By Carson Gerber
Kokomo Tribune, Ind.
Want to know how to put social media to good use running your business? Look no further than Cone Palace.
The 47-year-old Kokomo landmark gained a national audience last month after New York Times best-selling author Gary Vaynerchuk featured the restaurant in his new book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy, Social World.”
Vaynerchuk works with Fortune 500 companies to develop digital and social media strategies and content. Businessweek magazine selected him as one of the top 20 people every entrepreneur should follow.
Vaynerchuk first became aware of Cone Palace’s social media practices through Drew Larison, who helps manage the restaurant’s Facebook page and Twitter account. Larison is the social media marketing director at Web Success Agency.
Larison responded to a tweet sent out by Vaynerchuk looking for local businesses to include in his book that effectively use social media.
Sure enough, he called Larison and interviewed him about the good things he was doing for Cone Palace.
Larison said he’s a big fan of Vaynerchuck, so it was great to talk to him and get a spot in his book.
“It’s really neat to have one of our clients in one of his books because I’ve been looking up to him for so long,” he said.
Not only did Vaynerchuk include Cone Palace in the book — he called it one of his best reviewed case studies for how to use social media.
“Cone Palace is an institution in Kokomo, Ind.,” he wrote. “I can’t speak about the food from experience, but if its owners pay as much attention to the quality and taste of their food as they do to their Facebook marketing strategy, it’s no doubt a good reason why they’ve stayed in business since 1966.”
Vaynerchuk praised the restaurant and ice cream parlor for landing 2,000 fans as soon as they launched their Facebook page by promoting a big event and offering a 10 percent discount.
He also noted they only use high-quality photos, keep their posts simple and try to engage viewers with posts that talk about things other than their products.
“Their standards are high and exacting,” Vaynerchuk wrote. “Before posting anything, they ask themselves, ‘If I saw this picture, would I share it?’ If the answer is no, they don’t post.”
Lisa Smeltzer, who owns Cone Palace with her husband, Jeff, said they first got a Facebook page in 2010, and set up a Twitter account a year-and-a-half ago.
They now have over 8,000 followers on Facebook, and want to keep growing.
“We do our best to keep up with the trends,” she said. “It’s kind of fun. Twitter is such a neat way to talk to people.”
Smeltzer said she was surprised and flattered that Vaynerchuk chose to include Cone Palace in his book, and they’re grateful for the national exposure.
“I’m sure he had thousands of businesses he could have picked from, so it’s pretty flattering that he found us worthy to include,” she said.
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Larison said it’s also good exposure for Kokomo.
“It’s cool that a small mom-and-pop restaurant in Kokomo is getting such national attention,” he said. “It’s great for Kokomo. Hopefully this trend will keep going.”