Social Media Marketing for Bars: A Complete Guide
Social media marketing for bars has become incredibly important for any bar marketing plan.
Patrons now use social media to find, research and review bars, so bar owners and marketers need a robust social media marketing plan.
This guide will walk you through the minefield that is social media, so you can create a plan that will get your bar more customers and get them coming back for more.
You can use the links below to jump to the section you’re interested in:
1. Getting setup
2. How to get the most out of each platform
3. What to post about
4. When to post
5. How to increase engagement
6. Location-based advertising
7. User-generated content
1. Getting setup
The first mistake bars make when starting their social media marketing journey is that they create social media accounts because it’s popular to do so.
Following the crowd and making an account for the sake of it is a big mistake. These bars end up with accounts that won’t work for them, have little engagement and be pretty much a waste of time.
Don’t fall into this category.
The only way of getting results via social media marketing is by having a clear plan and clear goal or purpose for each type of account.
Before you setup each account write down each platform that you’re thinking of using and start planning how and why you’re going to use each one.
Social media marketing for bars requires a robust plan, here’s what you need to brainstorm:
– Platforms to use (there’s more than you think). Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat etc.
– What’s the aim or goal of this social media account? Instagram you may say it’s for brand awareness, Twitter for handling complaints, Tik Tok to appeal to a younger audience.
– What sort of content will you post on each account? Because each platform has a different goal or purpose and potentially a different target audience, your content might be slightly different.
– How do you plan on keeping the social media accounts active? Inactive social media accounts are worse than no accounts at all.
– What’s the exact strategy you’re going to use to increase followers and engagement on each platform?
This guide will help you with a lot of these questions but having a clear plan for each platform is vital for social media marketing success.
2. How to get the most out of each platform
There are now several different popular social media platforms that your bar could open an account on. Each serve different purposes and may have different target audiences.
Successful social media marketing for bars requires knowing how each one works and how to use each one so you can achieve the results you desire.
Here’s each platform and what you need to think about:
How to use Facebook
Create a Facebook business page for your bar and share your best content. This include photos, videos and polls.
The aim is to build a community around your bar, so you get repeat customers.
Facebook’s organic reach has plummeted in recent years as shareholders have put more pressure on Zuckerberg to make more money. This means that if you share a post on Facebook, it won’t necessarily reach the newsfeeds of the people who like your page or their friend’s.
This doesn’t mean creating good content and posting isn’t worth it. Each person will still have a ‘page rank’ with your bar’s business page. This ‘page rank’ tells Facebook whether that person is interested in your content.
One like = 1 point
One comment = 2 points
One share = 3 points
This is roughly how your page rank with individuals is worked out. If someone keeps sharing, commenting and liking, then Facebook knows they’re interested.
This is why it’s so important to create amazing content that people will be engage with.
Via your Facebook page, you can also create Facebook ads to guaranteeing reaching a local target audience for your bar. It’s best to do this with a sales hook, such as 50% off a food bill.
Facebook has a lot of users and pretty much everyone has an account. But that doesn’t mean everyone is checking their newsfeeds regularly or at all.
Facebook’s most engaged audience is now the 35+ bracket, so if your bar’s target audience is younger people, then Facebook won’t be your best platform.
If your bar wants 35+ people, then Facebook is a great option. That’s where your audience is hanging out and engaging with brands.
1. Get your bar’s community involved and get them engaging with your posts. Think of content that is very inviting and easy to respond to, for example, ask your community to suggest what your signature cocktail should be. You could even create a competition around that.
2. In your post’s captions, ask engaging questions so it’s easy for people to reply. This will improve your page’s rank and reach more people.
3. Be consistent. Try and post at least every other day. If the content is awful, it’s better not to post it. Only share high quality content.
4. Use Facebook stories. Facebook reward pages that use their new Facebook story feature. Try and use this so you’re always in the hearts and minds of your customers.
How to use Instagram
Due to an increase in demand to visual marketing, Instagram is one of the biggest social platforms in the world.
On Instagram you can share your best content on a feed, including photos and videos. You can also use Instagram stories, which is content that disappears after 24 hours.
It’s incredibly powerful for building a following and engaging with your customers.
If a customer was to take a picture or video in your bar, it’s more than likely going to be uploaded to Instagram compared to any other social platform.
So not only do you need a strategy for your own content, but you can take advantage of user-generated content as well.
For a full guide on how to use Instagram and grow your bar’s sales, Bloc’s founder Joshua Wood, has created an Instagram course for Instagram growth that you can purchase.
This goes into incredible detail of how to grow your Instagram properly and actually increase sales via the platform.
Instagram is owned by Facebook, so when you create an ad on Facebook you can also reach people on Instagram. It’s incredibly powerful for geo-targeted ads, so this can be considered if you have a good marketing budget.
