Ah, Twitter: that 140-character free-for-all where reputations are made and scandals unfold. As such, it’s a great channel for restaurateurs, chefs, and industry folks to promote their food, converse with customers, joke a bit, and hopefully present themselves as actual human beings. Here at Grub Street, we spend a lot of time updating our profile photo nonstop tracking chefs and restaurants’ Twitter feeds. So we feel qualified to offer a few suggestions.
1. Have something interesting to say. This is the same forum where teenage girls discuss Justin Bieber’s hair and Real Housewives issue provocative thoughts on world events. When you tweet things like “Bobby Flay wears mom jeans,” well, you become one of those people. Be funny, or be quiet.
2. Don’t get all shmoopy. We love Anthony Bourdain and his spunky wife, Ottavia, but missives like “yeah maybe the alcohol will cloud my judgment and you’ll get lucky tonite” make us think that NoReservations should make one at a by-the-hour motel. It’s the Twitter equivalent of PDA, and it’s icky.
3. Promote the career of your significant other sparingly. See: Ludo Lefebvre, a.k.a. Chefludo and his adoring wife, Frenchchefwife. We like them both, and we get that they’re helping each other out, but going overboard with the plugs is making this couple seem a lot less sweet.
4. Beware of overcompensation. As in real life, a bragging tweeter often comes off as insecure. A shout-out about a chef winning an award, or a great review? By all means, share. But the restaurant that touts two-for-one deals, rhapsodizes about amazing specials, and glows about how crowded the dining room is hour after nauseating hour seems desperate. (A few months ago, Boston’s age-old Locke-Ober declared itself “synonymous” with the city; Boston magazine then pretty much just wrote its obituary in a depressing review. Learn from this.)
5. Please don’t tweet at celebrities who will never tweet back. He might be talented, and maybe he’s got a gazillion followers, but tweeting at Justin Timberlake does not make your food taste better. And he’s far too famous to care about your need for a RT.
6. Refrain from open displays of rage. A few weeks ago, London’s ill-fated Otarian restaurant erupted when people dared to tweet about its closure. One choice missive: “U deinitely hv the ‘small dick syndrome’- do u hv a job?do u own ur house or anythng- u peice of cheap s**t?u need help!” Yet earlier, the restaurant had crowed about “saving the planet.” Your fits are funny, but for your own benefit, maybe keep ‘em to yourself.
7. Stop flooding everyone’s feeds with constant retweets. Someone saying something nice about you is not a reason to retweet it to all your followers. (We’re looking at you, Iron Chefs Michael Symon and Marc Forgione.) We don’t need to know that some random 22-year-old had an awesome app at your restaurant, okay?
But remember, the above are just guidelines. If you’re ever unclear, look to people whose Twitters you yourself like following. Do you know why Ruth Bourdain has 43,000 followers? Because he/she is pleasant to follow: Just enough jokes in a day to keep his/her followers happy. So next time you tweet, just think, WWRBD?
Other pieces of advice or examples of online behavior that irk? For that matter, know any restaurants that are fun to follow? By all means, enlighten us in the comments.