Social Networking for Bars… Are Facebook and Twitter right for your bar?

Social networking is full of endless opportunities for your establishment

Social networking is full of endless opportunities for your establishment

Social Networking has a lot in common with the operation of restaurants and bars every day. In fact, before Facebook and Twitter came along, most social networking happened in bars… but it was done verbally instead of through text comments and posts. Everywhere you look, you see Facebook and Twitter. Have you dismissed it as “something that the young people do?” Running a successful social networking campaign is tricky, there are lots of ways to waste your time and money, but if you work it properly it can add value to your business and bring people through your doors. I hope this piece will provide some clarity and direction for what you and your staff should and shouldn’t be doing with social networks like Facebook, Twitter and youTube.

Young consumers are communicating in a way that they never have before. The 18-35 age group makes up over 50% of social networking users. What’s interesting is that the young people don’t represent the biggest growth. Facebook’s highest rates of growth in the 55+ category, in fact, in 2009, Facebook was the 3rd most popular site visited by those over 65 years old, which means that regardless of your target market, they’re on Facebook! So how do you leverage social networking to the point where guests are walking through your door?

First and most importantly, the biggest mistake that people make is just posting business related information on their Fan Pages or Twitter profile. Here’s how I like to think about it.

Social networking on any platform is like going to a party. When you arrive at the party, you probably want to talk to friends or strangers (who will ultimately become friends.) You would probably talk to them about sports, current events, what you or they did that day etc. Small talk and conversation leads to you having more relationships to cultivate down the road. This is what you should be talking about when you engage in social networking. If the conversation leads to business, of course you can talk about it, but if you’re the person who shows up at the party and starts talking business right away to strangers, no-one will want to talk to you. Picture your social networking campaign the same way. It may seem counterintuitive, but your social networking habits are only believable if they are real and true. Don’t try to make money on a social network.

Don’t post Tweets and Facebook updates about the $4.00 beer special you have on Wednesdays, no one cares and the only followers or friends you’ll have are your staff and your Mom.

Do post Tweets and Facebook updates about funny things that happen at your bar. Post when you run out of chicken wings, without saying that you were busy people will assume that you were rammed.

Don’t post Tweets and Facebook updates about how amazing your food is, no one will believe you. Of course you will say that, you work for the place.

Do post Tweets and Facebook updates like a photo of your bar during a party, then again after the party when the place is a disaster. No-one gets to see photos like that which makes them different and will attract attention.

In short, social networking is a great way to leverage your friends, their friends, your staffs friends and your clients friends to help promote your bar or restaurant. Just make sure you’re using it to give away free valuable information to your target market.

A few years back when I was REALLY passionate about flair bartending, I posted a few videos on youTube teaching people how to do some simple flair bartending tricks for free. I wasn’t trying to earn money from those videos, I really just wanted to grow the sport and get more people involved.

Now those simple short videos are the most watched bartending videos on the planet according to youTube with millions of views, and thousands of views daily! I’m not writing this to impress you, but rather to impress upon you the importance of getting involved in social networking. By the way, the cost of producing those videos has been covered more than tenfold by international students registering for one of our courses… people who would have otherwise never heard of BartenderOne.

The bottom line is, don’t try to sell ANYTHING on a social network. It’s the kiss of death and you will have completely wasted your time. You can check out my Twitter, Facebook, youTube, or mySpace profiles by searching BartenderOne to see some of the techniques I use. Feel free to tweet, message, shoot me a video, or send a smoke signal if you need help, I’d be happy to point you in the right direction. Until then here are the next steps for your social networking effort:

1. Set up a Facebook Fan Page for your business. Even though people don’t officially become “Fans” anymore they can still opt to “Like” your business. The more people who like your business the more happening and credible you become.
2. Set up a Twitter Account for your business and link it to your Facebook account so any tweets you post on Twitter are auto posted to your Facebook Account as well.
3. Set up a YouTube Account and post some videos of cool events that are happening in your bar or restaurant. Although you don’t have time to watch hours of videos, the rest of the world does. Don’t worry about fancy titles and professional editing, raw, rough footage is what your clients want to see.

If you’re still not convinced that getting involved in social networking is right for you, here are some quick facts about Facebook:

Facebook’s US user base grew from 42 million to 103 million in 2009. That’s a 144.9% growth rate!
If Facebook were a country, it would be the 4th largest by population on the planet.
The 35+ demographic now represents more than 30% of the entire user base.
The 55+ audience grew a whopping 922.7% in 2009.
Facebook population in Canada 13,228,380

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