How Bars & Restaurants Can Use Social Media to Increase Business
The restaurant, bar, and tavern business is a fickle one with food and beverage trends constantly evolving. But if there’s one trend on tap destined to make a lasting impression, it’s the impact of social media on a bar or restaurant’s bottom line.
Consider this: 88% of people are influenced by online reviews and comments. That’s a lot of consumer influence being shared via social sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For bars and restaurants to compete in this increasingly social world, it’s important to have a carefully-crafted social media plan that puts this power to work for your establishment.
Build Your Social Presence
Your business is inherently social, so marketing through social media provides perfect symmetry. Want to showcase your extensive beer menu? Spread the word about Happy Hour specials? Promote a new outdoor space? Decide what message you want to convey, then stick with it across all social channels. Today’s consumers are savvy and don’t want to be directly marketed. A consistent message feels authentic and breeds trust, and trust leads to a loyal following that seeks out your brand. You know what happens then? Your followers spread the word for you, tagging and sharing your posts and increasing your social reach exponentially.
Grow Into Your New Space
Not every social platform is created equal, so use the right network to reach the right audience. Post basic information like menus and hours to Facebook since this is typically the first place users will check. Twitter is great for reaching influencers and bloggers who scour tweets for industry news. And if you want to make a big visual splash, Instagram is your go-to. In fact, if you need to choose ONE platform to promote your establishment, make it Instagram since cocktails and bar bites lend themselves to mouth-watering photos that are likely to be shared. Of course, whichever platforms you use, make sure your brand voice is consistent across all of them.
Up Your Insta-Game
Instagram is worthy of its own section due to its unrivaled influence in the food and beverage space. According to a recent report, 90% of businesses claim that Instagram increases their exposure, while 50% have indicated improved sales from using the platform. Since “the Gram” is an image-sharing platform, let your visuals do the heavy lifting. Use Instagram Stories to go beyond the single snap to videos that tell a compelling story about your establishment. Add in visual interest through fun apps like Boomerang or audio effects like popping corks and clinking steins. Use a hashtag incorporating your bar’s name or a combination of hashtags to increase your reach. And since this is social media, invite followers to comment and post their own photos. Last but not least, incorporate a geotag so users can easily click and find your bar’s exact location. By developing a thorough Insta-plan, you’ll create a full-color picture of your bar or restaurant.
Say Last Call to Naysayers
Of course, social media is not all sunshine and rosé. Customers in the hospitality industry are more likely to share negative experiences and comments—everything from mediocre food, to bad service, to dirty bathrooms. One poor review has the potential to reach thousands of people and damage an establishment’s reputation. But there are steps you can take to counteract negative publicity. Monitor your social media accounts and respond immediately and politely to any bad comments. Acknowledge your poster’s point of view, including any facts that rebut the negative comment or steps being taken to rectify the situation. You might also reach out to your loyal clientele and ask if they would post favorable reviews. How you handle online criticism can actually turn a negative situation into a positive one.
Since the bar and restaurant industry is driven by changing tastes, it’s important to stay one step ahead—which also extends to your insurance coverage. Consider ProSight an insurance carrier that caters to your unique industry needs, leaving you the space to focus on business at hand.
—Robert Falvo, Restaurants, Bars & Tavern Leader