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How Social Media Benefits the Bar and Nightclub Industry

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Social media marketing offers excellent benefits when it comes to promoting your bar, pub or nightclub.Social media encompasses different forms of communication, entertainment, marketing and networking.According to business blogger and social media expert, Chris Brogan, social media “is a new set ofcommunication and collaboration tools that enable many types of interactions that were previouslynot available to the common person (1). Social media encapsulates online technologies and moderncommunications tools to allow personal and business interactions. Online networking platforms, blogs,podcasts and other media can do wonders when it comes to bringing like-minded people together. Whenused as a marketing tool, social media can help businesses enhance brand awareness, improve sales andincrease overall profits.

This white paper intends to help bar and nightclub owners learn more about the benefits of social mediafor their establishments. Included are explanations of popular social media platforms and suggestions forhow to master them and improve your business in the process.

What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is the process of utilizing online social channels to communicate with others for the purpose of broadening your customer base. Through online social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Foursquare, businesses can reach local and global audiences to promote their brand, products and services.

Studies show that Americans are spending more and more time on social networking websites (2). According to recent research from The Nielsen Company, Americans of all ages spend about a quarter of their online time on social networking websites. People are reconnecting with friends and family, reading blogs and learning more about their favorite businesses, and they are doing it on social networks.

When it comes to configuring a working marketing strategy, there is no need to disengage from traditional marketing strategies in favor of adopting a marketing plan driven purely by social media. When businesses engage guests and potential customers online in a meaningful way, it adds value to their existing marketing strategies.

The important thing to note is that the old ways of posting a few flyers in windows will no longer do justice to your message—or your audience.


1) Chris Brogan, Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010), 11.

2) Nielson Wire. “What Americans Do Online: Social Media And Games Dominate Activity.”­line_mobile/what-americans-do-online-social-media-and-games-dominate-activity/ (accessed December 17, 2010)

10 Ways Social Media Can Benefit Your Bar or Nightclub
To recap, social media marketing has the potential to benefit a bar or restaurant in many ways, if given time and if used properly. Bar owners can use social media in conjunction with traditional marketing to create a well-rounded marketing plan and appeal to a wide range of customers. Since bargoers are fairly social people anyway, this method helps you meet your audience where they are comfortable. There are several ways that social media can benefit a bar or nightclub:

1. Improved brand awareness. Social media marketing drives brand awareness for eating and drinking establishments. This in turn improves visibility and eventually leads to sales conversion. Since social media platforms can reach a greater audience than a flyer on a window, your brand awareness has a better chance of improvement.

2. Increased traffic from new customers. When potential customers locate a business through a blog, Facebook page or other social media platform, they have a chance to learn about the business before visiting it in person. When your messaging is professional and inviting, you can plan on receiving more customer traffic.

3. Sales growth. The improvement to sales is best-measured as a long-term investment. Sales increase as a result of improved awareness and increased traffic due to word­of-mouth marketing, discounts, specials or events offered over social media channels that encourage participation and patronage.

4. Repeat business. Social media allows a business to put a face to their name, enticing visitors to come back again and again after becoming familiar. Once the business establishes a positive connection with guests, repeat sales start to build.

5. Low cost and high return. Social networking, blogging, podcasts and other forms of social media are usually low-cost forms of marketing. Running ads on social networking platforms like Facebook are not free, but business owners are always in control of their final budget. With the right balance of messaging and promotions, the return potential with social media can be sky-high.

6. Events and promotions communications. When hosting an event or launching a new menu item, communicating about it helps ensure a good turn-out. Social networking sites have a unique ability to stir the masses with very little effort. It is easy to overdo it with promotional messaging, however, so avoid spamming your customers and communicate with caution.

7. Enhanced customer interaction. Social media tools offer customer insight as well as customer interaction. While the experience of person-to-person contact in a bar cannot be replicated, social media sites can help engage guests in conversation about the establishment, the experience and their desires for improvement. Take some time to see what these people are saying, what they ask for and what they are interested in. When guests feel engaged and important, they are more likely to patronize a business.

8. Positive testimonials. In the online world, word­of-mouth marketing spreads faster than wildfire.
“I think especially for new businesses, [social Customers take first-hand reviews very seriously when me-dia] is a good way to just get your name it comes to purchasing products or services or even out there…and I think to really create a going out for happy hour. Social media channels can following, you need social media.”provide a canvas for happy customers to paint a positive –Hanna Laney, Great Divide Brewing Company image of your establishment—but they can also do the opposite, if their experience is not a pretty picture.

