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Targeting the social media scene

By James Evison , 11-Feb-2016
Last updated on 11-Feb-2016 at 16:31 GMT2016-02-11T16:31:55Z

Targeting the social media scene

How to effectively use social media to promote your venue is often seen as the trickiest aspect of marketing. The Publican’s Morning Advertiser (PMA) web editor James Evison takes a look at some fresh and creative examples of how best to approach these digital avenues

It’s the perennial concern of the modern aspirational licensee — do I need a Twitter or Instagram account? The answer is a definite ‘yes’, but merely signing up for these digital marketing avenues is only 1% of the work. It’s the 99% of content that you choose to fill other users’ ‘feeds’ with that will determine the success.

Other PMA #DigiPubs campaign stories:

Building your following

One of the biggest mistakes that first-time social media users make is trying to build an audience.

Don’t worry about numbers. It’s who is following you that matters — and how engaged with your messages they appear to be. You want to increase footfall and also exposure of your brand locally — ie, you want to use it to make money — so having a series of American craft brewers following you may boost the ego, but is unlikely to add many customers.

For example, are local papers, associations and groups following you? Is the biggest hyperlocal website engaging with you? Use Twitter, Google and other search engines, to find local influencers. Check their accounts and add followers of local newspaper social accounts. Chances are if they follow a local paper, they are local to you and a potential customer.


As for influencers, introduce yourself by sending them a tweet or even a direct message, and make sure to stay in contact regarding offers and activity like beer festivals or charity events or any promotional work you are doing around the venue.

Create a basic ‘social strategy’ for the year on an Excel spreadsheet. Put content to use on social platforms against key events. For example, Valentine’s Day, the Euro 2016 football tournament and Father’s Day. This will ensure you are always visible online and always feeding your customers with relevant information.

Audience engagement

Personality is key for success in the social media universe. One of the UK’s most popular and idiosyncratic hospitality Twitter accounts is the Dalston kebab shop, Mangal 2, in east London. Its twitter handle is used mainly for comic effect, and rarely promotes any food offers. But its reach is wide, and due to its creativity, it has been written about in local and even national newspapers.

So how does it do it? The restaurant uses its profile to engage with current Twitter trends and to make jokes that can be easily shared. For example, during the recent ‘Deadline Day’ end of the football transfer window, which was a trending topic, it tweeted: ‘SPOTTED: Reported Mangal 2 target, legendary 14-year-old Cypriot waiter Hamza Mumza’.


Although this is an extreme example of social media use, it illustrates a important point. Do not use Twitter or other social avenues for bland marketing messages. Keep it light and fun. We all hate spam emails and marketing messages so ensure that you are not delivering any.

Heineken social media manager Claire Jerrold says: “Regardless of channel, to gain and maintain the interest of social media followers, the content has to be up to scratch. Quality trumps quantity. It’s better to post a few well-thought-out updates than irritate followers with irrelevant or repetitive content. The best social media content is engaging, relevant and timely.

“Images and videos can improve a post’s performance and reach noticeably, so always try to include multimedia content like this where possible.”

Brewing up a storm

One of the big hitters, socially, in the pub universe is BrewDog.


Some may scoff at its social media use — and always being the outspoken critic — but it is one of the core foundation stones of its success. Here the marketing team exclusively gives the PMA its views on social media:

Q. How do you use social media to engage with your customers?

A. Our mission is to make people as passionate about great craft beer as we are, and our strategy is to reduce the distance between the people who make our beer and the people who drink it. Social media is the ideal vehicle for this strategy, making it easy to involve our followers and offer them exclusive access to what we’re doing.

Social media works both ways, we’re all ears to new ideas, locations or if something isn’t quite right and, in turn, we tell our communities about new beers on the brew, updates on Equity For Punks, and where they can get their nearest Punk IPA.

Q. How much does the philosophy of BrewDog and disruptive marketing run through the strategy?

A. Our whole philosophy is punk mentality — throwing out the rule book and doing what feels right. This is echoed on our social media feeds. There’s no censorship, no ‘these are my own opinions’ rules for our staff — it’s an open forum for all.

We say what we mean, no holds barred, and we welcome the same back.

Q. How much autonomy do bars have and what advice are they given on using Twitter/Instagram, etc., from HQ?

A. Our venues’ social feeds are run by the teams in our bars. We chose the people in our bars because they’ve got crazy beer knowledge and love chatting to beer fans. They have this exact same personality on social, which works out pretty well. No special training is needed.

We provide guidance and insight from in-house experts to offer top-notch suggestions on how best to use platforms, how to take photos, and how to make the most of hashtags, but they’re encouraged to evolve their own voices and approach so they don’t become cookie-cutters, disengaging broadcast channels.

Angry customers

Imagine this scenario — a worst nightmare: it is opening night and all is going well. You’ve served 100 needy customers, all of whom you’ve assumed left happy.

Then a ‘mention’ update drops on to your Twitter account. It’s an irate customer telling the whole world how awful the food is — and there is an incriminating image of a raw burger to go with it. A local reporter has replied to the tweet requesting details.

What you do next could define the success of your pub. This is the power of social media.

But by following a clear set of actions, crisis can be averted every time one of these inevitable tweets occurs.

  • Make sure a set of easy-to-follow rules is kept for all staff to use.
  • Decide a basic message for both positive and negative responses.
  • Where the response needs to be personalised, create a series of action points to go through for staff to follow, ensuring an incorrect response is never given by a manager going ‘off piste’.

Heineken social media manager Claire Jerrold says: “While Twitter doesn’t have as many users as Facebook, it is hugely popular among 18 to 34-year-olds so, if you’re not making use of Twitter, you could be missing out on opportunities with key consumers.

“Everything you post is visible to your followers, regardless of spend, and content can easily be discovered by users who aren’t following you through popular hashtags such as sporting events and current trends.”

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