Being a social media pub is all about getting creative with your social media
The Pub trade has been hit hard by the recession in recent years. People have less disposable income, are more discerning in how they spend their money and are going out less. Less people means more competition for those that are spending particularly for the all important 18-34-year-olds. Another trouble has been the low alcohol pricing by the supermarkets.
- There are now 10-12% fewer pubs operating in the UK than in 2005, when the 2003 Licensing Act came into force, according to BBPA estimates. Pubs are closing at the rate of 52 a week, meaning that in 2009 alone, around 2,700 pubs will have closed their doors.
- The market is forecast to decline by 7.1% between 2010 and 2015 as long term declines alcohol consumption and out of home drinking continue. (source Mintel)
- People are going out less frequently to pubs and spending less when in them
Even in this tough environment pubs have the opportunity to reinvigorate their standing as social places and so focus on creating experiences. There is the opportunity to engage with technology and social media offline and online to create new ways to interact with target customer segments as well as be creative in marketing tactics.
The pub trade is still dominated by the 18-34 year olds with males being the more frequent drinkers. However, pubs are also looking to attract new customers particularly for the food sector and their is plenty of scope to develop creative ways to target women e.g. The Bitter Sweet Partnership
Pubs should be looking to reduce the barriers and friction to be social e.g. good initiative by Heineken and actively encourage people to be online in their venues by providing free WiFi and give free access.
So first steps need to be to tightly define the target customer segments and the strategy to support the brand and marketing communications. This will depend upon the pub chain and what services they are focusing on e.g. foodservice
If we take the most active target market of 18-34 yr olds how does this demographic overlay with trends, technology and social media use:
- The number of 25-34-year-olds is forecast to see 10.5% growth by 2016, reaching 9.2 million and accounting for 18% of the UK adult population.
- 18-34s are the most frequent pub visitors, however, weekly visits typically drop by the age of 25.
- QR codes are mainly used by males aged 18-34 year old (Smart Insights)
- High penetration and use of smartphones within 18-34 year olds (Google report)
- Highest users of social media usage are 18-34 year olds (women dominate though – Nielsen Report)
- Social networking is most popular on smartphones for women aged 18-34 years (Smartphone usage in Ireland – Infographic)
- 71% of 16- to 24-year-olds using their iPhone or BlackBerry online (Guardian)
Let’s not forget as well that this segment also has the highest adoption rate of smartphones.
How Would I Use Social Media for a Pub Chain?
A growing number of pub chains are already starting to shift their focus to online marketing and social media, but may not know how to really make it work for them. What would 50 or more new customers per month mean to a pub? What would it mean if existing customers shared their positive experience with local friends?
It Is Happening Anyway
Every time someone takes a photo on their phone or uses the internet on their mobile in your pub, they could be mentioning the pubs service, food or experience to all their contacts. So how do you harness these social interactions and create word of mouth marketing?
Central vs. Local
Pub chains have a dilemma of managing a brand centrally but also need local marketing to draw in customers. Additionally pubs need to attract a range of customers and so need to have communications that don’t alienate one group over another. Social media can help develop local communities and marketing – but does require either a highly effective centralised team or training and empowering local management. Of course there are a lot of considerations to take into account in this choice not least of which is size of the estate.
- Central control – JD Weatherspoons aaaa
- De-centralised – See Yates ‘Join Us On Facebook’ you can select a local Facebook page.
- Initially I would benchmark my pub chain with that of 3-4 key competitors.
- I would use some social monitoring tools to gauge what was being said about my pub brand and to identify who, what and where people were talking about it. I would also look at my key competitors.
- Review how successful pubs /pub restaurants both in the US and UK use social media:
It is early days as yet for many pub groups/chains and many are just feeling their way. The US has more solid examples of how bars (pubs) are exploring opportunities. Assuming you have a strategy the next is to build your digital assets:
- Get pictures of popular pubs/events into high quality digital pictures and load up and tag on Flickr
- Setup my social sites
- Develop a Facebook page(s)
- Promotional tab to highlight key promotions
- Have a tab and run competitions
- Show a tab with menu on and pictures of food
- Have featured tab – feature a video of why people love coming to your pub(s)
- Encourage people to upload their own photos, videos but set out clear guidelines for content and moderate it.
- Encourage people to tweet about their experiences
- Respond promptly to any complaints
- Tweet out pics of events
- Use hashtags to promote events
- Video events, people to build transparency trust and testimonials
- Use video/infomercial on website landing page
- Encourage people to check-in/offer group deals
- Reward loyal followers with occasional shout outs on other networks e.g. Facebook/Twitter
- Set your business up on Yelp and use this to monitor the comments and feedback (see Mashable article)
- Don’t be frightended of negative feedback – use this as a means to develop your business. Address those that are unjustified or abusive
Set out a clear strategy, objectives and measures for each. Invest in getting this right and responding to people who post.
Create Experiences and Some Buzz
A customers experience and perceptions determine how they talk about a pub offline and online. Great experiences mean attention to detail throughout the time that they are in a pub. Be creative and come up with some concepts that involve customers. The pub quiz night is tired. If you look at shows on TV now they are more dramatic and some use crowdsourcing e.g. X-Factor, Red and Black…
- Creative themes/crowdsource
- Run a prize for the best creative ideas for some events and get others to vote on them
- If you do some homework you can cherry pick ideas from pubs/bars using social media
- PR Your Events
Use the following to determine your promotional plan: Audience > Objectives > Tactics > Tools > Measurement
- Identify your target audience and key influencers (inside your community and outside) e.g. create awareness of event through other bloggers and marketing contacts to announce the event
- Decide on your strategy and create engaging content (interactive media)
- Use QR codes in print/posters to blend offline and online
- Use the range of social media to promote your event (source: Mashable)
- Press Release – There are plenty of free and paid PR websites out there for you to issue a press release.
- YouTube – Creating a promotional video for your event and posting it on YouTube has the potential of drumming up interest.
- Tell A Story
- Develop and profile stories about your event before and after and feature these in your social media.
- Use and build upon the evolution of the pub group and what makes it unique
Harness the Platforms
Use an email capture form on website/Facebook page to enable you to send out newsletters (monthly) and updates to customers.
- Use an opt-in promotion to build mobile numbers into your database so that you can also use this to develop SMS marketing campaigns as well
- Develop a mobile friendly version of your website that works across the main smartphones
- Pub chains have the ability to use apps to further extend the brand experience, engagement and social integration – it is only limited by imagination
Most pub groups have yet to fully realise the potential of social media. They have far broader opportunities to intehrate these into marketing campaigns and interesting work with major brands to create new experiences and ways to develop loyalty not just promote low specials and low prices.We would love to hear your ideas and thoughts.
What do you think a social media pub of the future will be doing to get customers?