Building a Niche B2B Social Network for the Restaurant Trade


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 whom are 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, public relations, content marketing, social media promotions, and online visibility.

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 daily and are 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 sustain a community, he says.

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

This interview is guest-hosted by Paul Gillin and was conducted as research for our book 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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