Canters Deli has been serving Los Angeles since the 1930s. I recently visited for the first time, immediately knowing the place had the ingredients of genuinely good pickles and tuna fish sandwiches. Even the clanging of plates and silverware add to the atmosphere’s flavor. Waitresses deliver orders along with words of “love,” “honey,” and “sweetheart” to customers.
This is not where I expected thoughts of social media to spring up after climbing a flight of stairs. Up there, a wall of framed articles documented the restaurant’s history in the media. Photographs created a timeline of the people and stories which shape the business we see today.
The concept seems so familiar. I was reading and seeing an older generation’s version of social media. Similar to how people update their Facebook pages, the restaurant had posted on their wall (an actual wall in this case) its history dating back decades. No matter at what table people sit, they likely can see an image or story.
Seeing this while enjoying my tuna sandwich reinforced my theory that social media is not an entirely new concept. Many of us now present our own stories differently, taking advantage of today’s tools. One advantage of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the slew of social media cousins seeking seats at the adult table is these platforms allow us to tell our stories without people needing to actually visit our homes and restaurants. Reaching across the table takes on wider meaning.
However, the essence of social media is what we share. And dare I say being a person (and not a salesperson) has not changed much with the times. Yes, several social media experts act as if they are wearing white coats in science labs watching beakers bubble with formulas. If you struggle with conducting normal conversations with people, maybe you need a coach. But that would mean you need a coach in your corner whether it is 2012 or 1950. Business is relationships and building those still depend on finding common interests and sharing tidbits about ourselves. Sometimes strategies include offering coupons or gimmicks to persuade people to peek into the window or walk through the door. Sound familiar?
Some businesses don’t realize social media is a new platform, not necessarily a new way, and confuse themselves. They don’t understand how sharing pictures from the weekend makes sense. How different are such personal posts than flipping open a wallet years ago and showing someone you just met pictures of friends and family?
On The Flip Side, your Facebook page should not replace the face-to-face timeline you see at a deli like Canters. Take advantage of today’s more advanced tools, but don’t forget the effectiveness of also sharing stories firsthand over pickles and sandwiches.