restaurant marketing strategies for instagram

We live in a world where the choices we make about what to do and where to go are largely shifting to the digital world, even when it comes to deciding on which bar to hit up for happy hour. In the 21st century, customers don’t expect to find out about nightlife promotions from fliers or ads in papers, but from restaurant social media posts on well-managed Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.

As Jade Bailey-Assan told Nightclub & Bar, “Social media is increasingly augmenting traditional ways of promoting events and venues” because “more and more aspects of our lives occur online.”

But we didn’t have to tell you that, did we? The problem is that plenty of bar owners know that social media is important, but few know where to start. When it comes to social media management for bars, there are a handful of spots that are hitting it out of the park. You can start by emulating some of what they do and make it your own over time once you start to get the hang of it. Before you know it, you’ll be killing it on social media.

Here are three examples of social media for bars:

Buffalo Wild Wings

Sprout Social considers the chain brand to be winning on Instagram because it “uses the limited Instagram bio space to speak directly to their customer.” Another way that Buffalo Wild Wings slays is by prominently featuring their central offering—chicken wings—not only in a majority of their photos, but also getting right to the point and mentioning it in their bio as well. There’s no confusion about what you’ll find there: wings, beer, sports. Their social media strategy drills that point home so the next time users think of one of those three things, it will automatically be associated with BWW.

 

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Leg day.

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Toronto’s Bier Markt

This Canadian-based but German-focused bar and restaurant uses what Restaurant Engine calls “poetic Facebook posts” to proclaim their love for the beer that customers will find there in their social media strategy. Some social media posts feel straight up like you’re being marketed to, and there are posts that make people feel like they’ve found a new bar that just gets them—Bier Markt’s approach falls squarely into the latter. Of course it is a marketing strategy, but it doesn’t make their page’s visitors feel that way. Plus, if one beer lover stumbles upon a post they love, they’re likely to share it with their fellow beer-loving friends. And if that beer-loving person who found your post is on her way to a meetup for beer lovers that night and she shares it with all of her like-minded friends, your post has just taken off with no extra effort from you or your social media team.

Applebee’s

As Econsultancy writes, Applebee’s has recognized how important a stellar Instagram presence is and now utilizes it as the keystone of its marketing strategy. In launching what it called a “Fantographer” campaign, the chain encouraged diners to upload their own photos of their meals, drinks, and all around Applebee’s experience for the chance to be re-grammed on Applebee’s page. “The campaign cleverly tapped into the popularity of ‘food porn’ pics as well as the audience’s desire to get involved, with user-generated content also helping further brand advocacy,” Econsultancy writes.

 

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Cajun Pasta with Blackened Shrimp is so fab, drinks sweat just standing next to it.

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How to Start Social Media for Your Bar

Now that you have some stellar examples under your belt, it’s time to get started yourself. Here are five tips and tricks that will help cover every base to get your social media strategy off the ground on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

1. Post your events everywhere.

Ever wonder why your “Lost Series Finale Party” never worked out, or why you only get a couple regulars to show up for your trivia nights? More likely than not, it’s because people didn’t know about them. You can never count on word-of-mouth marketing and outdoor signage when people spend so much time using the web to find out what’s going on in their area.

Before posting to social media, make sure you first get added to any area event listing websites. If you have a regular event, like karaoke every Tuesday, or Jazz Night every Friday, most local calendars will keep you posted on a regular basis.

Once you’ve got that covered, take it to social networks, and share with your followers regularly, both in advance of the event and the day of.

2. Don’t neglect your loyalists. Let people “check in.”

Restaurants can allow guests to “check-in” on their mobile devices when they visit. Make sure your place has a presence on every social platform, so whenever people want to let their group of friends know they’re at your place, they can.

When you join any of these programs, you can start offering specials to the people who check in the most. For example, FourSquare dubs people “the mayor” of an establishment if they’ve checked in more than anyone else. Many restaurants offer, say, a free drink or a free burger to the mayor of their establishment. This encourages customer loyalty and repeat visits.

Not sure which to pick? We breakdown where to invest your time on social media. Learn more here.

guest taking photo of food for instagram

3. Post photos and encourage interaction on Facebook.

On your Facebook page, you should definitely post photos from your events and tag people you know in the photos. It’s not just for social reasons, but also so that your photos end up in the feeds of all the people you’re tagging. For the people who don’t know about your bar, a couple fun photos from one karaoke night could seriously increase attendance the following week.

4. Post videos on Instagram and Facebook.

So let’s go back to the karaoke night idea again. Consider recording short clips from the night, even just on your phone. Then try piecing it together for something like a “March Karaoke Night in 60 Seconds.” Avoid any clips that would embarrass the people singing, of course, but be sure to capture any fun and silliness.

This idea is transferable to any type of event. As long as it’s short and makes your event nights look fun, the people will follow.

5. Use Twitter to promote events and bring in new customers.

Twitter is a huge social playground that only requires as much effort as you care to put into it. You get credit just for signing up because once you have a username, your customers can start linking to you in their own tweets.

More importantly, the benefit of the retweet is that once you have a loyal list of followers, will become beneficial to you in driving new customers into your bar. With minimal effort on your end, you can tweet specials, like 10-cent wings. You can even schedule tweets ahead of time so you aren’t rushed to post.

However, you can go above and beyond by reaching out to people in the area and becoming a little more like Cheers, where you’re recognizing your new Twitter friends when they come in for a beer.

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Cinnamon is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and journalist who paid a large part of her way through college and graduate school by serving. Her work has been published with outlets like National Geographic, the Washington Post, Pacific Standard, and more. You can read more about her at www.cinnamon-janzer.com.