A social media firestorm has erupted over a fake restaurant that briefly became London’s top-rated eatery on TripAdvisor. But the restaurant never actually existed. This video explains how the Shed at Dulwich rose to the top of more than 18,000 restaurants over a seven-month extended campaign. While we don’t condone fakery, we commend journalist Oobah Butler, who pulled off the stunt, for using good social media marketing tactics to make it work.
There are lessons here for B2B marketers about how to use social media and appropriate word-of-mouth marketing to promote their own legit brands and products. In short, take the long view and frame your message from the start, sticking to key talking points and repeating them to reviewers who might be inclined to review your products and services. You should also concentrate on the most appropriate social networks to match your market; the Shed used Instagram and a series of carefully prepared food photos, since that is what resonates on that network. Butler understood the value of a good photo in his promotion, and that the look of the plate can be more important than the actual ingredients, which in many professional food photos is often inedible.
The Shed never cheated anyone, and the prank wasn’t intended to steal money. It was intended to show up TripAdvisor, and it succeeded masterfully. Butler did end up serving a meal to a few select folks, but didn’t charge them. He had a certain graceful charm that is appealing. The experiment demonstrates the value of knowing your market and being trendy but not going over the top. It also shows why having some fun with your social media accounts doesn’t hurt.