Regular visitors of this blog probably remember that a few weeks ago we organized a social marketing meetup. One of the people, willing to help out and introduced to me by young Thomas Van Orshaegen, was Alain Indria, owner of a “natural food” shop, Lombardia, in Antwerp that got international headlines when one day a journalist from the Wall Street Journal put his restaurant on the top five places to visit in Antwerp, Belgium. Alain was at that time at the Shanghai World Expo, passionately demonstrating his new creation, the GingerLove tea. Among his customers, Alain has a lot of famous people and he took care of the catering when stars such as Moby and others came to Belgium. His passion and enthusiasm struck me. But so did the way he used social media. Strategy? No, sir. Alain’s social media approach and his whole businesses thrive on three things: passion, an incredible sales drive and an excellent interaction with his community. But that’s not all. The amazing stuff still has to come! I asked some people I knew from social media if they couldn’t help me do some interviews etc. on the spot since the organization was hell. One of them was Marta Majewska who is an avid blogger but as it turned out also a real fan of Lombardia and GingerLove. What happened next? Enthusiasm + enthusiasm became passion times five. Today Marta posted about it. What follows next is her story. Brand fan meets brand “owner” I was invited to participate in the Social Media Day Meetup in Antwerpen. I was excited to go and even more excited when I saw that a lot of my long-time Twitter buddies were planning on attending too (so lovely meeting you all IRL!)! When I entered the room, the first thing that caught my eye were the GingerLove cups. Yeah, you might think I’m weird (not going to deny it) but I have a legitimate reason for that! And that is, when I go to my absolute favorite vegetarian lunch place in Antwerp, Lombardia, I always get their ginger tea or soy latte and it’s served in the very same cup I spotted at the #smday meetup. I had no idea what they were doing there but I enthusiastically stated telling the guy standing next to me how I know these cups and how my favorite place serves that amazing ginger tea in them. He was smiling and nodding and after I was finished with my sudden outburst of love for the place and their most amazing organic food, he thanked me for all the compliments. Yes, it turned out that I was talking to the owner of Lombardia (and one of the nicest people I’ve met!) – Alain Indria. Social media: a DIY approach upon demand of the community (and with help from…mom) I was of course curious what he was doing at the #smday but as I quickly found out, Alain is a social media enthusiast like no other (he was almost as enthusiastic about social media as I was about his food!). But he is not the only person passionate about social media in his family, Alain runs all the social media activities for both Lombardia and Gingerlove together with his mom! Yes, now almost 70 and also the originator of Lombardia, Alain’s mom helps him manage the social media community! So why did Alain start using social media and how did he become so social media savvy? All thanks to his customers! It was the Lombardia loyal clients who got angry at Alain for not being on Facebook because they really wanted to connect with him and the restaurant online. So he set up a Facebook account and that was when the social media world opened to him (what a great example of listing to the customers!). Right now, next to the Lombardia Facebook account, Alains runs the Gingerlove Facebook page, @LombardiaMenu and @gingerlovedrink on Twitter, YouTube channel and Flickr. He says that the best thing about being on social media is the appreciation from the customers, especially the Belgian ones, who as Alain says, are quite shy when it comes to giving compliments when they are in the restaurant. On social networks though, they show great appreciation and flood Alain with compliments – that’s something he has never experienced before! By the way: as Marta describes in her post, that you can find below, Alain, is – probably without knowing it – a good cross-channel marketer as well, just look at how he integrated social media and other digital channels on the GingerLove box… Read Marta’s full post here. Takeaways? Passion. That’s all. But it’s a lot… And isn’t it marvelous? You can follow Martha on Twitter, on her blog and, well, on many other places. You can follow Lombardia and GingerLove, well, also on many places.