I miss Avanti’s. It’s a local chain of Italian restaurants in Central Illinois with hands-down the best bread I’ve ever tasted. They’re inexpensive, the service is friendly, and they’re a college-town favorite in the area.
I haven’t lived in Illinois for about 20 years, but my family is there and even though there isn’t an Avanti’s in the town they live in, we make a 30 mile pilgrimage every time I’m home. My family also makes regular trips for their awesome food. Why they don’t have a store in Champaign I will never know, but it doesn’t stop anyone from making the drive.
So, I have Avanti on the brain. I am an Avanti’s Evangelist. How does this help them from where I am in Maryland? I only go there once a year so how much am I worth to them?
One night, I was thinking about how much I’d love to have a roast beef and mozz sandwich on their delicious bread, and I did the next best thing to hopping a flight to Bloomington – I found them on Facebook. I liked their fan page, and professed my undying love to them.
All my friends saw this tribute, and now six of them are fans of the page. Several who live within driving distance of an Avanti’s were reminded of how much they like them, and I’m sure some of them went to pick up a sandwich or a pizza because I mentioned them. And a few probably wondered what the heck I was talking about, but when they went to Bloomington and were hungry, they may have stopped in for the first time based on my recommendation.
Still, I’m one person who maybe got a few people through their doors, and I didn’t buy anything at all. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but consider this…
Avanti’s is in a few small cities in Illinois. Their Facebook fans are not all people who eat there regularly, or even can eat there regularly. A lot of them are people like me, singing their praises from a distance. But all those people have friends who are lucky enough to be able to drive over and eat there. And they also have friends who can do the same.
Facebook reports the average user has 130 friends, and I have about 200 so I’m slightly better than average. So let’s say hypothetically that four friends end up liking Avanti’s after someone talks about how fab they are. Then those four people have 130 people seeing their posts, and four of their friends like Avanti’s. And four of their friends like them. And so on, and so on. See?
That is part of how a very local chain of restaurants has amassed 20,552 Facebook fans at this writing without even trying – they don’t even really post to their page. The other part, of course, is they are very good at what they do and they have the local thing working extremely well for them. Which is why they don’t have to post to their page – their rabid fans are doing the work for them. Spreading the word four friends at a time.
So what can local business owners take from this example?