9. Means of monitoring online reputation. Social media is made up of several forms of “listening tools,” which afford us the ability to listen to the things customers are saying, both good and bad (3). Read customer comments online, and consider any negative reviews a learning experience. Communicate effectively if needed, and grow the business in a positive direction. Lashing out or being rude will almost always backfire. This unfortunate Yelp situation played out at a pizza shop in Arizona in 2010 when the owner made some unsavory remarks to an unsatisfied customer.

10. Complementary to other campaigns. Social media can run hand-in-hand with traditional marketing strategies, and even help promote thosecampaigns further. For example, some bars or nightclubs gather customer business cards and give away a free happy hour once a month. These types of giveaways can be promoted through Twitter, forexample, and guests can send direct messages to the bar or club’s Twitter page to enter the drawing with their contact information.

“I think especially for new businesses, [social me-dia] is a good way to just get your name out there…and I think to really create a following, you need social media.” –Hanna Laney, Great Divide Brewing Company




3) Chris Brogan, Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010), 11.

Measuring Social Media Marketing Success


Like any good marketing campaign, it takes time for all the benefits of social media to pay off. Over time, social media should become integrated into your overall marketing strategy, with a goal of developing a community of supporters and eventually, loyal guests.

Measuring the efficacy of a social media marketing campaign depends on the goals of the operation. Watching trends in the number of followers, as well as the number of clicked links can be good ways of tracking customer engagement, but it can be tough to identify when customers come to the bar or nightclub solely due to social media efforts. It’s important to keep track of trends, and then trace them back to the point of origin, if possible. Thankfully, there are analytics tools out there to track your online metrics. Here are some social media analytics tools for measuring ROI:

• Google Analytics. This tool offers a powerful baseline for analysis. Use Google Analytics to track the activity of your website users. Knowing what pages potential customers visit can be useful.

• TweetMeme Analytics. TweetMeme is used to track popular Twitter links. TweetMeme Analyticshas reporting tools that can be useful for those who set up TweetMeme’s retweet buttons on their sites. Its dashboard shows total tweets, clicks and top tweet locations. It’s basically Google Analytics for TweetMeme.

• HootSuite. HootSuite is a Twitter manager with impressive analytics and integrative site capabilities.

These are a few tools to try, but implementing social media analysis does not need to be rocket science. Figure out how much you spend on marketing before social media, and then take a look at what you spend with it. Keep a close eye on how sales change, how communities develop and what kinds of marketing or advertising campaigns may not be serving the business.

Deciding if Social Media is Right for Your Business
According to the Social media can help you reach a broad audience, keep up on customer opinions and make some exciting changes to your marketing campaign. Data from the 2011 National Restaurant Industry (NRA) Restaurant Industry Forecast indicate that social media savvy customers—those who utilize at least one social media platform—are more active in the restaurant and bar community than the general public. Other NRA data suggests that more than 50% of restaurant and bar operators will incorporate Facebook, online review sites, Twitter and blogs into their marketing mix by 2013, presumably in order to communicate with this portion of the population (4).

Although there are good arguments for giving social media marketing a try, here are a few questions to ask before diving in:

• Who are your customers? Consider the people who frequent your bar, pub, or club currently, and compare them to your target customers. If your business is well-established with a clientele unlikely to utilize social networks, social media may prove less successful for your particular business. However, most nightclubs, bars and lounges will find success using Facebook, Twitter and mobile marketing to cater to customers who use these in their daily lives anyway.

• Does your business have a good Web site? A visually-appealing, easy-to-navigate Web site is essential for operators considering social media marketing. Without a Web site, there is nowhere to drive customers looking for additional information. If your bar is connected to a restaurant, a Web site can also help drive reservations and capture potential customer data.

• What are your marketing goals? Probably your goal is to increase brand awareness and improve sales. Be sure not to lose sight of the big picture by simply trying to gather as many Facebook fans as possible, just because you can, does not achieve a business goal, but rather a superficial target without a meaningful objective. Businesses should consider the message they wish to convey, as well as the best ways to convert customers into followers, rather than getting followers for the sake of getting followers.

• What resources will it take? The owner, general manager or an internet-savvy employee often takes the helm of a social media marketing plan, especially in its early stages. And although this does take some extra time and effort on the part of the employee, this can be the best way to start. However, if it may be wise for you to hire someone rather than use in-house personnel, based on time constraints or comfort level with the internet.


4) National Restaurant Association. “2011 Restaurant Industry Forecast Social Media News Release.”­room/social-media-releases/release/?page=social_media_2011_forecast.cfm (accessed May 23, 2011)

Social Media Platforms for a Bar or Nightclub
Creating a successful social media campaign requires awareness, organization and a commitment to building a community around your business concept. Below, you will learn about several of the most common social networking applications, several of which may prove useful in your marketing endeavors.

