Owner of Yuca's Restaurants, Dora Herrera (she/her), and I discuss using social media as a local business. From running ads to knowing if your social strategy is working, Dora picked my brain in an episode recorded when the podcast was going to be called "social Qs."
Dora Herrera is a part of a family-run establishment that has been bringing hungry diners the True Flavor of México since 1976. YUCA’S RESTAURANTS customers span 3 generations of satisfied and loyal addicts to the small-batch, quality-driven menu served out of the 8’x10’ converted shoeshine stand known fondly as, The Hut (now with a location in Pasadena). YUCA’S is proud to be the first (and only) taco stand to receive the coveted James Beard Award in the America’s Classics category, as well as being featured on Oprah as “The Best Burrito Evah.”
When not working, Dora enjoys giving back to her community by serving on the Public Media Group’s Latino Community Council, as an Ambassador with the L.A. Latino and L.A. Area Chambers, and participating in food festivals to raise funds for Altamed Health Services, and the Pasadena Union Station Homeless Services.
Check out Yuca's website.
Follow Dora on Instagram @YucasLA.
Find Yuca's restaurants on Facebook.
I hang out on Instagram.
- (Hawke) Hello, and welcome to social media for humans. The podcast that empowers you to do social differently your host, Alexis Bushnell and her guests discuss their experience of social media as business owners, users, and ultimately humans with insights and advice to help you find an effective and ethical strategy that works for you. Grab yourself a drink and join the conversation. - Hello, I'm here with the lovely Dora. Do you want to introduce yourself? Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do. - Sure. My name is Dora Herrera, I'm in Los Angeles. We run a small, quick service, family restaurant and this April 1st we're going to be 45 years in the business. - Wow. That's a long time - It is and we've accumulated lovely accolades over the years sober. It's a good passion project. - Yeah. Good. So you've had to get into social media then, as social media has become more of a thing? - Right. - Sort of shifts your marketing to embrace that, I suppose. - Yeah. We adopted it early because I'm a very social person and I said, Ooh chance to talk to hundreds if not thousands of people, how cool is that? And it's gotten harder over the years. And that's kinda my question today is, how do we run a business and stay on top of all the changing algorithms so that we can continue having the conversation? - Yeah. I have to say that happened like a lot of shifts recently, especially. And I think it's interesting at the moment that seems to be this sort of this push and pull between users who really want to use it to socialise. They are looking much more now for the social aspect and the human aspect of social media versus the sort of the platforms themselves, which are trying to shift to really heavy advertising and stuff. So there is this weird sort of almost a war going on between how people want to use social media and how the platforms want people to use social media which has definitely caused like a lot of confusion and difficulty for people. Yeah. So how are you using it at the moment? - Well, we've got Instagram and Facebook profiles that I actually hired someone finally to manage for me. And then I run our Twitter account because I keep it more personal rather than, eat a taco, eat a taco, how about a burrito? It's like just politics, be a good person, good stories. I have a hashtag called taco worthy. So whenever I read something that I feel is just positive for the world, we tweet it with taco worthy hashtag. - That's cool. That's a nice way to work it in. - Yeah. Because it gets them thinking about tacos. they all don't think of a pink elephant. - (laughs) Yeah. Yeah. That is nice. How have you felt, so you're using Twitter from a more sort of personal perspective but with also that sort of underlying branding if you like. - Right. - Yeah. So then Instagram and Facebook are they most your main marketing tools if you like? - Yeah. Yeah. We create stories and highlight the food, like Valentines was, we'll be the cheeseburger to your French fries. Cause we do sell burgers also. So like just kind of out of the box rather than happy Valentine's day come eat a taco like that. - Yeah. Which is the best way to do it? It's difficult to be original now though isn't it? Like its difficult to everybody's trying to be outside of the box. So yeah. It is difficult. - Yeah. And I hear from professionals in the social media management field that the people I hired are killing it. And yet I don't see the return, like how do I know when people are actually listening or ...followers going up is it really having an effect? - Yeah. That's one of the difficult things to measure really is essentially return on investment with social media because it tends to be more of a brand building place and depending on how you work it, I mean, are you allowing orders like through a website, or is it. - yeah - Because if you've got a website it's a little bit easier to track because you can sort of follow back like, Oh, well these people all came from social media so that's paying off. But if you're doing it from sort of an in-person perspective it can be more difficult, but it's also considering because as your followers grow, you are then theoretically