Tapping the Social Network

Make Social Media Work For Your Business

Social networking is now the cost of entry for anyone interested in growing a prosperous business, but you don’t need to be a master of the Internet to get ahead of your competition. By promoting your bar or club on one mode of social media such as Facebook or Twitter, or even investing in QR codes, you’ll likely see an improvement in your sales, as well as new customers lined up to check out what you have to offer. How do you get started? And where do you go from there? Here are a few bars and clubs that figured out how to make social media an ongoing and successful marketing tool for them.

Ping Pong Dim Sum, Washington, D.C.

Ping Pong Dim Sum is a newcomer to the burgeoning D.C. scene, and in order to stay relevant Sales/Marketing Manager Myca Ferrer knows he has to differentiate his place from the competition, thus ensuring consumer confidence and loyalty. “Everything has to have a measurable quantifiable return on our investment,” he explains.

He does this by staying on top of trends, while enlisting the help of his marketing team including Melissa Smith, marketing sales intern. She says the social media strategy for Ping Pong is to create an educational journey and to maintain an Internet rapport with guests, who often Tweet and update about their Ping Pong experience from the restaurant.

Ping Pong Dim Sum

Ping Pong Dim Sum (above) in Washington, D.C., stays on trend by having a Facebook cocktail contest for its fans.

And yet, because there are Ping Pongs all over the world, maintaining this consistency can be difficult. “It’s hard to keep a brand consistent when it’s translated into three different languages,” Ferrer jokes. However, Ping Pong distributes a corporate document that specifies tone of voice, suggests key words and lists different scenarios so management knows how to respond.

Now that Ping Pong is successful, Smith, Ferrer and the Ping Pong team aren’t so reined in by the corporate office, especially since they know how to create valuable dialogue. Smith does this by posting “Did you know?” updates on Facebook. These insights about different ingredients or specialty cocktails tend to intrigue followers more so than an onslaught of updates about $3 drink specials. “It adds an air of mystery and makes patrons research it [the special], giving them a different experience from any other dim sum restaurant they’ve been to,” Smith says. By linking these updates to the Ping Pong Twitter feed, Smith streamlines the content, reaching not only a new customer base on Twitter, but the loyal fan base on Facebook, as well. “With our social media, internally, we get excited when people Tweet or write on our wall,” she adds.

This is part of Ping Pong’s overall social networking strategy. For example, Ferrer is inviting customers to join Ping Pong’s Facebook cocktail contest. Aspiring bartenders can submit recipes via Facebook, and the Ping Pong team will pick the best one. The winner’s cocktail will be featured on the menu for a month, served in a flight of rotating drinks.

With an established reputation on Twitter and Facebook, a growing presence on Foursquare, and early experimentation with QR codes, Ping Pong is creating an unforgettable experience that drives sales.

Pure Nightclub, “Pure University,” Buffalo, N.Y.

Pure Nightclub, a 12,000-square-foot club in Buffalo, N.Y., doesn’t have a problem attracting co-eds, especially to its Pure University college night every Thursday. However, Kevin Evanetski, consultant/strategist for Social Yeah, a social media agency in Buffalo that helps Pure run its college night, says things weren’t always so easy. With bars being open until 4 a.m., Pure was having trouble getting people to the club before midnight.
“To generate more revenue, we wanted to get them in earlier,” he explains. “So we use Facebook and Facebook Events in a way that means something.”

Pure Nightclub

Pure Nightclub in Buffalo, N.Y., relies on its popular Facebook fan page to get co-eds to the bar on Thursday nights for Pure University.

Pure sends out invitations through Facebook Events, and the first 1,000 fans that confirm are then placed on the guest list for the evening, often receiving a discount on door covers. Because this event is so well known, Evanetski and owner Mike Sherk, have to do very little marketing.
“Basically, we don’t Facebook anyone. We put something on our [Facebook] wall, and people respond to it. Within 12 to 24 hours our guest list is full, and we close it,” Evanetski says.

Pure NightclubIt wasn’t always this way, though. “Groups were dying, and we were one of the first to switch to a fan page,” he explains, adding that the move grew their page from 5,600 group members to more than 12,000 fans. To get the event on the radar of Buffalo college students, Evanetski and Sherk sent out Facebook Event invitations for about four to six months, positioning it as an exclusive event. What’s more, Pure University is the only promotion where Sherk and Evanetski send out Facebook Event invitations, a strategy to prevent them from watering down the promotion or spamming fans with constant invites.

Post-event exposure is also crucial, so Pure hires a professional photographer to shoot pictures to post on Facebook. Guests then tag themselves, and subsequently market Pure University on the Internet for free.