Facebook for the Bar or Nightclub
What is Facebook?
With over 500 million users (5) worldwide—and growing—Facebook is the behemoth of online social connections. It started as an exclusive network of college students, and now connects parents to children, teachers to students and even businesses to customers. Facebook is now the most demographically diverse it has ever been, offering an extremely viable way to communicate to a huge audience in a variety of ways.

How Do I Get Started?
Before getting started, check out Facebook’s terms of service. Different from Facebook accounts, Facebook pages are designed forconnecting with fans on Facebook, and are perfect for representingbusinesses, encouraging communication and spreading the wordabout upcoming events and new special products.

Great Ways to Gain Facebook Followers
One of the most valuable aspects of Facebook is its global reach. By posting on Facebook, you can reach a wideaudience of followers who can access information about your business in one place online. The followingincludes steps for gaining more followers on Facebook.

1. Work with a designer. Branding your Facebook page with high quality visuals and your bar’s logo will go a long way when it comes to setting your place apart and engaging visitors.

2. Post interesting updates. Post business updates on your wall, including contests, nightly events and new menu items. Your followers can tell when you are being candid, and this helps establish credibility.

3. Offer discounts and coupons. Offering online coupons stimulates user activity and brand awareness. In February of 2011, Taco Bell offered a printable coupon for a free taco to anyone on Facebook who clicked “like” when they visited the Taco Bell Facebook page. The value of this tech-savvy promotion was estimated at over $9 million. Bars, especially those that serve food, can do the same thing.

4. Insert a Facebook button on your website. This goes for any social media platform. Put a button on your site that will lead visitors to your social networking channels and encourage increased traffic.

Basic Facebook Tips for the Bar or Nightclub
Facebook can be used as a valuable social tool to inform others about who you are, but also to learn about your customers. When it comes to Facebook for the bar, there are a few basic tips that can help you get the most from your time online.

• Create a menu tab. Use the tabs on your page to create a customized menu tab where you can showcase your drink menu. This allows you to display all your favorites and daily specials, all while increasing engagement on your main Facebook page.

• Customize your Facebook privacy settings. Consider where the default settings on your Facebook page are set, and take the time to go through each section of the Facebook privacy settings to make the necessary adjustments.

• Post wisely. It is more valuable post things your clientele will care about than to post like crazy just to make use of Facebook. Consider your audience and use Facebook as a means of communication with the people you hope to attract.

Twitter for the Bar or Club

What is Twitter?
Twitter aims to connect people to the latest information about anything and everything; whatever people find interesting. Twitter capitalizes on the concept of real time, or instant communication. Twitter builds on the concept of posting small bursts of information in 140 characters or less. These posts appear in feeds, or streams, depending on what people are interested in. Users can post as much as they want or as little as they want; Twitter is valuable for contributors as well as those who simply wish to “listen” and learn. It is thus valued for its accessibility, as well as its up-to-the-minute information. Twitter has over 175 million registered users in almost every country in the world, and over 95 million tweets are written per day (6).

Twitter finds its influence and strength in its short messaging format, easy accessibility and real-time communication strategy. Businesses can use Twitter to share information about products or services, improve customer focus and build relationships.

How Do I Set Up an Account?

“The ongoing challenge is keeping people entertained. They are on Facebook and Twitter to be entertained.” —Sean Moore, Cake Crumbs Bakery

To set up a Twitter account, simply go to Devise a name that makes sense for the business, such as the bar’s name. Input a password and email address, and take a moment to read the terms of service. Then, voila! A new Twitter account is hatched and ready to tweet.

Basic Twitter Tips for the Bar or Nightclub
Getting the hang of using Twitter takes a little research and practice. Even if you already know how to use it, using Twitter as a professional to promote a business requires a little extra web-savvy. These tips will help you get started tweeting to the masses and communicating about all the things you have to offer.

Get current customers to follow you. It may help to have your current, loyal customers follow you on Twitter first. This way, they can pass along the positive information to their network of followers and friends. Try old fashioned marketing methods like posters to communicate your online presence, and try putting your social network name and information on the guest receipt

• Lead guests to your website. Present your bar or club’s website URL (web address) in your Twitter profile. This way, anyone who visits your page can find a link to your website, regardless of whether or not they are following you.

• Post special offers to followers. Offer special deals and time-sensitive offers on Twitter to reward your most loyal followers. When people see coupon codes, event information or condensed links to your website, they are encouraged to take action.

