Pizza Tweetups Lead to New Friends and Free Pizza
Craig Agranoff’s love for pizza drove him to launch Worst Pizza in March 2008, a site dedicated to finding the best pizza in the country, specifically in South Florida.
And his passion and skill in social media enabled him to quickly popularize that site through Twitter, where he had signed up in December 2007.
Within a year, he had been receiving so many requests from readers wishing to join him in person for a slice, he decided to organize the very first Pizza Tweetup.
And it was a rousing success.
Since that first Pizza Tweetup in early 2009, he’s held several throughout South Florida.
After all, who can turn down free pizza?
Surprisingly, our very own Burger Beast can, who failed to show up to last week’s Pizza Tweetup at Panaretto in Ft. Lauderdale.
And he doesn’t look like he will turn down any free meal. Check out what Agranoff had to say about that in the above video.
But all kidding aside, last week’s Pizza Tweetup was not only a score for pizza connoisseurs who were lucky enough to RSVP in time for the 60 available spots (about 40 people remained on the waiting list), it was a larger victory for the restaurant itself – even if they did give away more than 30 pies that night.
“It probably cost them a couple hundred buck to make those pizzas at cost,” he said. “He probably made that back in soda sales, let alone beer and wine.”
And because so many people tweeted about their experience that night, Panaretto has since seen a surge in sales from people who otherwise would not have ever heard of it.
And more importantly, dozens of people got from behind their computers to do some actual real-life mingling.
“I’ve probably met about 1,000 people since starting these Tweetups,” Agranoff said.
Miami Beach 411 contributor Maria de los Angeles has been attending the Pizza Tweetups from the get-go.
“I’ve been to practically all of them and have met dozens of people,” she said.
“When I go now, I know 97% of the people in the room. That’s a lot of hugs to give! It’s always good to see new faces though. Craig has really turned the tweetup into a social art and the pizza into an edible social object.”
And that is the key behind social media. It’s not just about tweeting this and tweeting that, but about meeting and greeting the people behind those tweets.
“I call it social engagement, not social media,” said Agranoff.
And that is a concept most self-described social media experts fail to recognize; that beyond the email blasts and the Twitter spam and the Facebook fan pages, the one crucial element behind successful business and personal relationships is face-to-face interaction.
“Many people have come to these Tweetups and just naturally ended up doing business together,” he said.
And while nothing beats face-to-face interaction for successful business relationships, we can’t turn a blind eye to the power of social media.
Unfortunately, many pizzeria owners fail to grasp that concept, said Agranoff, who recently published his first book, Do It Yourself Online Reputation Management.
“Most pizzeria owners are Neanderthals,” he said. “They don’t understand the new ways of marketing. They say, ‘my pizza is great and I’m not doing anything to change it,’ but business is down.”
And most pizzeria owners will probably balk at being asked to give away 30 pizzas to dozens of people in exchange for a few tweets.
But the ones that do, have seen their sales double or triple after the event, he said.
Now for the million dollar question we’ve all been dying to ask Agranoff: who serves the best pizza in Miami?
“The best regular slice was at Slice N Ice,” he said, much to my agreement.
“And Spris in Coral Gables makes a nice pie and so does Pizza Volante.”
“And Andiamo was a crowd pleaser as well.”
Agranoff is also quick to point out that the Spris on South Beach is too inconsistent to be ranked alongside the Spris in Coral Gables.
But the only pizzeria in Florida that has earned eight slices on Worst Pizza lies north of the border in Broward at a place called Kitchenetta.
“It’s a little expensive but it never disappoints,” he said.
All pictures shot by Carlos Miller at the most recent Pizza Tweetup
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