What does Social Media Marketing Mean for Bars and Restaurants?
I was recently asked by a good friend and consulting client of mine,” what was the point of all this ‘Social Media Marketing buzz'”, he was hearing about in the industry publications. I was surprised at first, but after some thought I realized, that most F&B professionals probably aren’t knowledgeable about Social Media Marketing. I should have known that based on the high number of establishments that do not have Facebook accounts. I was asked by another customer of mine whether or not I thought that SMM had specific application to Bars and Restaurants, or maybe more accurately “whether or not Social Media Marketing was as good for independent bars and restaurants as it was for national chains”. In the next few articles I will endeavor to explain exactly what SMM is in relation specifically to Restaurants and Bars.
First we need to understand what Social Media Marketing is:
If the nature of social media is a ” form of communication that is social in nature” and, marketing is “the action or business of promoting or selling products or services”. Then Social Media Marketing (SMM) is basically, ” using social forms of communication to promote or sell products or services.”
Before the days of Facebook and Twitter most of us in the F&B trade used to refer to social media marketing as word-of-mouth advertising, and after somebody left our establishment with a positive experience we used to pray to restaurant gods, that they would tell their friends.With social media all that changes.
What I’m not sure many bar owners, restaurant owners, and managers realize, is that the customer conversation is no longer just a verbal exchange that we would have no effect on, but has moved to a virtual exchange, one in which, the establishment owners can contribute. One of the main advantages about this “conversation” moving to the virtual world is that you can continue to participate in a customers experience and the way they share that experience long after they leave your establishment.
Being able to engage with and continue to influence your customers directly, whether or not they are in your establishment, is the basis for all the rest of social media marketing.
Let’s look at the broad goals of Social Media Marketing in relation to Bars and Restaurants:
Perhaps a better way to understand SMM it would be to understand the 6 main goals of SMM and how they would be applied to a bar or restaurant. The main goals are:
- 1. Creating Brand Awareness (for your specific location )
- 2: Reputation Management
- 3: Developing public relations
- 4: Extending your customer service
- 5: Building a community of advocates
- 6: Driving sales and Leads.
Creating Brand Awareness for your specific location- This is important because it will color the few bits of information that most people will be able to hold in their skulls about your bar or restaurant. I say this because people don’t obsess over the business that you run the way you do. They don’t think about it until the moment it’s time to use the service that you offer, by creating a cohesive branding message that 1) Sets you apart from your competition, 2) Links you to a specific location, and 3) promises something to the customer that you can deliver.This combination of messages will influence your customer to pick you over your competitors the majority of the time.
Please take a look at my Example here:
We have Billy Bob’s BBQ Shack and their brand slogan is “Great BBQ Fast!” Before they would want to put that message or slogan into all the online content that they create. they would want to also link that information to a specific location. For conversation’s sake let’s say they are in Columbia, SC. Their online slogan should be ” Great BBQ Fast in Columbia, S.C. They could reinforce their message through the following:
- post their fastest serve times on their blog or tweet them to their followers.
- Using every opportunity they can to reinforce their brand of “Great BBQ Fast in Columbia, SC. “
- They could have a blog about the restaurant that reinforces their locale and fast service
- Their Facebook page would have that tagline on it, as well.
Creating Brand awareness through social media channels has several benefits. My personal favorite is managing customer expectations through branding. If customers know what to expect when they walk in the door, and you are clear about what you can deliver, then you are less likely to have any major customer miscommunications, and more likely to have happy customers.
My second favorite aspect of branding through social media is the ability to segment your branding message based on the channel. For example: If you want to impress the business lunch set then you would be able to emphasize your “Great BBQ fast ” part of your message through whatever forms of social media that they are using, email, blog, website, etc. But if you wanted to emphasize the localness of your message then using your blog or Facebook page to become a community advocate might be the way to go.
The cost of branding through social media channels is also incredibly low when compared with most other forms of media. The return on investment for any branding campaign is hard to measure but with Social Media it is inexpensive enough that not branding is as ridiculous as putting a screen door on a submarine.
Bottom line: There is always a free/inexpensive way to promote your branding message. Branding is one of the major keys to achieving and maintaining your market share. Almost all your marketing campaigns should contain some reference to your main branding message.
Stay tuned for part 2. Reputation Management.