How to Get Your Self-Pour Bar or Restaurant More Visibility Online?
Attract New Customers & Create Brand Awareness
Currently, the shift to online sales has been helping many restaurants stay afloat. Without a social presence in today’s world, your bar or restaurant will not survive. With 2.95 billion people active on social media in 2019, it is crucial that you are active on platforms where your customers are.
These days, the guests are often looking up businesses on platforms like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google or even more common social media such as Facebook and Instagram to check what the business’ offerings are. Do you offer takeout and delivery? Are you taking reservations? Do you offer live weekly events? If your customers can’t find the answers to these questions online, they won’t be inclined to come and give it a try for the first time or support your business as your regulars. Not to mention, you are losing on a big opportunity here.
As a bar or restaurant, increasing your brand’s visibility online is key to the success of your business. So, it is important that you take the time to build your brand online. There are many ways to increase engagement, spread the word about your business and boost sales via an online presence.
In a world where word-of-mouth travels incredibly fast, online reviews can have a lasting impact on your business. According to a BrightLocal survey, 82% of customers read online reviews for local businesses with 52% of 18 to 54-year-olds saying they always read reviews. So as you can tell, what your customers say in their online reviews of your business really does matter.
The four most commonly used online review platforms are Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. While many people use these review platforms to vent and feel heard when sharing their negative experiences, many patrons and diners also want to share the great time they have had and this is where you or your staff come in. You want to encourage these happy guests to share their positive experiences online. Since your customers have such a strong influence on your online reviews, ask them for feedback (if you can afford it, incentivize it, too!).
Ideally, your website should have software that asks your customers about their experience right away, and based on this feedback, every happy customer should be automatically redirected to one of the online review platforms mentioned above.
There, they will be able to leave a review and rate their experience with your establishment. The reason why you want to drive the review there is simple – that is where your reviews are going to get the visibility that really matters and make the difference in terms of your traffic and the right exposure online.
If you do get negative reviews, you should handle them privately by direct messaging the customers and offering them a solution. This will show that you are willing to listen and make changes. No matter what, make sure you are staying active online and reading the reviews that are out there. After all, you want to make your business the best it can be.
In the last decade, social media has dramatically changed the dining scene. As of 2019, Statista reports that 2.95 billion people were active on social media and it is projected that this number will increase to 3.43 billion people by 2023. We are currently living in the age of social media, as shown by the numbers above, so it is important that you take the time to build your self-pour bar or restaurant’s brand online.
If you are new to the world of social media, it can be quite overwhelming. From Instagram and Facebook to LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, and now also Tik Tok, there are several channels that you can be active on. The question becomes: how do you reach your desired target audience and how do you market your business online?
When first starting out, Facebook and Instagram will be key in developing your online presence. According to Sprout Social, there are 371 million food Instagrams with the tag ‘#food’ and 41 million with the tag ‘#drinks.’ In today’s world, users like to see visuals before buying something and the same goes for food. More often than not, a potential customer will search for your bar or restaurant on social media before making the decision to eat or drink at your establishment.
So, how do you play your social media game right?
Hashtags present a great tool for gaining more visibility in front of your already established audience or to reach a bigger target market since you can be as broad or defined as you would like. For example, if your bar or restaurant specializes in beer and pizza, you could use a broad hashtag such as #pizzaandbeer, or if you want to target users looking specifically for your establishment use your business’s name as a hashtag. Regardless of whether you choose to use broad or defined hashtags, they will help build your brand’s awareness and discoverability among social media users.
It’s also a great idea to make a personalized hashtag. You can promote this hashtag around your taproom with signage and graphics. Having a hashtag that’s unique to your business is a great way to differentiate your business from others and express your business’s unique personality in a fun and modern way.
You want to post pictures that make your drinks and dishes look irresistible. If your pictures don’t entice your audience, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice online. You should also post videos on your feed of staff members and customers. You can embed them from YouTube to your site, use them all across social platforms, or even in email efforts.
Showcase your awesome menu – food is visual! And you should try to make it extra visual for your social media game – keep in mind that you might not want to be posting about a trendy, heavy beer at 9 AM in the morning when people are less likely to want to run to your bar and try one. The same goes for your new lunch item, probably not the best idea to post that late at night.
Another effective way to increase your visibility online is to create and post about different contests and promotions. For example, you can post a photo on Facebook or Instagram of your most popular dish with some drinks next to a few gift cards. Write a caption that makes people want to join in the fun. Ask your followers to tag three people for the chance to be entered to win a $50 gift card to your bar or restaurant.
Not only will this create interaction between your business and your customers, but you will also reach a new audience when people tag their friends. You can also have exclusive offers for followers or site visitors. Yelp allows customers to ‘check-in’ and you can offer a discount to customers who check-in when they’re dining at your establishment as this will help boost your brand awareness.
It is not only the decoration, branding, and your social media presence that will impact how your guests will treat your establishment on their social media channels, it is also greatly affected by the experience they are getting as well.
Whether that is the speed of service, feeling of uniqueness, or appreciation, each of these factors plays a role in how likely your guests are to create user-generated content for you.
Here we’ll breakdown how to interact with your audience online:
Interact with them! Engagement is the key. If they comment something under your post or tag you in their post (even if it is negative), don’t stay quiet! Make sure to engage with them to show that there is someone on the other end ready to make the conversation happen and improve things if needed or just show appreciation (in the case of positive user-generated content).
And if your customers post photos of your bar or restaurant – repost it! This will encourage customers to keep posting user-generated content for you.
