1. Colonel Tribune—Launched in 2008, Colonel Tribune is the social media avatar of the Chicago Tribune. With more than 845,000 followers, the Colonel has generated more Twitter followers than The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. His unconventional approach and witty updates are what make the Chicago Tribune and 435 Digital so successful.
2. Garrett Popcorn—While the recipe hasn’t been changed in more than 60 years, Garrett Popcorn has changed the way it engages its audience. @GarrettPopcorn has almost 5,000 followers on Twitter from all over the world and even lets Facebook fans order online.
Facebook: Garrett Popcorn Twitter: @GarrettPopcorn
3. Berry Chill—You don’t become Chicago’s most popular frozen yogurt spot without daily customer interaction. The official Berry Chill presence on Twitter is Berry Chill’s mascot “Yogi Jones.” Yogi tweets exclusive discounts on Twitter. Check in on Foursquare and receive 10% off your Berry Chill purchase… or just follow their Facebook/Twitter posts during Bears games to be notified about free Berry Chill whenever Devin Hester scores a touchdown!
Facebook: Berry Chill Twitter: @YogiJones
4. Chicago Blackhawks—Besides bringing home the Stanley Cup, the Chicago Blackhawks won the 2009 “Best Brand Use” Award from the Mashable.com Open Web Awards which reward the very best of social media and the web. While hockey traditionally struggles in popularity, you wouldn’t know it by the nearly 400,000 fans on the Chicago Blackhawks’ Facebook page—that’s more than the Miami Heat, LA Dodgers or New Orleans Saints!
Facebook: Chicago Blackhawks Twitter: @NHLBlackhawks
5. Akira Chicago—Taking fashion to the streets and to the web, Akira has more than 11,000 fans on Facebook and almost 3,000 followers on Twitter. Akira gave its Fall 2010 Fashion Show attendees an inside look at their latest trends by featuring a scannable QR code on attendees’ tickets.
Facebook: AKIRA Chicago Twitter: @Akirachicago
6. Foiled Cupcakes—Foiled Cupcakes is a delivery-only cupcake bakery that uses social media sites to get the word out about their exclusive business. Recently featured as a Groupon Deal of the Day, they have more than 6,000 followers on Twitter.
Facebook: Foiled Cupcakes Twitter: @foiledcupcakes
7. Food Trucks—When lunch time rolls around Chicagoans salivate by their computer screens waiting for Twitter to update them with the location of their favorite food truck. The race was too close to pick just one, but some of our favorites are Gastro Wagon, Meatyballs and Flirty Cupcakes.
Gaztro Wagon Facebook: Gaztro Wagon Twitter: @Wherezthewagon
Meatballs facebook: Meatyballs Mobile Twitter: @fossfoodtrucks
Flirty Cupcakes Facebook: Flirty Cupcakes Twitter: @FlirtyCupcakes
8. The Chicago Theatre—One of the city’s most iconic entertainment venues uses social media to stay in touch with its audience. The Chicago Theatre’s Facebook page lets fans sign up to become an Insider and are encouraged to request events they would like to see perform there.
9. Metropolis Coffee—The small coffee company has taken a page out of Starbucks’ book and started an aggressive social media campaign. Metropolis Coffee features a blog and photos on their Facebook fan page and even enables fans to buy coffee online all with just a few clicks.
Facebook: Metropolis Coffee
10. Threadless—The Chicago based T-shirt company has more than 165,000 fans on Facebook and followers are encouraged to show and enter contests on their static FBML tabs. As impressive as that is, their Twitter presence is what caught our attention. @Threadless has an amazing number of followers at more than 1 million and climbing.—DANNI WYSOKI
Facebook: Threadless Twitter: @Threadless