In The Pub; On The Web
The smartest bars have websites, Facebook and Twitter accounts. By following a few easy steps you can utilise the unlimited opportunities offered online.
The rise of the Connected Bar
Imagine for a moment that it’s 1995 again. Take That rule the charts, England’s football team still promise much but deliver little and the Conservative party is in power.
Just 20 years on it would appear little has changed. Yet, for the pub industry the differences between then and now are immense. Running a pub in 2015 is vastly different to pulling pints at the height of Britpop. The reason? Simple: the Digital Revolution.
In 1995, the internet was the preserve of a few geeks in California. Today, no aspect of modern life has been left untouched by the changes brought about by this technological transformation. Pubs and bars are no different.
But is your bar making the most of these digital opportunities? In an age where many bars are striving to remain the cornerstone of the local community, digital media — websites, email, social media, blogs — can actively help bars and pubs fulfil this role.
Pubs, it’s time to get online
Of course, the almost unending choice offered online can appear baffling and overwhelming — especially for the uninitiated. But can your bar afford not to be digitally active?
The recently launched #PubsGetOnline campaign found that 98 per cent of internet users have searched online to find information about a pub. And when you consider that 89 per cent of the UK (57m people)* use the internet, having an online presence would seem to be a no-brainer. However, the campaign estimates that just under 50 per cent of pubs don’t have a website.
The smartest bars of course do have websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. And by following a few easy steps you can utilise the unlimited opportunities offered online.
Social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat — is clearly compatible with the pub industry. Recent research showed that there are approximately 450,000 conversations about pubs on Facebook and Twitter every month.
When used creatively and strategically, social media can enable you to reach potential customers in a way that traditional advertising and marketing can’t. Earlier this season football fans were on social media trying to discover which pubs were showing the Champions League matches, now that BT Sport exclusively shows all the games. Something as simple as updating your social media pages with what sporting fixtures you’re screening will see your community expand. Here are two great examples: The Tollington in North London and Bar Sport in Cannock, Staffordshire.
BT Sport’s customer zone, The Manager’s Office, has a dedicated area devoted to getting connected via social media. Our partner can help get you a social media presence for free. Free promo kits are available for each fixture.
At the heart of the community
A recent development in the industry has been to list pubs as Assets of Community Value. This helps protect them from demolition or change of use. And when you think about what pubs offer their local communities – a chance to meet, to eat, to drink, watch sports – they certainly are assets. As American tourist Scott Waters wryly pointed out in his celebrated Facebook post noting the random differences between American and Britain, pubs are community living rooms.
Offering free wifi to customers is another way to entice people in (especially during the day) and keep them there. Freelancers are always looking for places locally to work. Café’s have been quick to offer this service. Smart bar managers do too. Offering coffee and snacks helps.
Keeping on top of online reviews — particularly TripAdvisor — and replying to any points raised, whether positive or negative, is also worth bearing in mind as a new method of attentive customer service. TripAdvisor has a customised business site here in which you can manage your listing. Searching for your pub in Google will enable you to see what customers are saying about you online.
Just give it a punt
It may seem daunting at first, but the evidence is there: getting online and getting involved, particularly on social media, pays dividends for bars and pubs in the 21st century. Drinking, eating and watching sport are activities that work in conjunction with the conversations started on social media. Embrace it. As a marketing tool it’s a winning approach with little spend, and potentially many eyeballs.
And to get you started, have a look at this checklist.
- Get onto Social Media. This free tool from Inapub for BT Sport customers will help you.
- Set up a website. Here’s a great example – Tib Street Tavern
- Offer your customers free WiFi to keep them connected
- Manage your online reviews here, and your Google listing