Social media has changed the way many marketers approach their strategic planning.  The businesses that are realizing a positive return from their social media efforts are those that are using their creativity and invoking innovation to do things a new way, a unique way, and ultimately a successful way.

One example that I came across recently is organized by a group called Taste and Tweet. In their own words:

TasteandTweet.com organizes a group of socially networked people that enjoy connecting and meeting with others over food and drink.  These teams of TasteTweeters then taste, savor, and tweet.  Their followers in their offices, at home, and on the road can share their tasting experience via these tweets and they, in turn, can respond with questions or they can forward (re-Tweet) the tasting comments to their own circle of followers.  Thus in mere minutes these comments can travel from trusted party to trusted party through these ever expanding rings of acquaintances (followers).

Recently I was invited, by Taylor Peterson, to attend one of these events being held at Icon Grill here in downtown Seattle.  Having witnessed the tweets coming from friends that had attended previous events I had an idea of what I was getting myself in to. And I was stoked. So, you get to go sit at a great local restaurant, get served amazing food, talk with the chef and staff — and then tweet about your experience.  Now, normally it’s rude to tweet through dinner.  During these events the guilt is off!  That’s the point.  You share your experiences with your followers.  From a participants perspective it’s a great experience.  Great food, great friends and Twitter.  These are some of my favorite things.

From a restaurants perspective it seems even better.  While I won’t get into the business behind the scenes (I’ll leave that to Taylor and the Taste and Tweet crew) I will point out some of the benefits for the establishment.  First, you get a group of 20 or so avid social media users to come in to your restaurant and share with all of their followers.  The individuals who are invited to participate have a respectable following on Twitter and are local as well increasing the relevance of their outgoing content.  Honestly, as a business owner I would think you could only dream about having that kind of word of mouth advertising reaching your customers.  Second, brand loyalty is built with these “influential” individuals.  And helllooooo SEO! Look, I linked to them :) .  Not because I was asked to, or paid to (those tweets I suppose are considered sponsored) but because I fell in love with their business and had an amazing experience that I wanted to share.

The advertising/marketing reach of this type of event surely don’t end with the dining event either.  I can assure you, I know have a very special place in my heart for the noms that come from Icon Grill.  The chef was incredibly warm and welcoming as well as damn good at creating amazing plates!  I cannot wait to go back and bring other friends with me to show the place off to them.

So before I show you some of the amazing plates we got to devour I just want to say, go and be creative with your efforts.  Think of ways to utilize current channels in new ways.  I think this Taste and Tweet adventure is a great example of both creating value for your organization by also providing value to the community.  Certainly there are others!  Let’s hear it!

Now, without further adieu, some drool worthy pics from the Taste and Tweet at Icon Grill ~

The beautiful private dining room where we were hosted

The beautiful private dining room where we were hosted

Mmmm Beer! The flight of beer we got to taste!

Mmmm Beer! The flight of beer we got to taste: Spaten Oktoberfest New Belgium, Hoptober Hobräu Oktoberfest

Sausage. Yummy, yummy sausage!

Sausage. Yummy, yummy sausage: German bratwurst, Polish kielbasa, Nürnberger rostbratwurst and fresh lamb sausage; served with sauerkraut, whole grain mustard and horseradish.

Schweineschnitzel Sliders -- So tasty!!

Schweineschnitzel Sliders -- So tasty!!

Amazing slow roasted Beef over saurkraut and horseradish potato cake

Amazing slow roasted Beef over saurkraut and horseradish potato cake

Super tasty Oatmeal Cookie martini -- with an oatmeal cookie :)

Super tasty Oatmeal Cookie martini -- with an oatmeal cookie :)

The best dessert EVER -- Apple Streudel of course :)

The best dessert EVER -- Apple Streudel of course :)

Did I mention that the theme was “Oktoberfest”?  Should be obvious at this point :)

Now that I’ve got you all drooling I highly suggest you go visit the Icon Grill.  Or next time you’re in Seattle let me know and we’ll go together!