In years past, the patron leaving a club might have been given a flyer or invitation describing the next hot event or promotion. The printing and distribution of invites is now a rarity and limited to mega-club with large marketing budgets. Gone are also the days of banks of girls with sexy voices calling patrons day and night, as it’s viewed to be a spam like approach to marketing. Club owners are now using social media to relay their messages and will continue to until a time comes when club management can "beam" their guests Star Trek style with information.
Today, the increase of smartphones, computers technology and social media outlets has changed all aspects of our lives. Patrons are highly connected and always communicating with friends at other clubs. The public knows what is hot and what’s not, in real time. Groups leave places that are slow to head to hot spots and join tables, -- adding bottles and revenue -- increasing profitability. Groups of four quickly become groups of twelve and club staff needs to move fast and have the flexibility to handle this expansion. The horseshoe shaped banquet, the norm a few years back, is now often replaced by the straight bench seating which is less defined and allows room for these expanding groups.
Even though smartphones gather partners in crime to put down plastic for the sweet spot in a trendy club they can have the opposite effect as well, by dragging people out of a venue. Clubs have to work harder than ever to put on a big show...and that is a good thing. And ultimately changes the way club owners operate.
Social media demands great DJ's, great service and a hot crowd. Its users get to know each other online, at home, at the office or other networking applications. At some point, most (but not all) digital relationships head to the physical world and clubs are often the gathering place for live interaction. That’s when social media’s real value for club owners comes into play, communicating the message of who, what, when and where. The whys are usually lost in the ever present bottles of booze.
To tell us how this happened and explain the various social media options, Nightclub Confidential (NCC) asked leading industry professionals their thoughts.
"In 2004 Facebook launched on college campuses becoming the first easy and relevant way to connect with friends and acquaintances inside a community: hence social networking. Twitter changed the landscape in 2006, allowing people to immediately and actively communicate with groups outside of "their" networks. Later, in 2009, Foursquare added relevance by creating networks around "location". Today, Pinterest and Instragram are now connecting people in the same way via photography. Additionally, LinkedIn has emerged as the leader in the professional networking space. For nightclubs, it was only natural to adopt emerging social trend. This allowed them to create their own networks, foster new communities, and become a relevant participant in the world of social” explains Lara Hanson, founder of Media Converged, a division of Qwasi Inc.
Joonbug the largest producer of holiday events in the U.S. with New Year’s Eve being their biggest event night, producing close to 100 events in 6 markets (NYC, Miami, Philly, Boston, Chicago, and Atlantic City) for a total of 75,000 people. Joonbug is also a local and national media, marketing, and promotions company. When they are not working on NYE, they represent top venues generating weekly promotions and one off events. They oversee all marketing, outreach, and operations while also bringing the trendsetting crowds. Jon Gabel, CEO of Joonbug.com, spoke to NCC on the effects of social media in nightlife.
"Social media has not only changed the way that venues market themselves to customers but also the way that people go out. I think social media has in fact hurt some venues. Mobile apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare have enabled customers to talk amongst themselves and make decisions on where to go based upon peer opinions. In the past, a partygoer may have checked out a venue’s website for information before venturing out but today’s customer searches for what their friends had to say on Twitter. Through social media people now have the ability to announce their arrival at the ropes, report who’s inside, who didn’t get in, who the DJ is, etc. Customers can also post live, negative feedback at the touch of a keypad. Regardless of whether the customer had a great night at the venue, once the information is out there, you can’t take it back – there is no delete” advises Gabel.
He continues with, “While social media is important for any business there are better online tactics for venues to focus on such as SEO, positive press, building a better website, and event listings on sites like Joonbug. Fortunately for promoters and promotions companies, there is the ability to use social media to our advantage. Promoters are seen as peers – we want to provide you with the best party experience. It is beneficial for a customer to engage with us via social media to find out party information and VIP perks. Social media allows us to spread the word about our parties and interact with customers on a one-to-one level with little to no cost."
Jade Bailey-Assam is the director of social media and marketing for TAO Strategic Group New York (TAO, LAVO, Avenue, PH-D and Marble Lane at Dream Downtown). Companies like Tao/Strategic all have a director of social media or outsource this gig to specialty club marketing firms. Bailey-Assam weighed in. . . "Social media is increasingly augmenting traditional ways of promoting events and venues. More and more aspects of our lives occur online and events/promotions is a good example of this. Facebook is the #1 site Americans spend time on and our marketing should accurately reflect this. We, as venue operators, want to be participating in the conversation in the medium in which it is happening. Twitter and Facebook are the biggest online communities, but others such as Instagram and Pinterest are rapidly growing and are on our radar as well. I do think social media is an integral part in any company's marketing strategy, but I do not think it completely replaces a traditional phone call or personalized email. Social media gives us an opportunity to communicate with guests in a one-to-many situation; it allows us to cast a wider net in a way that is not "spammy". First and foremost, we are in the service industry and need to be available to speak to customers in any way they wish to communicate with us, whether it is via telephone, Facebook, or Twitter."
Richie Romero works everywhere. He promotes upwards of 20 events a week and has the ability to get the message out almost instantaneously to the masses or clients he still knows personally. Clubs in New York and In Atlantic City use his services to push their programs. Even with his mailing lists toping six figures he has converted to social media to get the job done. However, Romero is not completely sold on social media. Knowing your client in the 3D real world is a better approach than the 2D computer or smartphone screen. I asked him about how the old and new methods of reaching people converge.
"When social media first came out MySpace, Facebook etc. it was a new advantage to meet new people. The "nerd' took over. People that were not outgoing became "outgoing" through a computer screen. In the promotional market going out and "networking" was working. Each number you got was work and made your roladex stronger. Social media makes people think work is watching TV and making friends on Facebook at 12am instead of being out and networking. With all the social media avenues, people/promoters still fight over the same 400 girls and 100 clients that go out. Building relationships in social settings is still king over social media in promotions. Social media will continue to be a way to reach masses but it’s the cliff notes of reading a book. It’s always better to actually read the book. I still believe in texting and actually picking up the phone as the best method in having a loyal audience. Being social is still just as strong as social media” says Romero.
With Facebook, Tumbler, Twitter, LinkedIn, six E-mail accounts, two cell phones and the amount of pitches, spam and nonsense that bombards accounts, it’s hard to keep up. Thankfully, I receive only a few calls inviting me to the next can't miss, important event. The silence, however, can be deafening in this age of social media.