Give your fans extra shoutouts – reshare user-generated content or take a picture of them enjoying their time at your restaurant or bar and tag them! Your followers will appreciate seeing people enjoying their time at your establishment – it makes your brand feel more approachable.
Share a special insight. For example, share more details about a customer’s favorite bartender or server. You can write little testimonials from your customers to provide more background and detail about your staff.
To be more specific, it is not just a website that you need to consider, but also your search engine optimization known as SEO. SEO is a digital marketing strategy that helps to structure your website’s content in a way that allows fast and easy discoverability when a potential customer makes a search online. Your branding should be reflected in both SEO as well as on your website and for the purposes of this blog post, we will treat SEO as an (online) door to your restaurant.
Let’s start with the website itself…
Would you be comfortable if your guests came to your establishment and had a hard time figuring out if they should wait for the hostess or simply seat themselves, never received a menu, and they weren’t able to decide if this is the place they actually want to dine at? Just like at your physical location, this is what your guests are expecting to easily determine when they visit you online. Thus, you need to give them the information they are looking for and make it as fast and simple as possible for them to find it.
This brings us to search engine optimization and why is it so important…
The Internet has dramatically changed the way people explore new places to eat and drink. Before the age of social media, people walked down the street and chose where they wanted to dine based on the outside or “door look”; these days things work a bit differently.
According to SinglePlatform, 75% of people make a decision based on search results when it comes to choosing a restaurant. Let’s translate SEO as a door analogy – would you be comfortable having a dirty and rusty door at the main entrance to your establishment? Would you want your establishment to be hidden in the side alley without any promotional signage? What do you think your chances of being discovered by new customers would be?
The ultimate goal of your search engine optimization is that your site will be showing as the first relevant organic result, at the top of the page with results.
TIP: If another authoritative website ever wrote an article about your business or had an interview with you, try to see if they could link this content piece back to your website as that will not only help you with more traffic coming from visitors reading that piece but it will also give a boost to your website in the search result page.
Although it may not be a common thought of many bar or restaurant owners, having a blog (if done well) for your business can significantly increase your credibility and visibility online. When developing your blog, you must first determine who is going to curate and write content. Next, you’ll want to consider the different avenues you want to take. Do you want to post recipes for your cocktails? Talk about the local food in the area? Or maybe have guest writers? All of these are important questions to think about prior to first starting your blog. You want to make sure you have a set path, otherwise, the blog can become overwhelming and it will be difficult to source content.
When writing blog posts, you want them to engage with the customer. Add your social buttons at the bottom of the post to ensure that they can access your social links! You also want your posts to be succinct and to the point, otherwise the reader can get distracted.
It’s important that you maintain a clear brand voice throughout each of your blog posts no matter who is writing them. You want customers to feel like you’re approachable and welcoming, so try your best to identify with them! This will go a long way in the success of your blog.
Now you’re ready to start blogging away!
As defined by Sprout Social, influencers are individuals who have a dedicated following and are viewed as experts within their niche. Over the last few years, influencer marketing has taken on a world of its own. Influencers have developed a strong social presence and have a following of people who trust in their brand – so it only makes sense to use influencers to boost your brand in front of a bigger audience.
Finding the Right Influencers
Once you’ve determined that influencer marketing is a route that you want to pursue, it is important to do research to find the influencers who best fit your brand. You’ll want to reach out to influencers who are in your area and visible in front of your desired target audience.
But it’s important to remember, influencers are not free. Depending on how big their following is, it can be quite a hefty fee. Consider looking at micro-influencers since they have a smaller following and don’t cost as much as bigger influencers – and they can even create more engagement and awareness for your business.
Both your business and the influencers you select have very distinct brand voices. You want to make sure that you’re choosing influencers who have a similar style to your brand. Now, that you’ve decided who you want to promote your business, it’s time to start reaching out. Look at their bio and see if they have an email for inquiries – if not, private message them directly and ask about opportunities to work together.
Don’t be discouraged if you receive a lot of “no’s” at first. But keep pushing through! You will eventually find influencers who will want to help you promote your brand and it’ll be worth it.
Traditional Public Relations
Getting some initial press releases out about the opening of your establishment is an excellent way to increase awareness of your establishment in the community, particularly in the local press. Depending on the type of venue you are opening, it might also be a good idea to consider choosing an appropriate magazine/newspaper whose primary reader base consists of people you’ll want to attract to your venue. Also, be sure to include key selling points about your establishment in your press release as these will entice customers to stop by.
If you are a PourMyBeer family member and looking for help with getting the word out about your self-pour setup and your offering, email our marketing team at email@example.com and we will be happy to help!
Partnerships with Local Organizations
This is especially important and a great opportunity that shouldn’t be missed in bigger cities and touristy areas. Lookup businesses online that offer bus, segway, walking, history, or any other type of tours around local establishments and explore how you can become a part of it. This will help boost awareness and also create some credibility with locals, which could ultimately spread positive word of mouth and more helpful online reviews. Yep, you got it, it is all one big magical circle!
Supporting your regulars back just as they continue to support you is crucial! A great way you can do this is to offer promotions to your local community. Local residents and organizations will appreciate that you are recognizing and acknowledging them. You can also host events with local organizations to promote more than one business! This is an awesome way to foster a sense of community around your business.
How you choose to market your business online is up to you. As long as you are making an effort and putting your brand out there, people will be supportive. They’ll want to come and taste your new menu offerings and sip on your drinks. Remember to be creative, try new things and have fun with it!