There’s a pretty good chance you will look at your Facebook page once you have finished your visit to this site. You might even post a link to this article as a status update, or mention it on Twitter if you have enjoyed reading it. Soon after, some of your friends might see the link, visit this page, repost it themselves and suddenly BarLifeUK has gained a dozen new readers without lifting a finger.
This cascade effect is one of social media’s most valuable assets, and is partly responsible for its massive growth. It is a uniquely people-based method of communication, despite the underlying technological platform, and when used well, elevates word of mouth recommendation to a whole new level.
However, over or misuse of social media will burn relationships with potential customers as surely as a badly made cocktail or dirty toilet can in the real, non-digital world, so we have compiled a few bar-specific tips to help keep your Tweets sweet.
Preparation is Paramount
The first step of your foray into social media is choosing the right sites for your needs. The major players are currently Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and LinkedIn,
Myspace membership has been in decline for some time, being used mainly now by unsigned bands looking for new fans.
LinkedIn is primarily a business networking tool, and so the broad demographic user-base of Facebook and Twitter make them the strongest contenders for a bar hoping to engage with existing and new customers.
Social Networking Vs Microblogging
Facebook and Twitter are often mentioned in the same breath when talking about social media, but they are very different sites, designed to do different things.
Facebook, the social networking daddy, is all about communities. By creating a page for your bar and amassing a group of friends or fans, it allows you to build a very interactive, two-way relationship with your customers.
You can send messages to your fans, letting them know about promotions, news or any other developments that you feel will interest them and ultimately get them into your bar. They in turn can post messages to you and fellow fans on your wall. Your fans can also see who else likes your bar, a fact often overlooked when using Facebook for marketing purposes.
Try and encourage a dialogue with your fans by asking them questions: What cocktail would you like to see added to our list? What colour should we paint the bar? If people are writing on your wall, you are doing something right.
Twitter is all about one-to-one communication. Your followers cannot easily see who else is a fan, and so messages from you feel much more personal. Restricted as you are to 140 characters, messages have to be snappy and should where possible contain a call to action. Mentioning a drinks promotion and then linking to full details on your website or Facebook page is good practice. Sending twenty Tweets a day that document the mundane minutia of running a bar is not, and will cause followers to unsubscribe as quickly as you can say “eating pie and mash for lunch LOL”
What’s in a Name?
Setting up a Facebook or Twitter account only takes a few minutes,
but think carefully before taking the plunge. If a staff member sets up your Facebook group as an extension of their personal profile, and then leaves your employ a few months later, problems can arise.
It’s almost always a good idea to keep work and personal life separate, so a stand alone bar profile is normally the way to go.
And as tempting as it may be to call yourself LoveGod69 or BadgerBadgerBadger, neither name will tell web surfers who you really are.
This may sound obvious, but you cannot change your user name once the account has been set up, so make it future proof and descriptive of your business.
Listen First, Ask Questions Later
Once your account is live, some thought should be given to the kind of message you want to project to your fans.
Following a number of people who fit your target demographic and keeping an eye on the types of information they ‘like’ or follow, will give you an idea of the sort of thing they will respond to.
Take this information and see how it fits with your own idea of how your bar is perceived. If these two ‘identities’ are in line, you can begin to let information flow out to your followers.
However, if there is a marked difference between how you position your bar, and the interests of your target market, it is important to re-examine your message, otherwise your marketing will at best be ineffective, and at worst cause followers or fans to unsubscribe.
As your Mum probably said, “If you don’t have something useful to say, don’t say anything at all”. She was right, at least when it comes to social media. Instead of transmitting a constant stream of mundane message such as “Make sure you check out our website” or “Going to be a big night tonight Woo Hoo”, plan your Tweets and Facebook posts in advance as thoroughly as you would your staffing roster.
And as mentioned before, wherever possible post links that will mean something tangible to your customers: loyalty offers, new photos (people love to see if they have been papped on a night out), menu changes.
Just as you would buy extra stock, roster an extra bar back or put together a music playlist for a special night or promotion, plan what you will say and who will say it on your social media sites, before, during and after the event.
Social media is a powerful tool, but its speed and ease of use often fool users into diving in without proper thought or preparation. While there’s nothing wrong with the odd ad-hoc Tweet or Facebook update, too many that don’t say anything of substance will lose you fans.
However, plan in advance and have a clear understanding of what you want your message to be, remember the internet maxim that ‘Content is King’ and then the cascade effect could soon be bringing new, iPhone toting, money spending customers through your door.