Instagram’s audience ranges from 12-50 mainly. With the biggest proportion of active users being 18-30.
You can bet your audience is on Instagram. And if they’re not, they will be eventually. Instagram is a must have when implementing your social media marketing plan.
1. Make your newsfeed look beautiful by using a theme. Colour themes work really well or patterns.
2. Follow, like and engage with your customers on the platform. The more you engage, the more engagement your profile will get.
3. Encourage user-generated content in your bar by making it super easy for people to post. i.e. use a strange glass for a specific cocktail or include a funky piece of furniture.
How to use Twitter
Twitter is still a very popular social platform, but it’s difficult to build a following and get engagement. But this doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its place in your bar’s social media plan.
Twitter is very useful for handling customer complaints, sharing big news updates and generally keeping your followers informed.
Certain members of the community are extremely active on Twitter, such as journalists and content creators. It’s a very useful platform for curating relationships for press and links for SEO.
The best way to use Twitter is by scheduling in your Tweets using Hootsuite. You can share your best content and schedule the Tweets in for the best times. Twitter then doesn’t need to take up too much of your time.
Instead of spending too much time coming up with Tweets that won’t get much engagement, you should put more of your time into creating relationships with influencers, press and SEO writers.
The easiest way to do this is by following the right people, adding them to a list and engaging with them on a daily basis.
Twitter is a bit like marmite. Some people absolutely love it and some people hate it.
Because it’s very wordy (140 characters per Tweet), it’s easy to understand why some people aren’t fans when there are so many other visual orientated platforms available.
The benefit of Twitter is that those who are active on it are actually great people to get spreading the word about your bar.
Their userbase is a real mix of young people and older. We don’t advise you concentrate on Twitter in terms of increasing your customer base, but instead use it for connecting with key local people who might be able to bring you customers in terms of press or SEO articles.
1. Use Hootsuite to schedule your Tweets so you’re always active. Don’t spend too much time creating amazing Tweets because they won’t get good engagement anyway
2. Create different lists for key people. Have one list for local press, one list for content creators and one list for local influencers.
3. Like, retweet and reply to these key people’s Tweets and have a goal of what you’d like them to do.
4. Once a relationship has been established, reach out and ask for what you want, e.g. an article.
How to use Snapchat
Snapchat is predominantly used by the younger generation, millennials and Gen-Z. Engagement for brands and businesses plummeted when Instagram introduced Instagram stories (or stole, more like).
There’s not much point of your bar having an actual account and sharing content (waste of resources).
Instead, you should use it in other ways.
First, if you have the budget you can create a geo-filter for your bar. This means that when someone is in your bar and they decide to do a snapchat, your filter will be available for them to use.
This can be extremely powerful for brand awareness because you can reach their friends with your filter.
The way it works is that you set a radius around your bar and then design the filter you want to use. It’s super easy to setup, but you have to pay a fee each time it’s used.
You can also use Snapchat ads, their basic location-based ad. You simply choose your ad, target audience and location. This will then appear when people view each other’s stories.
Millennials and Gen-Z use Snapchat and these are your future customers.
They use it mainly to send messages to each other that disappear after it’s been used. But there are other placements your bar can feature.
1. Create a really cool/funny geo-filter and set the radius around your bar. Gen-z and millennials are your future customers so putting in effort here could work.
2. Similar to your Instagram strategy, you need to encourage user-generated content. The easiest way to do this is by creating photo ops in your bar.
3. Speak to your customers who are 18-21 and ask them what they’d Snap in your bar. The best ideas will come from the users of the platform itself.
4. Try Snapchat ads, they are actually incredibly cheap compared to Facebook and Instagram.
How to use Pinterest
Pinterest is a small to medium sized social media platform that’s extremely visual.
People create ‘boards’ and ‘pin’ photos to them. It’s like an online mood board. Extremely useful for wish lists and storytelling.
In terms of social marketing for bars, Pinterest is a tricky one to decide whether it’s worth the time and effort.
The big advantage is that it doesn’t have to take up too much of your time. You simply ‘pin’ your best content to your board and that’s pretty much it. You can then be found by potential customers.
Another advantage is that it’s unlikely that your competition is going to be using Pinterest. That means your bar can stand out and get a competitive advantage.
Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have so much noise, you have to work hard to stand out.
Another advantage to Pinterest is that it’s largely used by females (80%+ in fact).
So, if you need more girls attending your bar (to get a good ratio), then Pinterest might be a really good platform for you to consider.
1. Create a profile and ‘pin’ your best visual content. The better the post, the more likely it is to get re-pinned by other boards.
2. Don’t bother with Pinterest if your content is average or getting more females isn’t an objective.
How to use Tik Tok
Tik Tok has taken the world by storm and is actually the world’s most downloaded app, above Facebook and Instagram.
