Customers want to be part of your story. They like to use social media to engage with your brand, in the hopes of being seen and, in the best case scenario, ‘regrammed’ or ‘retweeted’ by your company.
How effective is social media really, though?
Over 75% of users polled in the Q3 2016 Sprout Social Index stated that they purchased a product solely because they found it on social media. Of this 75%, however, a massive 60.7% state that they need to see the product in at least 2-4 posts before they considering buying it.
What this means for businesses of all kinds is that they need users to follow them, now more than ever. An advertising scheme isn’t enough to make the sale or to convince users to visit your store. You need to use your advertising scheme to make the “soft sale” or, in other words, to follow you or to sign up for newsletters.
Social media, despite how mired it has become, is still social. You need to build relationships with your followers. Here’s a guide on how to do just that.
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are considered the giants in social media. They are the ones to beat, and all businesses, especially those in hospitality, can benefit from the first three (Pinterest is trickier).
To be successful on all these platforms, you need to do the following:
Instagram is the most influential social media platform out there. It is easy to use, visual-focused, and has a growing, thriving community. Furthermore, it has recently introduced several key business tools that have made it easier than ever to grow as a business.
You can sell products directly from your posts, send users to links from your stories, and even grow your audience on IGTV. The only problem with these features is that you need to be approved to use them, and in most cases, this means having a significant following (in some cases at least 10,000) before you have access to them.
Fear not, though. Organic engagement and advertising can come into play here.
Start first by building up a following organically. Comment, like, and follow users in your niche, and start posting great content. Once you have a small following of around 100 or so users, you can then start looking into paid advertising campaigns to boost engagement and followers.
Advertising before your profile has a healthy feed can be a waste, so make sure to do this only once you have a strong profile to offer users. The point here, after all, is to make the soft sale so you can continue to ‘woo’ your followers.
If you handle your profile correctly, you could see the viral success that the Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe, or #saltbae has seen. Not only has Instagram boosted his internet fame, but it has also led him to open up another restaurant in London.
What’s more, your bar’s aesthetic can be greatly beneficial. Be sure to design the layout of your bar so that it entices those who want an Instagrammable experience. Cafes such as The Grind in London, and London’s Tonight Josephine are great examples with their neon signs.
Although Facebook owns Instagram, the platforms couldn’t be more different.
Like previously stated, business pages can be as customised as some websites are. Use your Facebook page as your home base, and remember to never cross-post. Advertising will be more useful on this platform, due to the amount of information that users have offered, but one of the most important features will be the location-based advertising.
As a bar, you will have very few locations to focus on, thus allowing you to target your advertising to people who can actually visit your bar in the future. Combine an advertising campaign with share-worthy posts like those created by Buzzfeed’s Tasty platform, and you can see your posts and videos reach global audiences.
Twitter is a fun platform, perfect to help you grow an audience and your brand identity through relatable and, often, entertaining tweets. Offer up niche-related jokes, deals, and event news throughout the day, and always try to respond to all mentions and direct messages. Doing so can help you boost customer service and expand your brand’s reach.
Pinterest is great if your bar has strong aesthetic values. Create mood boards, build a following, and remember to post a healthy amount of your own pins with links to your site.
Remember to optimise your Pinterest posts for SEO. It is possible for you to boost your website’s ranking through this under-tapped platform.
Finally, it’s time to move on to location and review-based platforms like TripAdvisor. Not only are these useful in boosting turnout from those who are visiting your neighbourhood, but they are also key to improving your local SEO efforts.
Sign up your business on all the local sites that apply to you, from Google Business to TripAdvisor, and remember to keep an eye on them. People will review and you need to be there to respond to both the good and the bad.
An extension of review-based apps are location-based apps and websites like Time Out. The specific sites you will want to sign up to, of course, will depend entirely on where you are located. The smaller the city or town, the less options you will have. If you are located in a city like London, however, then there will be plenty of small platforms you can list your company on. Every little bit helps, especially if you can tap into a niche market.
Each of these social media platforms offers users the ability to create and share for free. Using the premium or business platforms, of course, will cost money. Thankfully their advertising platforms are very customisable, so create a budget and stick to it. In many cases advertising campaigns don’t need a lot of reach to become successful, they need creativity. Once each advertising campaign is over, review it, improve it, and start again.