then also reaching more people because hopefully what's happening is your followers grow. So your engagement on each post also grows. And then that tells various platforms that other people should be shown more of this thing because it's really good. And people like it. So you sort of gradually building outwards but social media, certainly in my experience tends to be a slow burn. It's very rare that, like you get something go viral and suddenly like, boom, you are a social media famous and you can't. You haven't got enough staff to fulfil orders and stuff. So it's kind of a long game, I guess, social media. It's like getting your name out there and getting your brand out there and when people think like "ooh, I fancy a taco," it's you that they come to that's who springs to mind because they've seen your content they've engaged with your content. And so you're trying to build that relationship between whatever you are selling or offering. And when people think that they want something that it's you. So if you've not seen any sort of direct sales yet then, is that what you're saying? - I haven't seen a correlation in, okay. So it's like we have thousands of followers, but only hundreds of comments or likes. And is there a way to find out if affecting hundreds is going to bring in the revenue other than giveaways. - I'm personally, I'm not a big fan of giveaways on social media, because I think it tends to attract people who just want free things rather than people who want what you are specifically offering. So I'm generally not a big fan of giveaways and stuff like that. It's difficult to gauge, obviously without seeing your stats specifically, it's difficult to gauge. Because even if you've got thousands of followers, sort of the balance of how many likes and comments and shares and things you're getting depends more on reach than followers. So when I work out engagement, right it's about reach versus engagement rather than followers. So that's how many people have actually seen that post. And then how many people have engaged on it. That's how I work it out because that is a much more effective way. Because if, even if you've got several thousand followers if only 10 saw the post and nine people commented, then that's still great engagement. - Okay. That's a good way of looking at it. - Yeah. - I hadn't considered that. - It is important stats wise to consider reach compared to comments and engagement stats rather than following numbers. Another thing is like from an engagement standpoint, is people can see your content without actually following you. So on Instagram, for example, you can follow hashtags. People can search for keywords now as well. So they don't have to be following you to see any specific post of yours. You could show up in a hashtag feed that they're following or because they're searching for a location, for your location or something like that. Which is another reason that basing it on your own follower numbers is not great because you might be reaching more people than who are following you. So for me, when I'm looking at like, is this content working? I'm looking at like what is the engagement rate as a percentage of how many people have seen it? And then it's like, right, what is the trend? Is some stuff consistently doing quite well and other stuff is consistently doing not great. And is there any sort of trend between things? What, what is in the captions of the things that are doing well versus aren't doing well? What are the images like on each of them? What type of posts are they? Are they single photos? Are they videos or a carousel style posts? Are they GIFs or something on Facebook and working out what is popular with your specific audience? Because it is about the long game but you can only sort of achieve that long game if you're constantly assessing, right. What is actually working and what is not and then you drop what's not and you keep going with the stuff that is working. And the other thing is what's working will change as your audience grows and changes and other things happen in the world. - Yeah, yeah, yeah. (Alexis laughs) - So it is, Oh, do you keep an eye on those stats? - I did. But now that I hired someone, I don't. I mostly focus on the Twitter account. - Okay. - But we do have like meetings set up that say this is what did well we don't actually look at what didn't do well, so that that might be a thing to add in our reviews sessions. - Yeah. - And we do periodically by boosters or whatever like we spend ad money in certain things. And then we can see that, the ad money doubles or triples it. So that's money well spent but that's only for like special events. - Yeah. That's fair. I think that is a good way actually, especially like smaller businesses to do ads, because like I do not recommend just generally speaking, I don't recommend boosting posts. It is much better if you're going to run ads on social media to actually use the advertising tools and design an ad, even if that's based on something that's performed well. But at the same time, I do realise that for a lot of small businesses, it is A) Facebook's ad studio is like Ooh, it's not straightforward. It's not the easiest thing to just be like, Oh I'll just hop up and create an ad, you know? And also you haven't got the time, you haven't got the expertise. So it is easier in a lot of cases to just boost a post every now and again. