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Opening Day at Tony C’s Sports Bar and Grill: Facebook and Free Marketing

For businesses that use it well and wisely, Facebook provides a free platform upon which they can market themselves. Businesses that use Facebook are able to reach a larger audience, generate content outside of their personal website, and establish a forum for interaction with consumers of their product.

We recently designed and implemented a unique Facebook “challenge” for our restaurant clients to establish an online presence in order to promote the persona of their restaurant in advance of their actual opening date. Social media marketing is most effective when it is truly interactive and speaks from the voice of the entity – in this case the restaurant. To build an audience, you must engage in a conversation that is topical, fun, inviting and NOT just a sales pitch. Social media users are savvy and their time is valuable. There is too much to choose from to expect them to play in a boring sandbox.

tony c logoSeveral months prior to its opening in late December, we began a conversation online for Tony C’s Sports Bar & Grill located at Assembly Row in Somerville. We were not selling the restaurant, nor did our client want us to. The owner wanted to reinvigorate the storied life of its namesake by sharing moments from his life and career and we saw Facebook was the perfect vehicle. Tony C’s Sports Bar & Grill was named for Red Sox icon and Massachusetts native, Tony Conigliaro. He wore #25 for the Red Sox and was a Boston legend, something that we highlighted on the restaurant’s Facebook page.pic2

Furthermore, we established a theme around the #25 and launched a “25 Days of #25” campaign designed to excite fans and spark discussion of Tony C memories on the restaurant’s Facebook page. Regan Communications Group was even lucky enough to work with the owners of Tony C’s as the Red Sox invited Tony’s brother Billy to take the mound on September 25th to commemorate Tony C’s 50th Anniversary of joining the Red Sox.

Engagement on the Facebook page was focused on a thoughtful mix of photographs, YouTube videos, trivia questions, and stories. We learned quite a bit about Tony C and the interesting life he led along the way, information that was later shared with the growing fans on the restaurant’s Facebook page. Did you know that in 1971, when producer Al Ruddy was looking for a handsome Italian to cast for the part of Michael Corleone in “The Godfather,” he asked Tony C to audition? The role of Michael Corleone was one of the most sought-after of the time, with big names like Robert Redford and Robert De Niro auditioning for the part.pic Tony C auditioned while he was living in California and playing baseball for the Angels, but the role was ultimately given to Al Pacino.

Or how about that Tony C. went into TV sports broadcasting after retiring in 1975? He worked first as a sports anchor in Providence, R.I with WJAR-TV, Ch.10, and NBC affiliated. (He covered the 1975 World Series for the station). One year later, in August of 1976, he took a similar position with ABC owned and operated station, WKGO-TV, Ch.7, in San Francisco.

Since 1990, the Tony Conigliaro Award has been awarded annually to the MLB player who overcomes a major life-altering adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage embodied by Conigliaro. Do you know which 3 players received the Tony Conigliaro Award while playing for the Red Sox? (Hint: two of the recipients were traded by the Red Sox this year). Check out Tony C’s Sports Bar & Grill’s Facebook page to find out!

By September 26th, over 300 people joined the conversation. Now, nearly 1000 people “like” Tony C’s Somerville and the numbers continue to grow every day.

The continued engagement with fans on their Facebook page over the course of the fall and into the winter ensured that followers of the page never forgot about the impending restaurant opening, making opening day a major success. Establishing dialogue with its public early on and encouraging reviews and comments on its page, Tony C’s exemplifies the proper use of Facebook. These efforts have made Tony C’s an approachable brand and turned their Facebook page into a gathering place for those it serves.

Team Mariellen 

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