Big Gay Ice Cream Sprinkles Facebook Place Tips On Its Social Media Strategy

The ice cream chain’s use of the social network’s beacon system is one reason the company doesn’t feel the need for traditional advertising.

Big Gay Ice Cream’s East Village location isn’t physically the largest ice cream parlor in New York City. But what it lacks in acreage, it makes up for in the strong sense of community between the proprietors and their customers. One of the best ways the store keeps that physical relationship strong is through its online presence. Take a look at the comment sections of any of the posts on BGIC’s Facebook page to see the lively interactions that take place there.

To better facilitate those interactions, BGIC has made use of Facebook’s “Place Tips” beacon initiative. Many customers have a strong relationship with BGIC and Place Tips provides them with an easier way to connect to the store and its larger community — and a major reason why you’re not likely to see any banner ads or TV commercials from the brand any time soon.

Here’s a Tip

As GeoMarketing has previously covered, Facebook’s Place Tips — an opt-in, location-based feature available through the social network’s iPhone app — is in being tested at locations around New York City, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dominique Ansel Bakery, Strand Book Store, Brooklyn Bowl, Pianos, as well as tourist spots The Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park. When users walk into a business using the beacon technology, they can see posts and photos shared by their Facebook friends who have visited before.

When customers are inside the physical store, and have Bluetooth activated on their iPhones, a special message will display at the top of their Facebook news feed: “See posts and photos from your friends at Big Gay Ice Cream!”IMG_1259

When the message is tapped, customers are taken to a unique screen with the ability to like BGIC’s page or check in at the location. Scrolling down presents several more interactive options. Customers can see the latest posts from the ice cream shop’s page, upcoming events, and even popular critics’ reviews of the location (Big Gay Ice Cream currently displays a glowing review from New York Magazine).

Customers are also presented with the option of rating the service at the location using three options: “Great,” “Just Okay,” and “Bad.” This is a great way of soliciting direct interaction with customers.

The last page is a gallery of photos posted by both BGIC and any friends or other Facebook users who have taken photos and posted them to the store’s page.

Forging a Connection

One thing that’s clear is that Place Tips greatly ease of which customers can now interact with the store’s Facebook page. The amount of customers who will seek out a brand’s Facebook page by going into the search window and actively looking up the store is significantly less than the those that would click on a page that was presented to them without any effort on their part. By bringing the option for interaction directly to them rather than expecting them to seek it out, Place Tips garners interaction from customers who would otherwise not bother to communicate at all.

That interaction has been the lifeblood of the company so far, relying almost entirely on word-of-mouth and goodwill to grow their business from a single truck to three locations in two states. BGIC’s Douglas Quint calls the loyal customers the store built up early on “advocate[s] for us and our brand” in an interview with Paste Magazine. “They really became our marketing machine and because of them, we’ve never spent a dime on marketing or advertising.”

About The Author
Daniel Parisi Daniel Parisi @daniel_parisi_

Daniel Parisi is a New York City-based writer and recent graduate of the University of Maryland. Daniel specializes in coverage of mobile payments, loyalty programs, and the Internet of Things.