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But from a professional standpoint I do not recommend boosting posts generally. - I'll have to talk to my staff about doing ads. If they know how, I mean, they're a social media company, so they should know. - Yeah. The benefit of doing ads properly if you will. The thing with boosting a post essentially just says, show this to as many people as possible. It's really indiscriminate. It's kind of like a poster or something or a billboard. Like it's just anybody at all. Whereas with purpose-built ads, you can select the audience, so you can look at what's already doing well on your socials and you can be like, right, okay. This generally performs well with the kind of people who we see in our restaurant. And then you can create that as an ad and then you can target it at people who look like, in the sense of behave like on social media, people who come to your restaurant and people who've already visited or people who already follow you. So you are targeting at people who are much more likely to actually be interested in what you're doing, because they are similar in behaviour to people who have already come and eaten at your restaurant or who already follow you or who engage with you or whatever. So it's a much more effective way to spend money because it is targeted like that rather than just show it to anybody at all and sort of cross your fingers type thing. But yeah, so ads, if you are gonna run ads I do recommend doing them through Facebook ads whatever they're calling it now, ad studio, ad manager who knows what it's called now, they keep changing the name. Yeah. Rather than boosting posts. - Okay. So it's interesting too because there's a lot of backlash about Facebook like now we're talking about Facebook. So it's like, well, do I want to advertise on Facebook if everyone's leaving or not everyone, but a lot of people are, I'm closing my account whether they do or not. - I think with Facebook I still a hundred percent think it is worth being on Facebook as a business. I am not a fan of Facebook. (all laughs) And if I didn't have to use it for work then I probably wouldn't be on Facebook. But as much as there is a backlash against it most people who use social media are on Facebook still even with people leaving, most people are on Facebook. In the digital in 2021 report that just came out, it showed that all of people who are on any basically any other social platform I think it was 99% of them are also on Facebook. - Wow. Okay. - As much as there is a lot of talk about people leaving and I do think some people are, there are still a huge amount of people on Facebook and it is still the biggest social media platform. So it is still worth it for small businesses unless you want to make a moral or ethical choice about not using it, but from purely from a numbers and a business standpoint, it is still huge basically. And the other thing is that they of course, own Instagram. So even if, and I noticed actually that a lot of people who are leaving Facebook or still using Instagram which is weird to me, but okay. - Yeah. - So yeah, I am team Facebook from a business point of view but not Facebook from a moral point of view. - Yeah, no, that's good. I actually have a personal and a business account and I kind of like cross promote, like have you seen our posts? And I don't put it that way, I put it in a more cool kind of way. But, but so yeah, it does work and I guess news of their demise is highly exaggerated. So it's good to know. I didn't know the numbers on the report. So that's good that you have that information to share with us. - I was really surprised actually, when I saw it because I thought it was going to be high, but I didn't realise that basically everybody who uses any other social network is also on Facebook. Especially when it came to places like WhatsApp because there seems to be most of the pushback seems to come on Twitter. So I had assumed that it would be people who are on Twitter who will leaving Facebook, but certainly not in the numbers that you might expect from the tweets and the news coverage. - That's good to know. I'm not talking to a blank wall then. - No, definitely not. But with that said, Facebook pages at the moment are a really tough sell that, it is hard for small businesses to get traction on Facebook pages at the minute without ads basically. Which is really why groups have become such a big thing because there is still that organic reach and there is still that opportunity to actually that people want to actually see your posts. So groups have become a really big thing, which is nice but it's kind of, because of that its groups bring that kind of suffering in my personal opinion. Yeah. Because people are trying to use them as a page now, a lot of groups are purely self promotional, Just in an effort to avoid the issues with Facebook pages, which is a shame. - So question then, is it best to create your own group or to just go and join a bunch of other groups that are talking about the topics that you want to discuss? - It really depends. And the big question I think people need to ask generally is, what are you going to do with your Facebook group? Because if you haven't got a goal for it or an aim for it, or you're just creating it like as a sales tool, it will not be as successful as if you create it with an actual plan. So I mean, take my Facebook group I have a free Facebook group, as you