Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm Cafe is one of the most successful (not to mention famous) food and tourism businesses in Tasmania, if not Australia.
It's a bit of an icon....to say the least. Every time I holidayed in Tassie it was always one of my first stops!
Late last year when I decided I wanted to get out of the house for a couple days a week my friend (who works there) suggested I apply for a job at the cafe as it was coming into their busy summer period and they were hiring more staff.
So I did! One random Thursday I walked in and asked to speak to Lindi the manager (and whose family own it). She hired me on the spot.
I'll admit I'm a rubbish waitress, I always have been, I even admit it to customers when I serve them (Coz i'm honest like that)! I'm a 100% fashion retail person, as this was what I did throughout my late teens and early 20s before I became a photographer. I've always done exceptionally well in sales. I really can sell ice to eskimos!
But I wanted a "no brainer" job and this was perfect. So I thought!!
Once Lindi found out I was professional photojournalist by trade, who was also a qualified merchandiser AND ran a tourism business through social media she quickly put me to work and started rostering me on as "photos"
I told her my 1DS MKIII was in getting repaired as I dropped it off Quamby Bluff so she lent me her little DSLR. Proving the rule you dont need fancy equipment to take great photos I quickly went to work. I reshot most of the summer menu, as well as images for the cafe and their new shop. (I'm so proud of my work being featured as banners in the shop) I spent time in the kitchen using my iPhone and Xperia's and on the farm using Lindis little DSLR.
I also became an admin for their facebook page and hence became their Social Media Manager.
I noticed hundreds of customers in the cafe taking photos of their meals and so I suggested we set up an instagram account and started competitions to capture all these great images coming out of the cafe. Basically milk it for everything we can get!
It worked a treat.
I confess I'm not very active on my personal social media sites (and this blog). Mainly because I'm a super social person in real life. I'm always out and about catching up with my myriad friends or doing day trips to some random place and generally living my life to the best I possibly can.
Plus I seriously don't care how many people want to be my friend, or choose to follow me or generally being "popular"in the digital world. I also don't have push notifications on my phone as I find it rude to be on your phone when you are catching up with people. The only time my phone comes out of my pocket is if I want to take a photo.
However, from a business and professional perspective I really struggle with the amount of tourism businesses (especially here in Tasmania) who wont allow you to take photos. I can understand they are afraid of copyright. But what they don't understand is its not about visitors wanting to copy their work, its about visitors enjoying their time in their businesses and wanting to share it with their bazillion friends. Its FREE advertising to the masses!
A lot of people think social media is hard work...it really isn't. All you have to do is figure out what your customers/followers want.....then feed it to them on a platter..........continually!
Over and over again.
Even if you're sick and tired of it, feed it to them more and more. Through this you are constantly seducing them which keeps you in their mind and subtly help them in making a decision.
Like chocolate coated raspberries.
And raspberry wedding cakes!
The above photos have had the most hits of any photos I've published online for Christmas Hills.
But does it lead to sale? It sure does!
When the cafe decided to ship the chocolates to the mainland We posted the above image on Facebook saying we are now taking nationwide orders. The Cafes inbox went crazy with orders!
Another example is the Kiss Biscuits. One day one of the apprentice Chefs accidentally used self raising flour instead of plain flour for the tart bases. Rather than ditching the mixture they were made into Kiss Biscuits. A household Tasmanian treat. A sandwiched biscuit with icing on top and raspberry jam in the middle. I took a shot uploaded it to Facebook and Instagram and it went viral, they sold out every day. One girl even drove 50kms to come and try one, her exact words when she walked in the cafe was "Facebook brought me here"
Since I took over the social media accounts for Christmas Hills, their Facebook likes tripled and the Instagram account has gained a fantastic local and international following!
I followed a simple formula and with it came success.
I am also keeping my position as their social media manager and continuing my work with the assistance of one of the chefs there.....even once I've left the island.
Thats the beauty of social media though, it can be done from anywhere!