Most small businesses haven?t awakened to the possibilities of using Facebook to their advantage. The Black Rooster restaurant in Folsom, California, however, has. They are part of the avant-garde mom-and-pop businesses that are seeing traffic increase as a result of an on-line, constant contact, presence.

The Black Rooster in Folsom, CaliforniaThis friendly restaurant located on historic Sutter Street of gold mining fame in the old town area has established a Facebook following, in addition to more traditional advertising. An Entertainment Book coupon led us to the little storefront and the colorful gelato bin drew us into the establishment.
 
While waiting for our sandwiches, we noticed the invitation to "Follow us on Facebook" sign. This makes The Black Rooster, the one in five small businesses that uses social media to keep in touch with customers. The University of Maryland?s Robert H. Smith School of Business noted that of the one fifth of internet savvy small businesses, most favored the social networking site Facebook by a large margin.
 
Of those small businesses that go the social media route, 73 percent are using Facebook. Ambitious entrepreneurs are blogging about their business only 28 percent of the time. Surprisingly, the contact medium that fell at the bottom in the survey was Twitter with 23 percent. We could hypothesize why, but will leave that for marketing analysts to expound upon. We checked into how Facebook was working for The Black Rooster.
 
Black Rooster is widely known for its sandwiches...We found that the staff posts interesting pieces of information, with a come-on to draw clients in the door. Other small business concerns could learn from their techniques.

The Black Rooster keeps their customers up on current events, such as this comment: "Cool, right by our front door!" referring to the AmGen bicycle race. They included a link to the Folsom Telegraph?s coverage of the biggest bicycle race in North America. The 810-mile AmGen tour?s map for 2010 showed that the cyclists would be routed down Sutter Street. Spectators could munch on sandwiches, sip coffee or slurp gelato and hook into the free Wi-Fi while waiting to cheer the riders as they passed by.
 
Facebook friends checking in on The Black Rooster will also be exposed to a history lesson. This brief look should start several conversations, ?"Coffee was such an important item during that time period, that it was legal in Turkey for a woman to divorce her husband if he could not supply her with enough coffee. Oh my………..?  Hopefully, it will also make customers start licking their lips for a cup of the organic, Fair-Trade, shade-grown Tony’s Coffee or Espresso served in the restaurant.

Caffee Classico GelatoFor example one entry reads: "70 degrees this weekend, fantastic! Are you coming down to Historic Folsom for Gelato?" They serve Caffee Classico gelato, from the premier gelato supplier in the US. The supplier?s 50 different flavors, including this month?s recipe for Spiced Peach and Nectarine Dark Rum Flambé over Ginger Gelato, have come a long way from the oldest known recipe written by a Roman general in the first Century BC.

You can see how a small, quality shop can build a faithful following with quality food and good advertising. The Black Rooster uses local community news as another jumping off point to tell people of their services: "We are really looking forward to hosting a Baby Shower this Saturday evening for parents-to-be Melissa & Erik! Do you have any private events you need a cozy venue for? Call us!"  Now this business must have a marketing manager who knows the hot buttons ? Get attention, tell your story, ask for the sale.
 
Why does this seem to be working for them? Many public relations attempts are short-lived. A newspaper article is quickly yesterday?s news. Coupons in the local "PennySaver" home delivered ad rag expire quickly. Facebook is timely as well as on-going. However, it takes careful orchestrating not to make your site turn into an advertising platform rather than a means of social networking that makes people return to see what you have to say. The Black Rooster seems to have hit on a successful formula.