Building a Niche B2B Social Network for the Restaurant Trade

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FohBoh is a B2B niche social network for restaurant owners and their suppliers.

Launched in late 2007 by veteran restaurateur and entrepreneur Michael Atkinson, it has built a base of 14,000 members, most of them restaurant owners.

FohBoh’s core purpose is to help restaurant owners make more money during an economic period that has been dismal for their industry. That entails a core focus on operational excellence, but also on the art of social media promotion and online visibility.

In fact, FohBoh’s novel monetization strategy is to sell conversation monitoring and consulting services, with advertising making up only a minority of the revenue.

It’s been a struggle in this business environment, but FohBoh is growing and appears to have running room.

Some people say the best time to start a company is in the middle of an economic downturn, Atkinson says.

We are a survivor. We grow our revenues every day and we’re way past the point of validating our model.

Atkinson has learned a lot about business-to-business social communities from the experience. Context and relevance sustains a community, he says.

You have to understand the community before you figure out how to monetize. If you don’t have domain expertise, the membership will find out immediately.

This interview is guest hosted by Paul Gillin of Paul Giilin Communications and was conducted as research for “Social Marketing to the Business Customer,” the most comprehensive collection of best practices for B2B marketers ever assembled.

Photo by Hemant Latawa on Unsplash

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