5 Steps for Gaining Twitter Followers
Finding followers is a big part of extending brand awareness on the internet. Here are some suggestions for finding and keeping followers on a Twitter account:

1. Target followers with shared interests. Social search engines can be a good tool for finding followers that share similar interests or backgrounds. This can help you gain a more targeted Twitter audience. Check out Twitter Search to find tweets from people you are not yet connected to.

2. Follow those who follow you. Following those who follow you can help build relationships, but maintain some discretion in who you follow, especially as a business. Don’t follow anyone who looks like a spammer, or someone who may simply be looking to increase their count of total Twitter followers.

3. Post interesting updates. Other users want to follow those who post interesting, original updates. The repetitive and the boring rarely gain momentum on sites like Twitter. User your 140 characters wisely, and keep it unique so your followers stay actively interested.

4. Avoid excessive Tweeting. As with sending too many promotional emails, posting excessive tweets can irritate followers. Unless you use Twitter to post breaking news, try not to post more than once per hour. Do respond to people personally if they have questions or inquiries. This lets them know you are listening.

5. Let followers evolve naturally. Be patient with your list of followers. As others find you on Twitter and read your updates, you are bound to gain more followers who will be important to your business in the long run. You will also be considered more trustworthy if your follower list develops naturally, too, than if you suddenly have a huge list.


5) “Facebook Ads” (accessed February 18, 2011)

6) “Twitter About Page” (accessed February 18, 2011)

Yelp for the Bar or Nightclub

What is Yelp?
Yelp is both an informational and social site that benefits consumers and businesses alike. Consumers can visit Yelp to find information, candid reviews and ratings. Approximately 45 million people have visited Yelp as of January 2011 (7). Yelp benefits businesses by offering a user-friendly hub of centralized information, special offers, event listings and community discussions. Yelp has many communities in cities across the globe, and those who review businesses, known colloquially as Yelpers, have written more than 15 million local reviews, more than 80% of which have ratings of three stars or more out of a possible five (8).

Business owners or reviewers can set up listings for any type of business. While consumers may be the first to submit the new business to Yelp, operators are encouraged to take ownership of their business page to interact with the Yelp community.

Yelp provides a benefit to consumers and businesses alike as an information-driven community and socially-oriented reviewing site.

How do I Set up an Account?
There are two things you need to do in order to set up an account on Yelp. Make sure an account exists, first, and if not, set up a listing.

• Determine if an account exists for your bar or club. Visit and click “Get Started.” You will first need to search for your business to see if it already exists on Yelp.Yelpers can create profiles for businesses if one does not exist, so there may be a profile for your establishment and you might not know about it.

• Set up a listing if needed. If your business profile does not yet exist on Yelp, you will be promptedfrom the link above to add your business to Yelp. Simply enter in the basic information about your business, including address, website URL and business hours, and within a day or two your businesswill show up in Yelp search results.

How to Gain Positive Reviews on Yelp
In order to earn positive reviews, consider what you would do normally in your business to get good feedback. Focus on positive service, excellent reputation management and treating every customer like themost important one.

• Let the reviewers review. When it comes to reviews, it’s usually best to let them evolve on their own. It is generally not a good idea to review your own business, or ask your friends or family to do so, since those reviews will be biased. If you do review your own business, state clearly that you are the owner or manager.

• Take negative reviews seriously. If someone leaves a negative review, it is not necessary to respond to the reviewer. In fact, sometimes this can backfire, especially if you think you feel like lashing out against the Yelper. Instead, focus on the things you can fix, and the ways you can improve the service or quality of the business. Run the business the best you can, and great reviews will follow. Take the feedback to heart, but know that you cannot please everyone all the time.

• Post specials and deals on your business listing. Business owners have the ability to post happy hourspecials and other deals on their Yelp business listings. This is a great way to educate visitors about your current offerings and also encourage greater engagement.

• Keep contact information up-to-date. Make sure your website, address, phone number and hoursof operation are all current and accurate at all times. This information is crucial for new customers trying to find you.

One important thing to note is that Yelp ratings for bar, clubs and other establishments now appear in Google searches for nightclub names and information. Striving for a high star rating is more important now than ever since nightlife and entertainment decisions are made within seconds of viewing online ratings.


7) “Yelp About Page” (accessed March 4, 2011)

8) Ibid

Foursquare for the Bar or Nightclub

What is Foursquare?
Foursquare is a social media platform that utilizes modern geolocation services people use with their mobile devices or cell phones. For instance, when walking into a bar, one can use Foursquare to “check in” to the establishment. Alerting friends to one’s whereabouts is one way to “be seen” in social circles, hence part of Foursquare’s appeal. Foursquare has a playful nature to it, letting users earn points, “badges,” and other fun rewards just for checking in on a mobile device.

