My dear friend Simon moved to Victoria a couple of years ago, so whenever I’m in our Province’s fair capitol, I make sure I carve out some time to hang with him. Simon introduced me to Pizzeria Prima Strada. PPS owns two restaurants and a mobile pizza oven in Victoria, and they make delicious, traditional, Neapolitan wood-burning oven pizza. Did I mention delicious?? Yeah. It’s really, really good.
As is my wont, I took photos of my pizza on Instagram and tweeted them, and checked in on FourSquare. I was pretty impressed at the level of engagement PPS attempted to make with me in return, and I started to look at how they were using social media. Turns out, they’re doing it really well.
Prima Strada is now a “must stop” for me, every time I’m in Victoria. Not just because the pizza is delicious (did I mention that???), but also because they really work for their customers.
Here’s an interview I did with Courtney Gringras, who runs the social media for PPS.
RC: How has being active on social media affected your business in a positive way?
CG: Pizzeria Prima Strada was created to be a neighborhood pizzeria where you could go with your friends and family. We use social media as a way to communicate with our customers and find out who they truly are. It also gives PPS the opportunity to show our customers that we are people just like them. We live and work in Victoria. We love local food, wine and beer. We work for Prima Strada because we love Prima Strada. Vancouver Islanders are amazing people who stop at nothing to support local businesses they connect with. Without social networks we wouldn’t be able to have the same connection with our community.
RC: Do you ever get negative feedback? And how do you handle it?
CG: Of course – negative feedback is part of business today, especially for restaurants. Although it’s hard to read it is 100% necessary. Sometimes a negative complaint can highlight an area that you could improve. We have had a few complaints that made us reconsider aspects of our business and change for the better. I think the most important thing is to respond quickly and try to understand where the person is coming from.
RC: How do you manage your time? Do you have other hats that you wear in the business, or are you dedicated to marketing and social media?
CG: Like most people in small businesses I wear many hats. I bounce between the two PPS locations and our mobile oven filling the gaps. One thing I’ve learned about balancing social media with the rest of life is to embrace technology. Honestly, investing in a good smart phone can make your life much easier. I set my phone to vibrate when anyone tweets/comments at Prima Strada and respond ASAP – much like you would a text. A quick response can make a difference in a customer’s decision. I also have my phone on hand to take photos of daily features and give followers an up-to-date account of what is happening at Pizzeria Prima Strada. Once a week I plan and write blog posts and decide which day they will be published. As for the rest of the social media accounts I do two daily sweeps of about 15-30 minutes – once in the morning and once in the evening. I check the trends, see what events people are talking about, etc. The hard part is when you start having fun with social media – you can easily spend hours trapped browsing Pinterest or chatting on Twitter.
RC: Unlike a lot of businesses, who just have Facebook and maybe Twitter (which makes sense in terms of low-hanging fruit), you guys are also into Instagram and Pinterest. How have using these newer, more marginal, but image-based social networks affected your business?
CG: I must confess – I am addicted to Instagram and Pinterest! Instagram is the perfect tool to use in combination with Twitter. I take all the photos for PPS with my phone so Instagram’s quick filter editing helps make any picture look more professional. I also re-post the edited photos on all our social media accounts including Pinterest. Pinterest is great for gaining traffic to your website or blog – but I think it’s important to use it as a Pinner, not a business. I have boards called “Why I love Victoria” & “Italian Food” not only because they are related to PPS as a brand but because these are topics that I want to share with our followers.
We also recently ran a small, but very successful contest using Instagram at the Rifflandia Festival. To announce the contest, I posted a graphic on Instagram, and had a chalkboard on-site describing the contest with a QR code linking back to the Instagram post.
RC: Thanks, Courtney! I’ll catch up with you over pizza the next time I’m in YYJ!