“After that, we would use pictures as advertisements,” says Evanetski. “People are going to Facebook to see pictures [of Pure] every weekend,” he explains. “Facebook isn’t for advertising, it’s for joining the conversation, and that’s what the pictures are for.
“So often, people pay your cover and go in to your club, and no one cares about you,” Sherk says, noting that at Pure, they belong, which is a result of a guest list that matters and a Facebook promotion that is doing all the right things.

Gerber Group: Whiskey Blue, Stone Rose Lounge, Living Room and More

Gerber Group owns more than 30 establishments in the U.S., so in order for each location to establish itself as a social media powerhouse, it takes expert thought, planning and a cohesive plan. Isaac Brody, social media director for SOCIALike Inc., who advises Gerber Group on social media, says the strategy is to realize no information is too small to post online. From getting people to the Whiskey Blue Chicago for Blackhawks games or throwing kitschy yet fun parties like the Full Moon party at Whiskey Blue Atlanta, all events get the same amount of social media attention.
Giving even the smallest items more value gives loyal customers incentive to become a fan, a strategy that continues to work in bringing in a new audience. “If we get a new beer, that’s something we hyperlink to on Facebook,” Brody says. “We’re serving Blue Moon at one of the bars, so we hyperlink to the Blue Moon fan page, and then we write on the Blue Moon [Facebook] Wall,” he explains. “It builds awareness and a conversation.”
It’s not just new beers that get the special treatment. Gerber Group uses all Facebook has to offer to its advantage, including Facebook ads and custom web pages.

Gerber Group

Gerber Group operates more than 30 locations in the U.S., so building a loyal customer base via social networking is important to drive business.

For example, to get the word out about Whiskey Blue’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Atlanta, Rob Goldstein, director of marketing and events at Gerber Group, Southeast region, set up a custom website specifically for the event. With a direct link to the Facebook page, Goldstein says 1,700 hits on the website grew to 10,000 by New Year’s, as well as exponentially increasing the number of Facebook fans. It didn’t stop there; they created a Facebook ad using specific keywords so it would pop up on people’s Facebook page when they signed on. By giving events special treatment, Gerber Group transforms every party into can’t miss events.

“The idea, for us, is to generate a lot of interest and interaction to come to our page, and ultimately help to promote our events,” Goldstein says. Customer relations and building value doesn’t stop with Facebook either. Gerber Group is growing its Twitter presence, as well. Managers, bartenders and the PR office have their own Twitter accounts. And with the inception of QR codes on coasters used in certain locations, it’s clear that Gerber Group remains on the cusp of social media trends, proving that getting your guests clicking on your website, Facebook page or following you on Twitter, not only drives sales but also drives customers to your establishment. NCB

Social Media Know-how

Get schooled in social media by attending these conference sessions at the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas:

Monday, March 7
NCB University Workshop: Facebook 201 - Nightclub & Bar Edition 
Maria Miranda, Creative Director and Social Media Advocate, Miranda Creative, Inc. Strategic Communications 

  • Do you currently have a Facebook page but are struggling to attract fans?
  • Are you confused about applications and how to use them effectively?
  • Have you run Facebook ads with poor results or need help in running your first ad?
  • You have fan insights: great, now what?

Get answers to these questions...and more! In this session you will gain hands-on knowledge to make the most of this leading social media and learn about recent developments, tactics for fan recruitment, custom applications and development and how to share and monitor all social media.

Social Media and E-mail Marketing - A Winning Recipe
Presenter: Joe Gabriel, Association Alliances Manager, Fishbowl

 This informative seminar will dive through the basics of using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and how to integrate them with your e-mail marketing plan, providing maximum ROI for your business.  Don’t miss this customer traffic building opportunity!

Tuesday, March 8
Social Media: Mastering ALL the Steps for Driving Sales in your Market
Boris Bugarski, President/CEO, mUrgent
Learn the different components of social media and how to leverage each one for skyrocketing sales, loyalty and local brand awareness. Beware! Your hands will get tired from writing notes in this all-encompassing social media session.

Wednesday, March 9
Social Media Panel - Utilizing Multiple Touch Points Online to Reach a Broader Market
Moderator: David Sribnik, Manager, Trends & Technology, MarkeTeam, Inc.
Panelists: Luther Lowe, Business Outreach Manager, Yelp; Matt Osborn, CEO, Wolf Social Media and Michael Francesconi, Director, Content and Community, CityGrid Media

Join our panel to learn about some of the hottest trends in social media and how successful hospitality companies are choosing their social media mix and why. You should leave with innovative ideas to reach your target markets, and actionable items to enable you to do so.

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