Social Media No Nos (and Some Yes Yes Too)

Image Source: Stanford's Restaurant via Facebook

Joe Gabriel of Fishbowl knows that a large number of bar owners didn’t get into the industry so they could become social media experts. However, in this day and age Joe knows that owners and operators need to embrace social media if they want to be successful. To help owners approach social media correctly and effectively, he has come up with a recipe book for success.

Claim and Manage Your Online Presence

Chapter one of Joe’s recipe book is all about claiming and managing your online presence. The first step is searching for your business and checking the results. If you find that information is incorrect in one place online, it’s likely wrong everywhere else. Since your online presence is the first impression you make on most guests these days, it must be polished. Own your presence, correct misinformation and get to polishing your profiles. Use professional photography and create awareness of who you are. Link all of your social media profiles together, put out an email address, promote your menu, events calendar, e-club enrollment and also Like-gated promotions. You must also dedicate yourself to having a daily message for your guests. So, how do you jump into all of this? First, claim online sites like Google, Foursquare, Yelp and Bing. Second, set up email accounts and social media pages. Next, start with an inventory of current activities to promote, asking yourself what you’re good at now and what makes your brand tick. Build an “ideas” file of new things to try, which you can accomplish through following 10 businesses you’re interested in over at least 3 social media platforms, following them for 30 days and finding marketing tactics you can use. Plan on 4 to 5 hours per week to get started on all of this and 2 to 3 hours per week to maintain it all. If you can’t find the time to do all of this, hire someone – it’s worth it.

“Once you’ve built your presence online you can’t forget it… You’ve gotta check on them daily,” advises Joe.

Build Your Audience Base

Next comes building your audience base. We’ll look at the two current powerhouses of social media for accomplishing this goal, Facebook and Twitter. Starting with Facebook, make it easy to find your page; create a simple link. Tie special incentives to Facebook joins, write engaging and creative posts and add e-club join to your Facebook Timeline. Your 90-day goal is to get 500 new fans, meaning 2,000 new fans per year. For Twitter, after you’ve created a simple profile link, identify local notables, follow them and re-tweet their posts. Create offers exclusive to your Twitter account and use hashtags often. Send out 5 to 10 tweets per day in order to maintain a high ranking. Your goal in terms of your Twitter list size is to achieve 50% the size of your Facebook fan count. Because Twitter is used differently than Facebook, have more conversations on this platform. Users are on Twitter more often so encourage your followers to re-tweet your posts.

Engage Your Guests

You must engage your guests and you must do it properly. Definitely send your guests emails but limit them to 18 to 24 per year, or no more than 1 or 2 per month. Your goal with email is to build loyalty so send emails about important events. When using Facebook, aim for 5 to 10 posts per week and remember the 80/20 Rule: you want to achieve 80% content and conversation and just 20% promotion. The 80/20 Rule also applies to Twitter, with your goal being 5 to tweets per day. Across all social media platforms, content is key. Promote events and guest experiences, use lots of photographs, promote your charity and community events and use humor. Have fun with newsworthy events but keep your political and religious views to yourself.

Listen and Respond to Your Guests

Engaging means listening and realizing that customers are talking about you. The proliferation of social media means that your business has been discussed somewhere online. Also, keep in mind that consumers look at both online reviews and interactions when making the decision to visit a business for the first time. In fact, 33% of consumers polled have written an online review about a product, bar, restaurant or nightclub and 42% of consumers have written a post about a brand on social media. Positive interactions online will have a positive effect on your business.

Keep Score

None of the above advice means anything if you don’t have more than just anecdotal evidence that it’s working for your bar. You must track email open rates, click-throughs and redemptions. Social media likes, post views and reposts must be checked. Website traffic, impact from digital promotions and referral sites must also be analyzed. A good way to check your promotion redemptions is to integrate them with your POS or mobile payment provider. Of course, anecdotal evidence isn’t all bad: butts in seats will still give you an idea as to whether or not your social media events are working. For real result tracking, however, the following resources are available: Google Analytics, Facebook Insight, Hootsuite and other digital dashboards, YouTube Insights, email reporting, POS integrations, mobile payment solutions and RSMI (Restaurant Social Media Index).

The Yes Yes

  • Cross promote your social media pages.
  • Create excitement about your brand.
  • Include staff in the fun.
  • Give credit when using other people’s photos.
  • Turn discounts into gifts; promote instead of discount.
  • Respond publicly on social media.
  • Keep your tone light; think about what you’re going to say before you say it
  • Balance your response frequency; don’t respond only to the good reviews or only to the bad reviews.
  • Encourage feedback by letting your guests have input about new items.

The No No

  • Don’t leave conversations unanswered.
  • Don’t just coupon.
  • Don’t get lost in the crowd.
  • Don’t reward or incentivize your guests for positive reviews.
  • Don’t be combative.
  • Don’t just join a social media site because you think everyone is joining it; focus on relevant sites and ask guests where they’d like to hear from you.
  • Don’t think that there is just one social media site that rules them all.
  • Don’t discuss your political or religious views.

Finally, if you’re asking yourself when to start your marketing program for your new business, the answer is at least 90 to 120 days before open.

You can gain more insight from social media experts by attending the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show. Registration will open in October!


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