Notes from the Show
Last week, this column featured the first of the three social media makeovers we (Brittany Oat and I) conducted live at the Nightclub & Bar Show. We helped the Anchor Bar and Grill in Wisconsin figure out how to attract more women to their establishment, using social (and traditional) media.
This week, I’ll share the tips we served-up to Jonathan Grow of the Lone Star Ice House in Texas.
Even though he was in the midst of construction, he broke away to come to the Show and seek out new ideas. Smart man! Although making the time for marketing is often difficult in our industry, when you’re investing in your venue or new talent you cannot neglect your marketing and sales efforts. Just because you build it, they won’t necessarily come – unless you invite them. Social media and other forms of marketing are especially important when you’re making changes. How will your prospects and customers know what you’re up to if you don’t share?
The Lone Star Ice House is in northwest Houston and their state-of-the-art website describes them as “the best little local hangout.” They feature their bartenders, drink specials, and events. Their social sites are hard to miss on their homepage, which is really important. If you want people to “socialize” with you, you need to ask them to do it.
Ahead of the digital curve, Grow invests most of his marketing budget ($300 to $500 a month) in social media advertising. “Where do I go from here?” he asked us.
He was looking to raise the income and age of his guests and, because his social media program is already relatively sophisticated, he just sought out a tune-up to take it to the next level.
1. Plan…plan…plan. And then execute on the plan. Many business owners improvise from day to day. Even if you’re only able to plan for the week ahead, you’ll be ahead of the curve. Of course, you can adjust your posts and spending based on what’s trending in your area and what seems to be working. But planning will save you time in the long-run
As we noted last week, a solid social media plan consists of who you’re trying to reach, an overview of content (what you plan to post), the resources (time and money) you’re allocating, and a posting schedule.
In the case of the Lone Star Ice House, because they have a specific goal of raising the age and income level, they need to pay close attention to the types of social media that demographic is using and focus on them. Here’s a chart you can use to figure that out.
2. Become part of the community! When looking to reach a more affluent sector, go to where the money is. Local business people often join Chambers of Commerce and are active in non-profits. Invite groups into your bar after work for happy hour and employee celebrations. Sponsored events and catering can be good revenue sources. Be sure to post lots of pictures of those events (with the permission of the organizers, of course) and give the groups shout-outs in your posts. Grow notes, “A big takeaway from this year’s Show was how important events are to a bar in terms of organic reach and social engagement. We will be doubling our events in the coming year.”
3. Elevate the graphic appeal of posts was a key recommendation in the makeover. People tend to look at colorful photos first and then read later. Bartenders (especially those who are popular with patrons) make for great photos and video. Use your staff as “models” too!
4. Even if you have an active social media program, never forget the tags in your posts. Lone Star Ice House was just starting to use Instagram. Browse around to see what tags your patrons are using and use them too. Copying in social media is simply spreading the love, not being a copycat. (Here are some tips on tagging, directly from Instagram.)
5. Use video. By 2017, video will account for 69% of all online consumer traffic. Says Grow, “I had no idea that videos are becoming more effective than photos in terms of social engagement.” He plans to expand his use of video in the months ahead.
6. Test and measure. Because so much of the bar’s budget is allocated to social media, knowing what’s working (and what’s not) is especially important. (Even if you’re not allocating budget to Facebook and other digital advertising, people time costs money too. Looking at your analytics at least once a month is essential.) Social media is not an exact science. Only by looking at your fan base, engagement (sharing of posts), and effectiveness of online promotions will you really know if it’s working. Keep in mind that most social media builds awareness but doesn’t directly build sales. Only a great experience at your bar can do that!
Not only did Grow learn a few things in the workshop, he was glad he took the time away to come to Las Vegas. When I followed-up with him afterwards, he asserted, “Probably the most important insight from this year’s conference was that it's critical to stay current in the more dynamic areas of owning a bar, such as social media.”
See you next year too, I hope!
Want a customer social media makeover for your bar or restaurant and missed our workshop? Be sure to get in touch! Just email us at [email protected].
Coming next week: A New Zealand bar owner who wishes he could make more time for social media.