Love it or hate it, they now have a huge userbase and it does need to be considered in your bar’s social media marketing plan.
Tik Tok is all about creating incredible video content, and Tik Tok help users do this with filters and features to make video editing enjoyable for everyone.
The first step is to create an account and create amazing videos. The easiest way to do this is by searching what ‘trends’ are popular at the moment and creating your own video based on this theme.
Tik Tok have trends, and these are videos everyone tries with their own spin. For example, the tabletop challenge was a huge trend.
Two people basically interlock and create a table using their bodies. For some reason, this went viral on Tik Tok and this sort of video is so easy for your bar to try with your staff or customers.
Once your video goes live, it’ll be automatically shown to thousands of users on Tik Tok due to a scrollable and addictive feed.
The second way you can use Instagram is by asking your staff, customers and influencers to create videos in your bar to upload on their profiles.
This takes away the added annoyance of having to create the videos yourself and instead you can reach people’s friendship groups easily and quickly.
Tik Tok ads can also be considered, but these are extremely expensive.
Tik Tok’s audience
Tik Tok’s audience used to be extremely young people. But now it’s caught on to the masses so you can reach pretty much everyone on the platform.
Tik Tok tips
1. Don’t expect floods of customers to come to your bar via Tik Tok. Instead use it to create fun videos with your staff and customers to build strong rapport. New customers will just be a bonus.
2. Keep an eye out for trends that have good synergy with your bar. A lot of them are dance related so if you have any talented staff members, ask them to get their dancing shoes on.
3. Think outside the box. Tik Tok rewards creativity. The more original the videos are, the more likely you are to go viral.
How to use Bloc
Bloc is a social events platform where users can check-in to your bar, be rewarded for going and also connect with other users who are also checked in.
Your bar is already on the platform ready to be checked into as every venue in the world is on there.
Users simply check-in and then using geo-location, if they go to your bar, they are rewarded stars. Once they have a certain number of stars, they can exchange them for real money. Bloc literally pays people to go to venues.
You can increase the number of check-ins and customers to your bar by creating an ad. The ads push your venue to every Bloc user within 10 miles of the venue.
It’s the only advertising platform where you pay for your perfect result. You’re only charged if they attend your bar, and this is tracked using geo-location.
Bloc’s audience is 18-30 and is perfect for location-based advertising.
The most engaged audience on the app are 18-25 professionals, who are actively looking to attend venues and meet people, so they are your perfect audience.
1. Try Bloc ads with £150 ad credit (75 free customers) and reach your perfect audience.
2. Encourage your customers to check-in to your bar. The more check-ins your bar has, the more popular it will appear on Bloc
3. When creating your ad, use sales hooks to encourage people to go, e.g. 2-4-1 cocktails.
3. What to post about
Creating good content is the key to success when it comes to social media marketing for bars.
The best rule to stick to is to only upload amazing content. If it’s average, don’t bother posting it. It’s better to not post than to post bad content.
When you post always encourage engagement by asking questions. You need to generally care and get your customers/followers heavily involved on your platforms.
Here are some ideas of what you can post about:
– Competitions, with the prize being free drinks or food in your bar. People love giveaways and competition posts will get engaged with, a lot.
– Show off your staff. Introduce your staff, they should be like family and should be your main advocates.
– Upcoming events. Showcase what events are coming up so everyone is in the know.
– Use themes. Tell your followers about upcoming holidays like St Patrick’s day and what your plans are.
– Discounts and promotions. Let your followers know what to expect in the coming weeks.
When deciding whether a piece of content is good enough to be uploaded, ask yourself whether it adds value to your followers or customers. If it doesn’t, then don’t bother with it.
4. When to post
Deciding on when the best time to post is imperative for making sure your audience actually sees your content.
Think carefully when your customers and followers are online and when they will actually care about the piece of content you’re uploading.
For example, posting about an alcoholic drink’s promotion on a Monday morning probably wouldn’t be right as no one will care then. But posting at 4pm on a Friday whilst people are stuck in an office, who can’t wait to go to the bar, might be perfectly timed.
Create a content calendar and use Hootsuite to schedule your content.
It’s best you don’t do it manually as the best times to post are probably when you’ll be at your busiest.
5. How to increase engagement
If you research and find your bar’s competition’s social media accounts, the majority of them will be active but with no or little engagement.
Engagement is the most important aspect of social media marketing for bars, but it’s also incredibly difficult to get.
The first step is to stop worrying about your followers count, and instead care about how many people are engaging with your posts. ‘Liking’ is also pretty irrelevant, engagement should be measured by conversation so therefore the number of ‘comments is the most important stat.
Increasing engagement on your own accounts is actually pretty straightforward. All you need to do is encourage engagement by commenting on your own posts and other people’s.
