Momma Dean’s is a soul food restaurant in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the town where I live. They make fried chicken like your grandma did, and you can have fried okra and gravy with it, too. Go in and sit down and someone will come and sit with you and find out which of the dishes they’re making that day is your favorite, and whether you want banana pudding or peach cobbler with it.
They have no website, not because they don’t think they need one but because they haven’t — with a few tables in a little building they rent from the University — been able to scrape together the funds for one yet. They have big plans, though, not only to get online but to sell their barbecue sauce and eventually to franchise their food. They also plan to provide food for the homeless — one meal given away for every meal they sell.
In order to get from here to there, Momma Dean’s decided to start with a social media campaign. They have a secret weapon in Chance Chapman, their business manager, who has 1200 Facebook friends and is not afraid to use them.
Chance set up a Facebook page for Momma Dean’s and started getting the word out. He told all his Facebook friends about Momma Dean’s, set up events that essentially just announce when it’s time to get your food for tailgating, and sent his updates automatically to Twitter, too.
That’s where I learned about Momma Dean’s. There’s a joke saying that Twitter is where everyone announces what they’re having for lunch. The kernel of truth in it is that a lot of us who work at computers all day do take a break and mosey over to Twitter when it gets close to lunch time. Momma Dean is over there every day telling us they have catfish frying or pie in the oven. I told them they were making me hungry and they responded instantly — “thanks. Come on down. We can even box it up for you to take home if you’d like.” It felt like a real invitation.
Chance only posts once or twice a day, but he answers everyone who interacts with Momma Dean’s right away, conducting the entire social media campaign by phone. He feels that immediate response is the most important element. “It has to be, ‘I’m talkin’ to you,’” he assures me.
Momma Dean’s now has 637 fans at Facebook. They’ve begun adding YouTube videos (shot with Chance’s phone) as well. And business has picked up considerably.