Social Media Makeover, Part 3: Whatas Next for the 20-Something Crowd?

This is the final installment of a three-part series, based on the social media makeovers we (Brittany Oat and I) ran in our interactive (and very lively) session at the Nightclub & Bar Show. The Hoff Hospitality Group in New Zealand is a group of five restaurants and bars. Their tagline is “Raising the bar to give you the best hospitality experience in NZ.”

The pressure was on! How would we raise the bar on their social media marketing? We selected Electric Avenue, one of their properties. It attracts a younger, upscale demographic. The fact that it’s based in New Zealand makes no difference: the bar-going culture is global! (Matt Mclaughlin, who came to our session, was just concerned that the other workshop attendees wouldn’t understand his accent. Of course, he fit right in. We Nightclub & Bar professionals are a clever crew! We were totally charmed by his wit and candor.)

The Challenge

Electric Avenue attracts a younger demographic. Matt engages them via social media by posting pictures of his patrons and offering prizes when people tag themselves. He manages his social media program himself, but struggles with the amount of time it takes. He also doesn’t have a full-year plan, but rather comes up with ideas and programs as the year goes on.


1. By now, if you’ve read our last two makeover columns, you will know what our first suggestion will be – have a plan! Even if you are too busy running your establishment to put together a full-year plan, try tackling the next 30 to 90 days.

  • Wrap your head around your target customer – what they like, what they drink, what social media they use (see #2).
  • Think about seasonality and local events. Is something coming up that you can leverage for themed drinks and promotions?
  • How much time/money can you spend on social media this month? Make a commitment to doing a little each day and/or finding the resources to help you (see #3).
  • Write it down. Commit to it! Post it on a wall. Find an “accountability buddy” who will keep your marketing efforts on track. Make it happen!

2. Electric Avenue is on the right track using visual digital media as the core of their social media marketing efforts. With 2 billion smartphone users globally, we are not surprised that we have become a world of amateur photographers. Bar patrons love to capture nights out with their friends. By continuing to encourage them to use promotional hashtags and giving incentives to active social media users, the bar is on the right track. We encouraged them to make sure that their promotions are very specific and focused, and gave them some new ideas for types of social media promotions they could run.

3. Go where your patrons are. Instagram and Snapchat are among the most-used social media by millennials. However, not all millennials are created equal. Talk to your guests and ask them what media they are using. Bartenders can be a great source of “market research” as they chat with customers. Be sure to reference this chart as you’re planning the social media strategy for your establishment. Become familiar with some of the specific bar and beverage apps as well. Customers will self-identify their tastes and interests. (Please be sure to contact us if you would like the list of apps we shared in our workshop.)

4. Given the popularity of visual digital media (video, photos, and other graphic content on social media), consider installing a photo booth or video booth in your bar, or at least leasing one for special events. Consider making selfie-sticks available for sale. At the Nightclub & Bar Show, a variety of systems and technologies were available to encourage your guests to take photos and post them. It’s great for word-of-mouth marketing and makes sharing the moment even easier for bar-goers.

5. Electric Avenue also needs to build-up its guest database so they can balance their social media posting with email marketing and text messaging guests when running special promotions or events.

6. Last, we had to deal with the lack of time and resources. It’s the most common challenge we hear from business owners, regardless of the industry. Social media, if done well, takes time, expertise, focus, and analytics (to make sure you’re spending your resources on the right media and messaging). Senior management MUST play a role in overseeing social media efforts and helping to develop the plan and messaging strategy. But what about executing that plan?

  • If you can afford it, engage a professional outside resource…but be sure you select wisely. You don’t want one who is managing social media efforts for lots of bars. Although they might have subject matter knowledge, you may not get the personalized attention you need.
  • Look within your bar. Do you have talented writers? Someone who is good with a video camera? Look to turn your internal team into a social media posting brigade.
  • Consider hiring a dedicated social media intern (of legal drinking age, of course) from a local university. He/she will need to be trained and supervised, but can be a tremendous resource…and may even be able to get college credits for the experience.
  • Utilize many of the time-saving tools available for social media posting and analytics, like HootSuite or Social Sprout. Get into a routine. Allocate 15 minutes a day to managing your “social life.”

Above all, be sure to look at your results over time and fine-tune your plan based on what you’re seeing. Social media is not a sales medium, it’s an awareness-building, engagement, and word-of-mouth medium. Measure success by how many people are giving you accolades and spreading the word to their friends.

We hope that these three case studies have given you some new ideas for your establishment. Hope to see you next year at the Big Show!

Want a customer social media makeover for YOUR bar or restaurant and missed our workshop? Be sure to get in touch! Just e-mail us at [email protected].

Coming up next: Spring cleaning your social media efforts.

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