Welcome! It’s the last Wednesday of the month which means it’s time to take a step back and interview another small business who we think is rocking social media in a pretty cool way. This week we’re excited to share a recent conversation we had with Robbie Vitrano, co-founder and Chief Brand Architect of Naked Pizza.
If you’re not familiar with Naked Pizza, it’s time that you are. Not only are they doing pizza better by encouraging people to make healthier eating decisions, but they’re using tools like Twitter, Facebook and the Naked Pizza Web site to extend that message and to get it in front of more eyes.
Recently I had a chance to chat with Robbie about the company he founded, why they’re so connected, and the “blog maverick” responsible for Naked Pizza’s full body jump into social media.
1. Bring us back to the beginning – How did Naked Pizza get involved in social media? Was there a plan beforehand or did you just jump in feet first?
The nudge came from investor Mark Cuban in 2009. We took down our sign in front of the store and replaced it with one that said “follow us on twitter @nakedpizza” so yeah, you could say we jumped in with both feet, arms, legs, elbows, ears…
2. I’ll be honest – my first exposure to Naked Pizza was the billboard you rented in New Orleans that directed people to your Twitter account (in lieu of a phone number). What was the motivation behind that? What did you achieve?
At the core, we liked the idea of a highly engaged dialogue with customers at the root of our business. We want to change the nutritional profile of fast food, we want people to reconsider the food supply from plow to plate, we want to demonstrate that fast food can be part of the solution for the global epidemic of obesity and chronic disease like type-2 diabetes, we want to start the world biggest grassroots health movement…If you hope to take it beyond pizza and $5.99 for a two-topping medium pie, you’d better have something to say. More importantly, you’d better have something that people wanted to hear and are willing to share. Enter Twitter and social media as the perfect complement to our business.
3. I’ve read that you consider Naked Pizza to be a social media company that just so happens to sell pizza. Do you think that’s true for all SMBs in today’s environment? How does that mindset change the way you do business?
To a degree it is true for most SMBs trying to crack consciousness, especially if their ambition is to be both profitable and contribute some social benefit. We believe that all businesses should make that consideration, so through iteration, yes, businesses should be social and plugged in to the word on the street.
4. It feels like you’re selling a lot more than just social media and pizza – you’re trying to start a greater conversation about diet-related obesity and illness. How has social media helped you get that message out? Do you think it’s working?
Our publishing platform transcends social media to include our web site, blog, in store media and ipads, conferences, even online ordering. Doing this effectively requires content. We’re careful to establish trust and not violate the expectations of people who want a healthier pizza, but we’re very much aware that if we do what we say we’re going to do, there’s a moment – an honest exchange when we hand over a pizza – that also makes it possible to share a few weightier issues about the fact that the health of this country and many developing countries (UAE has the second highest incidence of type 2 diabetes per capita in the world) is in a free fall. We’re reaching the point where there are as many people obese as there are starving which is almost obscene. But that’s not about blame, that’s about facts and a system overwhelming our biology. Add to this the attendant unsustainable cost of healthcare and you’ve got a problem that needs fixing. And yes, a business idea that goes beyond pizza.
5. What tools are in place to help you track the effects social media is having? What types of metrics are you tracking?
We track engagement through a number of channels like google analytics, klout and Sprout as well as our own system integrated into a highly sophisticated POS system.
6. Small business owners are known for being busy. How do you find the time to be so engaged in social media?
It’s fundamental to our business. If there are 3 or four things every executive needs to be involved with, one is growing and retaining new customers. The other is remaining highly engaged and in touch with the field on which you play. To me it’s inconceivable that you’d be too busy not to engage in social media.
7. To all the SMB owners out there who may be skeptical of getting involved in social media, what would you tell them?
Your brand is not what you say it is, it’s what THEY say it is. It’s always been that way, only more so today. Is your business based on developing trusted relationships? Do you care about what is important to your customer and what they share about your company with their network? if they answer is “no,? god bless and keep working whatever magic got you here.
Wow. Thanks so much to Robbie for sharing his story and the story of Naked Pizza. Remember, the last Wednesday of each month we’ll be featuring an interview with a business using social media in cool and exciting ways. Know a business you want to see featured? Drop us an email at bizsugardotcom [at] gmail [dot] com and let us know!