“People like to go to friendly places. They like to feel welcome, they like to feel like they know what’s go-ing on and they are treated like valuable customers, so I think social media really helps create that.” —Hanna Laney, Great Divide Brewery

How Do I Set Up an Account?
Getting started on Foursquare is very simple. Customers help “People like to go to friendly places. They like out with a good deal of the initial work much of the time. to feel welcome, they like to feel like they know This means that, like Yelp, patrons are able to create business what’s go-ing on and they are treated like listings if a location is not yet listed. A bit of accuracy-checking valuable customers, so I think social media and the business owner can move on to more important really helps create that.” things. Read on to learn how to claim a venue, as well as how —Hanna Laney, Great Divide Brewery customers use accounts.

3 Steps for Setting up a Business Venue
Businesses should set up their own locations—or venues—on Foursquare to ensure that customers can find them to begin checking-in. This is typically a three-step process:

1. Claim your venue. This is your opportunity to search for your establishment in your local area, and then click a button that says, “Claim this venue.” This states that you manage the location. If your venue is not yet listed, you are given the opportunity to log-in and create the listing.

2. Create specials. After claiming the venue, come up with a special or two to attract new customers and keep loyal patrons satisfied. These specials are typically offered to people who check-in using Foursquare, so the element of exclusivity sets it apart.

3. Set up campaigns and watch business grow. Foursquare offers a data organizer called Venue Stats Dashboard, which monitors total daily check-ins, most frequent visitors, gender breakdown and more. This helps business analyze data to maximize campaign efficiency and improve customer traffic.

How Can I Gain Followers on Foursquare?
Unlike other social media platforms, businesses do not have friends, fans or followers on Foursquare. However, tapping into this tool is a great way to monitor the people who manually check-in at your location and tell their friends about it, which can help increase awareness and draw more traffic.

Basic Tips for Foursquare

• Make Sure Customers Can Find You. Usually, if a customer wants to check-in to your location on Foursquare, but your location has not been created yet, the customer has the option of adding it manually within a few seconds. It is a good idea to check out the information listed about your establishment and make sure your street address, phone and other contact information is accurate.

• Promote Your Presence on Foursquare. Add the Foursquare widget to your website, and tweet or post about your participation on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to thank your mayors and other frequent visitors. Write a note about your involvement on your drink menu or happy hour list. Foursquare even offers to send free stickers that say “Foursquare: Check-in Here” to help your cause.

Analyze the Activity. Foursquare offers free analytics on the Merchant Dashboard so you can see how and when people are checking in and what portion of check-ins are broadcast to Facebook and Twitter. This can offer valuable insight into the needs and wants of your customer base.

3 Examples of Specials Used on Foursquare
Advanced Foursquare knowledge generally involves learning about different specials to offer customers. Offer specials are successful because they engage visitors in friendly competitions, encourage patronage and promote your products and services.

The Mayor Special. The example known as the “Mayor Special,” rewards the most frequent customer over the past 60 days. This encourages repeat visitors and stimulates competition among friends frequenting your venue. A special may be that the Mayor gets a free drink every day of his or her reign.

The Frequency Special. This special is like a loyalty card or a punch card, letting customers redeem the reward every time they visit. For instance, a customer may receive a free coffee with every 5th check-in.

The Venue Regulars Special. This special encourages users to come back in short periods of time, such as three times in one week. For instance, a special could involve a free happy hour item if a user checks in so many times during a sporting tournament.


New technologies and changing markets have evolved the ways that people interact with businesses. Social media provides a new way for businesses to listen to their potential customers’ needs, and even start a dialogue. Whether you maintain a strong Facebook page or build an active Foursquare community, you are creating another avenue to promote your business entertain your customers and build lasting relationships.

About was founded in June of 2006 with a single business goal in mind: empowering food service operators to make their own businesses more successful. At, we offer step-by-step assistance throughout the entire process of learning about and shopping for restaurant equipment and supplies. Our vast selection and educational resources create an incredibly comprehensive yet straightforward online shopping and learning experience, especially directed toward the bar and nightclub owner and operator.

When it comes to learning tools and resources, our one-of-a-kind Education Center is a great place to start. A library of free online articles, buying guides and downloadable tools gives you a comprehensive look at the food service industry from the inside out, and our Bar Specialty Store provides in-depth focus on the beverage industry specifically. When you need supplies, look no further than our Web site, where we offer over 100,000 items from nearly 300 manufacturers. To date, over 7,000 bars have come to us for supplies.

Our combination of comprehensive research materials, extensive product selection and customer-focused support make a one-of-a-kind experience for anyone in the food or beverage industry. For more information, please visit our website at

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