When you get a comment on one of your posts, don’t just reply with emojis, ask further questions and start conversations.
Think of your social media accounts as a place to get to know your customers, not just a platform for marketing and showing ads.
As soon as you make this switch, you’ll find your social media will pay dividends in terms of new customers and fans of your bar.
6. Location-based advertising
Social media is powerful because every platform offers its own unique advertising opportunities.
The key benefit is that you can choose to target locally to your bar.
There’s no point in your bar taking out a national newspaper advert when only less than 0.0001% are within 10 miles of your bar.
Location based advertising allows you to target your perfect customers, which means you can get the most out of your marketing budget.
When deciding on the radius of your ads, be realistic. The closer someone lives to your bar, the more likely they are to come.
When it comes to engaging with your followers and people in the local area. Don’t waste your time on people who wouldn’t realistically attend your bar.
Build relationships and pour your resources into people in your local community. This way you’ll get the biggest returns on your time related investment.
7. User-generated content
User-generated content is content created by your customers. It’s incredibly powerful for social proofing, content building and for relationship building.
You can find user-generated content on Instagram by searching for particular hashtags related to your bar and by clicking your bar’s location. If a user has tagged the location, then this content will appear under your bar’s name.
It’s incredibly important for social proofing because people notice when a venue is being talked about a lot. If people keep taking photos in your bar and uploading them to Instagram, then you’ll appear more popular and even more people will want to go.
Similarly, user-generated content is incredibly useful for your own content planner. Your best content is probably going to be user-generated content, because you can show off people enjoying your bar.
Simply re-post user-generated on your feed and make sure you credit the person who took it in the caption.
You can encourage user-generated content by making your bar photo worthy and by introducing photo ops in your bar.
You should also encourage people to use unique hashtags by placing them around your bar, so you can easily find the content later.
Lastly, user-generated content is incredibly powerful for building relationships with your customers.
As soon as someone uploads content from your bar, interact and engage on it to build rapport with your customers. This will encourage them to upload even more content in the future and do wonders for your brand awareness.
User-generated is incredibly effective, so encourage it.
Influencer marketing has become huge in recent years. More and more brands are heavily relying on it to increase sales and brand awareness. For any social media marketing for bars, influencers should be included.
Compared to an ad created and pushed by the company itself, influencer marketing is powerful because it works the same way as a referral.
If someone sees an ad at a train station, promoting Jamaica for example, it’s likely going to be ignored by most people. But if an influencer goes to Jamaica and recommends it to their followers, it’s far more effective.
Influencer marketing isn’t just for big brands like Nike either. It can work incredibly well for your bar as well.
An influencer is anyone who has a following on a social media platform like Instagram or Twitter. The best ones have followers on all platforms, including YouTube.
The first thing to think about is whether you can get a big influencer to your bar. This may be tricky if your bar isn’t located where influencers usually live.
But if you do happen to live somewhere where a big influencer lives, then getting them to visit your bar (and post about it) could really put your bar on the map and keep customers coming in thick and fast for a long time.
Sometimes the influencer doesn’t even have to post about it for influencer marketing to be effective.
For example, Prince Harry visited a bar in Fulham called ‘The Brook House’ and although he didn’t mention it on his social networks, the press caught wind of it and wrote about it, hitting the headlines of all the major newspapers.
If getting a big influencer to your bar is unrealistic, whether for geographic or financial reasons, you can still benefit from influencer marketing.
Micro-influencers have become extremely popular.
Some brands believe that 1000 small influencers are more powerful than 1 big one. Small influencers are easier to find and more likely to visit your bar.
You can find local micro-influencers for your bar by searching certain hashtags on Instagram, scanning local business’s followers and by asking your customers.
Your customers are actually a really good starting point because they are already aware of your bar and have visited before.
Encourage your customers to post user-generated content and find these posts. Look out for people who comment, like and follow these people. You might find that some have over 1000 followers, making them a micro-influencer.
Simply reach out and try and get them to your bar, by invitation. A lot of them will do a post for a free drink! A win-win for you both.
Social media marketing for bars is extremely powerful. But the biggest trick for winning is always referring back to the analytics and finding out whether it’s actually working for your brand.
Most of these platforms have their own analytic platforms so you can see the exact stats.
If you’re spending on ads then you need to make sure that the spend is actually resulting in customers, physically spending in your bar.
A click, impression or visit to your website doesn’t mean anything. A result is someone in your bar spending.
This is why Bloc is very different to the other social media platforms. Not only do you only pay for your perfect result (someone in your bar spending), it’s risk-free because a check-in only counts if they are tracked using geo-location.
Concentrate on the analytics and social media marketing for bars can be incredibly effective.
That concludes our guide to social media marketing for bars. We hope you can create an effective strategy for your bar that converts like crazy.