know. - I do, its lovely. - I've got my free Facebook group. The core idea of it is to support small businesses in using social media. And part of that it naturally lends itself to, hey by the way I offer social media services for small businesses. But a lot of it even about that, a lot of it is support and advice and free challenges and stuff like that. That just help people just for the sake of helping people. So the core of the group isn't I want to sell stuff to people, I want to get around the Facebook algorithm. The core is I want to build a community of small businesses who all want to support each other and who are all like, argh! Social media! What? Help! So that we can all like figure something out and I can swoop in and be like, actually here's a thing that might help with that. Whereas if you don't have that sort of thing at the centre that isn't just I want to sell to you, then it's not worth it. In my opinion, it is much better to engage in other people's groups because either you can give and get a lot of value in other people's groups which is actually something that I spoke to Emma about on the very first episode of this. But so yeah, it depends what you plan to do with it. If you have a plan for a Facebook group, run with it, great. If you're going to be sharing taco recipes, or it's going to be some kind of a foodie review group or something like that. But if it's just going to be essentially sort of what you would post on your page, but in a Facebook group. - Oh, okay. I see the distinction. - Yeah. that's not to say that some of those groups do really well, but generally speaking I think it's not worth it. It's not worth your time especially when you're a small business owner and it's not great for the people who are joining wanting something a little bit more and then they're just sales basically. - Yeah. And then they won't stay. - Exactly. - Short limits group. - Yeah. - Okay. Well that's a lot of great information today. Thank you. It's mind blowing. - There is a lot to think about. - I think it's all in the nuance of what you're doing, like anyone can start a group, but like you pointed out there's things that work things that don't and people quickly realise when you're not being real, so. - Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's the thing with social media. A lot of people, they have this sort of overarching view of what it is and how it works. And the more you sort of read into it and learn about things and try things. And then you learn that there are so many layers to different things and why certain things work here and they don't work there. And what sort of tweaks you need to make. I always say that social media isn't that complicated because it's not, but it also is. There's this weird sort of dichotomy where it's like there are all these little nuances but ultimately at its cool people people just want to connect with people on some level. They want to be seen by people. They want to be understood. So as long as you've got, if you're coming at social media from a social perspective, you clearly are because you just want to speak to people. Then that's really what matters because that core thing then drives everything else. - I'm sitting here basking in it like, my God, it's so good. (both laughs) - You are just like, the cogs are whirring it's all sinking in - No, it's good. And then I feel like, cause sometimes you talk to your head, inside your head and the thoughts just kind of bounce off the wall and you're just talking to yourself. So to hear others' perspective and basically the understand that yes, I'm doing something right. Is encouraging. Cause then you're like, Ooh if I can do one or two things, right. You know, imagine if I focused a little more and then I could do six or seven things right. - Yeah. And I think the other thing is as well to remember like be led by your audience, don't sort of, it's so easy because there's so much advice out there. That's like this, you need to post that, you need to post this amount of times a week or whatever. And it's really easy to just think that those are inherently correct. But actually what is correct is what is correct for your audience. So it is a case of testing things and seeing basically what they say to you by whether they're liking things, whether they're commenting, whether that's seeing stuff whether they're following you or following you. And also if you can build a relationship with your audience so that you can ask questions, like are you enjoying this kind of content? And you can maybe slide into their DMS and say, hey, well you engage on a lot of our content and we really appreciate that. What do you think about new posts? Do you know like this style of post? That then gives you even more feedback. - Yeah. It's easier now because they have that what they call the, the fan top fan or something. Yeah. So I hadn't even considered talking to my top fans and saying, what do you like? What do you want to see more of? - Mm yeah. - What else do you know about us? - Yeah. It's one of the things everybody forgets because I think you get caught up in like, well we need content to cover this holiday and this promo we're doing, and we're doing this and we need to promote this and this is happening. And what have you, and you get so caught up in that sort of content creation flow that you can become very detached from the sort of people who are then seeing that