15 ways venues can grow audience with social media marketing

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By James Stewart


Social media is an inevitable part of running a modern business. Whether your business is active on social media or not, you can be sure that your guests are tweeting, posting, and Instagramming about your bar or restaurant online.

Here are a few best practices and examples to inspire your bar social media strategy and apply them to your own business….

1. Promotional Video: a professional corporate video shows off your best side and gives customers a taster of what the place is like before they actually go visit. Today people are hungry for information but want that fast. So they’d prefer to spend 2-3 minutes watching a polished video than spending 15-20 minutes reading some text

2. Events videos: You undoubtedly hold lots of events such as pub quizzes, band nights, etc. These encourage engagement and show that there is plenty going on at your venue. You should video these (and for bigger events consider using professional videographers). Also, consider live-streaming via Facebook from the likes of an iPhone.

3Update the latest happenings on all your social media outlets. Post the upcoming events well in advance so customers know what will be happening and then plan ahead.

4. 3D Virtual Tour:  A proper 3D tour is a powerful marketing tool to drive new customers to your venue, particularly when it’s linked to Google street view .

Why does it work? 3D scanners are used to capture 3D images and data in real-time to provide accurate models of an area. This gives a feeling that you are already inside the location even if you haven’t yet been there. It makes it more real than just images.

Here’s a tour of Belfast’s famous Harp Bar by our sister company Smart3d NI:

5. Share your menus (both drink and food): In addition to having your menu on your website, make pieces of it available in your social sharing of content and also make it available on a tab on your Facebook Page.

6. Encourage people to check themselves in at the venue: Make sure on Facebook your bar is shown as a “place” so that visitors can check-in.

Why does this work? This then gets seen by their friends when people check-in. Social media is popular because it shares authentic information from real people. A check-in or a great review by a friend carries real credibility.

7. Capitalise on trending topics: When social media is abuzz with a story, use it to your advantage.

Why does this work? Jumping on topics that are already trending on social media is a great way to increase exposure for your posts, especially if you have a clever take on the topic. Marketers call this strategy “news-jacking” and use it as a way to be seen by everyone following the popular trend.

8. Be visual: Images communicate better and spark greater interaction than simple text posts, and video does this best of all. Quality images are the best both for engagement and brand reputation.

9. Offer interesting quality content: on your social media pages you need to connect with your community. Offer new and relevant content continuously about your restaurant or bar, your team and your local area.

Why does this work? Google and Facebook will rank you better for quality content which in turn will then help generate more business.

10. Develop a consistent niche, a style of posting: Tailor your social media posts and updates accordingly. Be careful that niche fits with your brand. Use a modern aesthetic and be consistent in everything you do on social media. Be subtle and perhaps only use lowercase letters on social media.

Why does this work?  Even without professional help, it’s possible to create consistent message and imagery for your business. It allows your to brand to become more than just a place to eat drink. Use social media as an extension of the guest experience.

11. Learn to love feedback: The best way to increase engagement and keep the social pages ticking with fresh content is by asking for feedback. The feedback could be on anything, ranging from the band who played last night to the new bar snacks. Interact with and respond to feedback, even negative feedback.  This can go miles in building trust and loyalty.

12. Respond to online reviews: Get an employee to respond to every single review, the good and bad, with a personal response addressing the reviewers comments.

Why does it work? By addressing negative reviews and showing appreciation for positive ones you create a transparent and friendly persona online. This shows you are not afraid to talk about the flaws in your bar or restaurant and that you will make an attempt to improve on them. Use any negative reviews as an opportunity to learn about the business.  

13. Offer exclusive coupons for social followers: Get customers to share a photo of their drink, cocktail or bar snacks along with a #hashtag then they receive a coupon possibly for a free portion of chicken wings, a free pint etc

Why does it work? It encourages customer social media engagement by offering an exclusive deal to customers who share online. It’s rewarding their social media network for talking about the business. Coupons can also be shared amongst friends and family which will grow the overall number of potential customers.

14. Spotlight your employees: Put your staff at the centre of your brand. One of the things I love most about social media marketing is that it has made businesses and brands personal again. For small businesses, social media gives us the opportunity to have personal, one to one relationships with our customers even if we never meet them. Showing the people behind the business means you aren’t a faceless business and that makes customers more comfortable in who they are dealing with. Video biographies are perfect to showcase your brilliant employees.

Why does it work? Profiling the people behind any business is a great way to humanise the experience for the customer. Posting pictures from “behind the scenes” or sharing funny anecdotes about the staff can make followers feel more connected to the business and the people that make it possible.

Share other people’s content: If someone else can provide better answers to a query, make use of their content. If your social media feed can provide them with relevant information, whether it’s yours or not, they will be attracted to your brand and hence will be encouraged to follow you.

15. Put video at the heart of your marketing strategy: post videos on a regular basis, even once a week to promote new specials, a local sports game, or an upcoming fundraiser. Use video to show what’s life is like “behind the scenes” and build a fun, family-friendly brand.

Why does it work? you don’t need a professional marketing team to make a splash with video on social media. Using budget-friendly services and even mobile phone cameras to shoot video can be very effective.

While starting and maintaining a vibrant social media network can seem like a daunting task, the bottom line is that it’s about people. Social platforms provide a direct line of communication with existing and potential customers. Use these examples of social media for restaurants as inspiration to kick your business’s social media marketing into shape.