Pubs and restaurants are the social hub of many communities. However, to survive in a saturated market, food and drink venues must be able to effectively advertise themselves to new customers. It’s all well and good offering a range of premium drinks, local ales and home-cooked meals – but the key is in ensuring people in your local area know this.
In an increasingly web-driven market, it is vital to find smart and unique marketing ideas for pubs and restaurants. Of course, you need a great looking website and attractive branding, but one of the most powerful marketing tools for restaurants and pubs is social media.
When it’s used effectively, social media can provide huge opportunities to pub and restaurant owners. It provides a platform for your customers, where they can leave reviews and feedback of their experiences, creating a buzz around your venue. Another huge area of potential is the gallery of photos that your customers will create on your behalf. Many of your customers will happily snap and tag photos of your food, drinks and venue decor throughout their visit, before going home and sharing their experience on Instagram and Facebook.
But it’s not simply a matter of creating an account and waiting for your customers to do the hard work for you. It’s important to maximise the potential of social media marketing by employing real insight and expertise.
Social media marketing for pubs and restaurants – the secret to success
Before you get stuck into your social media takeover, it’s important to understand why it’s so valuable to pubs and restaurants. Social media reaches more customers (and potential customers) than any other means, with it being such a firm part of most people’s day-to-day life. Whether your customer base is young and tech-savvy, or the more mature generation looking for reliable recommendations on where to take their friends for a meal, social media is often the first port of call for people looking for a new place to go out.
This means it’s essential to maintain a consistent social media presence. Of course, you don’t have to be active on all channels – many pubs won’t gain a great deal from being on LinkedIn, for example. When it comes to social media for pubs and restaurants, it’s better to master one platform, like Facebook, rather than spreading yourself too thinly across all networks.
Social media ideas for pubs
But how can you get the most out of this endless advertising resource? There is a lot involved in successful social media management, but here are a few marketing ideas for pubs and restaurants to get you started.
Engaging with customers
First and foremost, for restaurants and pubs, social media should be a platform for connecting with customers. After all, your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Display you social tags on wine lists, menus and around your venue, and set up features where anyone wanting to use the free Wi-Fi has to follow you on your chosen platform first, and ‘check-in’ at your venue to do so. You’ll be surprised at how many followers you get straight away by doing this!
Next, create content where you are engaging directly with existing customers. Post photos from shifts, or snapshots of your current specials menu or dishes, and ask your customers about what they’d like to see featured on the menu, for example. When people reply, really interact with them. Soon you’ll find that your regulars are interacting, too, building up an extended community online. Your customers are a rich resource here, so use them. Get them to tweet about you, share photos of them (with permission!) and get them to tag themselves and share your content.
You can also do this with staff. Get all of your employees to tweet when they are on shift, encouraging people to pop by and say ‘hi’. Different employees could even get hashtags going based on their role – chefs could post recipe ideas or information on dietary requirements alongside enticing dish shots, whereas the bar staff could post some of their highlights from each evening, such as funny snippets of conversations they’ve had.
Once you’ve got a group of customers interacting with you on social media, start reposting the best tweets of the week so people feel involved and part of the in-crowd. Another smart tactic is to cater to the snap-happy social media fans among your customer base by creating an area in your venue that is particularly photogenic. Whether this is a feature wall, sign or table decor, a unique and attractive feature will get visitors posing for their Instagram feed in no time. Just remember to have your company name in the shot!
Contests and promotions
Another failsafe marketing idea for restaurants and pubs that guarantees interaction and attention is to run online contests or promotions. At first, this could take the form of offering discount vouchers to everyone who follows you on your chosen platform, or who likes and shares an important post about an upcoming event.
However, you could also get creative and ask guests to caption photos, answer trivia questions about your signature dishes and drinks, or hold a photo contest to get followers really engaged with your brand, with an incentive. Whether the prize is a free drink or something more juicy, this is bound to get people talking about your venue.
Of course, there’s a fine line to tread with any alcohol-based promotion. If you run a happy hour, by all means advertise it on your social media, but make sure that the wording and imagery promotes responsible drinking.
Events are one of the easiest ways to get people talking about your venue online. Whether you run a weekly jam night, host local bands or are hosting a weekly pub quiz, it is essential to shout about it on social media. Create an online leaflet and get customers to share it around for the chance to win free tickets or a free drink. Share photos from the event afterwards so guests can reminisce and tag themselves in the shots.
You can even live-stream events, or set up a live Q&A with a band ahead of the event to get those last-minute visitors flowing through the doors.
One of the best social media tools for restaurants and pubs is video marketing. In fact, 52% of marketing professionals worldwide say video yields the best return on investment for businesses. This is unsurprising when you consider how much can be articulated through just a few minutes of video – from your branding to your ethos, video strongly communicates many important elements and facts about your business.
This is even more powerful for venues such as pubs and restaurants, as there is such a strong visual element associated with them. The type of atmosphere is a huge draw to customers, so commissioning a short video of a lively day at your venue is the perfect way to draw in new visitors and give them a glimpse of what it’s really like. You could film mixologists creating your signature cocktail, people enjoying a meal, or a house band getting the crowd going.
Collaborating with influencers and businesses
When it comes to growing your following online, collaboration is key. By connecting with influential figures in your audience’s circles, or simply joining forces with a complementary local business, you can tap into a wider audience base, gain new followers and, by extension, new customers.
Look for brands or other businesses in your community to hook up with on a promotional event, getting them to share your posts on their social media. Alternatively, invite local food bloggers to visit for a free dinner in return for a review on their blog and social media.
Paid social media advertising
Finally, one of the most effective and time-tested forms of social media marketing for restaurants and pubs is paid social media advertising. Paying for a few high-quality adverts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram allows you to reach your target audience instantly. These adverts are usually either image posts or videos that will show up on people’s feeds. Using social media advertising allows you to monitor your campaign, make changes to maximise performance, and measure ROI using website metrics.
Measuring if marketing works
It is indeed essential to measure your social media strategy to see if your marketing is working. After all, you need to be able to tell if someone saw your ad on Facebook then brought their family to your pub the next day, right? So how do you know exactly what to measure, and, more importantly, how can you tell if it is working or not?
When it comes to these nitty-gritty aspects of social media marketing – in other words, whether your social media presence just looks pretty or whether it’s actually working to increases profits – it is often wise to enlist the help of a social media marketing agency. An agency will have all of the tools at their disposal to track the success of every post and help you craft a social media strategy that will provide real return on investment.
Social media has unparalleled advertising power for pubs and restaurants, but unfortunately, very few businesses actually utilise it to its full potential. Whether this is because of time constraints or a lack of marketing expertise, it is evident that outsourcing your social media management is often the quickest and most sustainable route to success.
At Greener Media, we have helped countless pubs and restaurants use their social media to transform their business success. We offer social media packages from £149+VAT/month, with a ‘cancel anytime’ policy. This means you can reap the benefits of having a full team of social media experts behind your profiles, while you get on with what matters most – running your business. To find out more about how we can help your pub or restaurant thrive online, why not spend a few minutes using our package builder to find a solution that fits within your budget?