Operators seeking to exploit social media must develop a plan to deliver a story to their customers that is consistent in look and tone, said social media trainer James Wittering and photographer James Greenoff, who have offered their nine tips to Instagram success below.
There are a few simple steps to achieve this the duo told Great British Pub Awards Spirits Pub of the Year finalists at an exclusive Diageo masterclass earlier.
Wittering said: “There are many ways you can use social media to drive sales, but it’s not about you advertising, it’s getting your audience to do the advertising for you."
‘Many ways to drive sales'
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He continued: “There are people on social media known as influencers, so you need to make your posts attractive to them so they share with their follows.”
Pubs can look to use social media in two ways, firstly by using it as a straightforward advertising tool to promote a new menu, offer or drink, Wittering explained.
However, the best way to take advantage of social media is by using it to engage with your audience, offer them something that isn’t an advert.
“You could show them, in a step-by-step video, how to make one of your cocktails and then at the end say something like ‘but if you can’t be bothered to make it yourself, then why not come and have one here’,” Wittering added.
The simplest way to attract attention on social media, such as Instagram, is by delivering beautiful, well-composed images of your offering to the platform, explained Greenoff.
According to the photographer, there are nine steps operators should consider before posting something.
1. Make it square
Think about what the picture will look like when it is posted on social media – if you are using Instagram, it will need to be a square image.
2. Should that be in there?
Consider what needs to be in the picture. Do you need an angry child in the background when you are trying to promote a sophisticated cocktail? Make use of branding on glassware, whether it is the bar’s name or the brand of alcohol.
3. Tell a story
Maintain focus on the drink, but if you can include something in the background to help build the situation in which it will most likely be drunk, such as a busy pub garden, then bring an element of that into it too
4. Use what's around you
Make the most of what you have around you. For example, set your Negroni in front of some Italian architecture or place it near antipasti. Or sell the drink with the scene you can create for your customers.
5. Think before you snap
Is your camera angle helping to tell the right story? Shooting a clear liquid on a white table from above is going to look washed out, but a cappuccino served in a vibrantly-coloured cup would benefit from this angle. The scene in the Instagram picture below works because the drink is in focus, while the rest of the image is out of focus and not as sharp.
6. And then there was light
Use natural light where possible to take a picture. It just looks better. Compare the two Instagram posts below and you will see that a little bit of sunshine can lift a picture to the next level.
7. Which filter?
In short, there isn't a one-size fits all when it comes to filters. If you want to play it safe, then don't use a filter and rely on natural light, good framing and an interesting composition. However, the aim is to have a feed of images that follow a style theme. If you use a filter regularly, then do not mess with the tones as it could make the drink look better or worse than it is. Why is making the drink look better an issue? Well, it's not really a problem, but you should always consider managing your customers' expectations.
8. What time should I post to Instagram?
Monday mornings are a great time to post as most people are looking for a lift to get them through the day. However, 5pm Monday to Thursday is also a great time to post as people are on their way home from work and will check their social media in transit or when they get home.
9. Hashtag #cocktails
Use hashtags to make your post visible to other interested people (#ginoclock) and tag people into the post so they know you’re talking about them. It's an effective way of making your post part of a wider conversation.
However, these 9 tips to Instagram success are just guidelines and according to Wittering: “Something that is important, especially when you are starting out, is testing what does and does not work.
“There are so many filters to test and there’s a busy audience out there that you need to engage.”