How Serranos Uses Facebook to Build Community

I go to coffee at Serranos Coffee Company quite often, stick my earphones in, select some music on Pandora, and pound out some work while I sip down my 16 oz coffee. I’m not quite a regular like some of the retirees in town, but I am there at least once a week. Enough to keep an old punch card in my laptop case to rack up to a free coffee.

Something interesting happened this time when I was in line for my order. The man in front of me – perhaps in his 70s – told the lady behind the counter, “I noticed Joe Bohler’s art is back up!” The lady smiled and pulled a box of ping pong balls from behind the counter. He chose one, read the bottom, and got a free Biscotti to enjoy with his coffee. He and the lady laughed at the little “secret code” game they just played.

I thought, “Must be a Facebook thing.” Guess what I did on the spot while waiting? I was tapping in the Serranos Facebook page on my phone to get the code right. I ordered my 16 oz light roast and read from my phone, “I noticed Joe Bohler’s art is back up!” The ping pong balls were given to me to choose from. I got an oatmeal cookie.

My, how enjoyable the exchange. Such a fun and easy transaction. I notice five very wise uses of social media in this little game at Serranos:

  1. Fun. It was fun checking into a “secret code” to get a free cookie. The chuckle I shared with the lady behind the counter was fun.
  2. Attention. For some reason, they wanted to bring attention to the artwork on the wall. I’m noticing what they wanted me to notice.
  3. Easy. If a 70-something can be hip on Facebook, there is no excuse for me.
  4. Consistent. This apparently is an every-Friday event. No wonder this place is packed right now.
  5. Free. The homemade Biscotti or cookie is nothing compared to the value of the relational exchange they made. They’ll probably give away $25 worth of food this morning. The return on the investment is a killer marketing deal.

I’d say the social marketing expense was wisely spent. I’d also say,

These wise uses of social media are helping a small coffee shop in its most important asset: Community.

I felt like I was a part of the community. Seriously, I’m sitting now in the coffee shop – a group of teachers with laptops next to me, a table of retired guys playing cribbage in front of me, a bible study in the booth behind me, and people all over enjoying their coffee. This place is great!

Here’s another revelation: Starbucks is across the street. Half empty. I think Serranos is doing business very wisely.

Question: Are you using Facebook to promote your business? How?

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  • Nina

    I will patronize the small business over the chain at every chance. If they are on Facebook, yep, I hit “like”. We’re fond of a Thai restaurant in our neck of the woods- it supports an extended family, the food is awesome, the place is spotless, the prices very reasonable. They also have Chinese food. A chain (Panda) is closer, but the Thai place is better AND we are helping out a small business. And yes, going regularly makes us feel like we belong there. But they need a Facebook page- next time I am in, I will suggest some of what Serranos is doing.

    • Yep, this is awesome. Social media has changed the game, and the big dogs are playing catch up.

  • Update: after writing this yesterday morning, my wife told me she was going to coffee with a friend. I let her know of the Joe Bohler quote, and the two of them got 30% off their drinks. That’s social media in action!