’s social-media strategy? Morton’s the Steakhouse’s SVP Roger Drake and Yelp’s business-outreach manager, Luther Lowe, will join Andy Sernovitz for a special SmartBrief Webinar: Social Media for Restaurants on April 28.