Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pizza art helps make social media the place to be for Greathouse of Pizza

Open since 2008, The Greathouse of Pizza in Casey, IL found that artistic expression pays off in big rewards. Trent Groothuis (pronounced Great House) joined Facebook in 2009 but did not become active until 2011. Last year they joined Instagram and found that response to photos was great.

Casey, IL is a town of about 2,500 people about 30 minutes from Terre Haute, Indiana. He recently was featured in the news for his pizza art which he uses to entice people on social media. Trent shared with us his secrets of success with Facebook and Instagram.

Q: When and why did you join Facebook? Instagram?

We joined Facebook back in 2009. I joined because I thought it would be a cheap way of advertising and letting people in the area know about our pizza. In 2011 is about the time when we started using it every day. We post pictures of our food and our specials about everyday to try to get interaction with the people who like our page. We sometimes give away free food or gift cards with trivia or randomly pick a name of someone who has "shared" and "liked" our photo. We also run an advertisement (one we pay for) about once or month to try to get knew likes. 

We joined Instagram last year. We mainly use this for quick pictures of food or the pizza art we have just made. 

Q: When did you start the pizza art? What kind of attention has it drawn?

I started the pizza art in October. I did a ribbon pizza for a breast cancer awareness fundraiser we were doing. I posted it on our Facebook and Instagram page and it got a lot of interaction, shares/likes and comments. So a couple weeks later when the St. Louis Cardinals made the World Series I was excited so I made a Cardinals logo pie just for fun and posted it. It too got many likes/shares. It really just went from there. When ever I have a little free time on my hands after work I will make one and post it. People seem to like them so as long as they keep getting positive interaction I will probably keep doing them.

I think I have got around 1500 or more page likes since then. Which I think is pretty good considering the size of our town. 

Q: What was your first pizza art? What other images have you made?

My first pizza art, like I said, was the cancer ribbon. Mostly since then I have done sports logos. I have done local high school sports teams, local college teams, pro teams around the area, the teams that made the Super Bowl, a baseball with the Major League Baseball logo, and an Olympics rings logo pizza. I also did an uncle Si pizza for the season finale of Duck Dynasty. I have also done holiday themed pizzas such as a Rudolf Christmas pizza; Arrow threw a heart for Valentines Day. My most recent pizza was the NBC Peacock logo for when the local NBC news came and did a story on us. 

Q: Where did you draw the idea from? 

I’m not really sure where the idea came from. I was just bored one night and decided to make the ribbon pizza. I found that I enjoyed and other seems to as well so I just keep doing it. 

Q: How has it helped your business?

It seems to be bringing in people from surrounding towns who really had never heard of us. I think this is from people who like our page and share it with their friends. People will be in town for a high school ball game or be driving down interstate 70 and say they saw us on Facebook and thought we would check you out. We have even been getting many people from Terre Haute and Charleston much bigger towns which both have Universities (Eastern Illinois, and Indiana State). A lot of them just say they took the 30 minute drive over just to try us since they have seen us on Facebook and heard good things about our food. 

Q: We have found only about 50% of pizzerias have a presence on social media. What advice do you have for pizzerias in terms of social media?

My advice is USE IT! It is basically free and it doesn’t take much time. If you don’t have time to do it have a manager do it. Post pictures of appetizing foods, have special offers and run some contests. 

Q: What you have found to be the most effective posts on Facebook?

The most effective posts are probably the ones where I have a trivia question for free food or a "share this photo and you could win". People will share and like then all their friends will see it on their feeds. 

Q: What is the key to success with social media for any pizzeria?

I would say the key to success is to use it wisely. Don’t post the same thing over and over. Post new things and maybe not do it everyday. I think some people get annoyed by seeing the same things every day. 

Q: Has anyone tried to buy the pizza art or commission you for projects yet?

No, nobody has tried to buy any yet but I can only assume it will not be to long before someone asks since they just ran a story on it on the local news station. I have had many requests of logos and other things to make though. Some of them take over an hour to make and I just don’t know if they are going to turn out so I’m not sure I really want to make any to sell, plus you don’t really want to eat them because there are so many toppings in one area.

To learn more about Greathouse of Pizza visit their website, Instagram or Facebook