content. But yeah, you really need to centre your audience in in everything and it is super easy now. And so with social media, especially it is so easy to be like, hey, do you like this stuff? What do you actually want from us? You can run a poll on Instagram stories not on a Facebook page anymore, but in a Facebook group you can. (both laughs) But yeah, talk to your audience and find out what they want. - Yeah. Like I was happy to see our Valentine promo be about food, like be the cheeseburger to your French fries rather than just a bunch of hearts and happy Valentines, come on in and have a burrito or taco or whatever. So that was like, Oh, okay. I liked it. I mean, I opened the page and I saw it and I'm like, Oh, that's cute. So I'm hoping everybody else said the same thing, but yeah. I think definitely knowing what they want to hear and figuring it out, it's key. - Yeah. And it comes down to a combination of checking your stats and seeing what is doing well and what isn't. And also speaking to people, just like, Hey, what do you think about this stuff? Yeah. - Trying to make it like when the people come into business, we have conversations. Sometimes they're serious, sometimes they're fun. So I try to recreate that feeling of, hey, Alexis good to see you, and then like a joke or talk about stuff, bad stuff going on and saying it'll get better. You know? So definitely the timing of what you say was cute. - Mm yeah, yeah, yeah. It's good. And if you've got people coming in, it would be sensible to mention have you got like say post that say, followers on social media or whatever like that, or even QR codes? - Big for menus right now. There's no menus at the table. There's just a QR code that you can. - Wow. - Because you don't want people touching the same menu over and over again. - Yeah. Yeah. Cause you can have a QR code that goes directly to your Facebook page or your Instagram or your Twitter so that people can connect with you that way as well. If you're in the restaurant as well, it would be a nice idea if you not already to have like a QR code on the table that's like, share a photo of your food with a hashtag. - Yeah. We've tried that and got zero response. So I was like, I was amazed. Cause I thought, especially on Instagram people love to, I like their food and people didn't and I was like, Oh, okay, well try something else. - That's interesting but that tells you something about your audience. - Yeah. Yeah - Maybe they're not as bothered about posting themselves on social media, then more consumers. - Yeah. So yeah. Good. A lot of new things to to go forth with, try it out. - You are wishing you'd brought a notebook now. - No I'm gonna look at your show when you post it. I'm not taking notes because I when you are take notes you're not listening, you're not focusing on what's going on. - Yeah. That's true. That is true. - I love that record button. I can just focus on the conversation and then go back and see what I actually said and go, Ooh. - That's really good. Well, how has this been helpful then? Have I answered your questions? - Yes and yes. You answered the question definitely. And helpful in the sense that there's extra to what I know now. And also you gave me information on reports that you've read so that I know that I'm not thinking something because I want to, but it's like knowledge is bold. - Yeah. Yeah. - Like knowing 99% of Facebook is still there. It's like, Oh, okay. Well then I better not believe the loud Twitters that are saying everybody's getting off and you should too. - Yeah. Yeah. I will drop a link to that report in the description of this as well. - Okay. Very cool. - So you can have a look at all 299 pages of it. - Oh goodness. Good thing I love to read. - It all starts like, I love it. I really love it. I'm such a nerd. - Yeah. Sometimes I think, I could do social media as a second job but I hold myself back because who wants to hold two jobs? There's life out there. - Yeah. Well, do you want to tell us what where can people find you on social media? - Oh sure. We are at Instagram and Twitter as Yucas LA which is Y-U-C-A-S-L-A. and on Facebook we're Yuca's restaurants and we do have a Pinterest page but I need to get some more fresh photos out there. So maybe that'll be my impetus to work on that one. But mostly the Instagram and Facebook are our go-to for the business. Cause you know the photos and yeah. - Yeah. That's great. - And of course yucasla.com is our website. With the www's in the front. - Very good. Very good. I will drop all of these links obviously. - And the best thing of course is to fly in from France and come and have a taco. You want to know how good we are. We're the first taco stand to receive a James Beard award in the United States. - Wow. - And that is the highest culinary honour you can get in. - I will put it on my US road trip list. - All right. We're a bucket list person. Woop woop! - My post COVID bucket list yeah. - Well there you go. Ooh wonderful. - Its been lovely to chat to you. - Likewise, likewise. - And have a lovely rest of your day over there. - Yeah, just starting out about to go get my first cup of coffee, but okay, lovely. Thank you. Thank you Alexis group people, love you all. - (Hawke) If you want more regular reminders to find your own way to use social media, follow Alexis on your social platform of choice, all the links will be in the show notes. Until next, time be a human.