Marketing the pub through social media
The ‘connected’ generation of 18-24 year-olds now account for 12% of the UK’s population according to a new report from CGA Peach in conjunction with Zonal Retail Data Systems.
Their Get Smart To The New Wave report finds that 51% of UK Millennials – ‘Generation C’ – spend their disposable income socialising but they also spend about 24% more than the average consumer.
Millennials figure prominently in the social media landscape too, living in a socially-connected world with mobile technology the beating heart of their lifestyles. The report finds 86% of them using social media every day with the vast majority making decisions based on their digital usage for when going out, this generation have proved themselves more inclined to book ahead online than previous ones, with four out of five 18-24 year-olds using online when choosing where to eat.
“Brand confidence and engagement is key for the new wave” points out the report, “with over half preferring to use a restaurant’s own website to book a table rather than a third party site.”
Millennials use a variety of methods to book their tables. Eight out of 10 book on a PC or laptop at their desk (whilst they should be working) and 75% whilst out and about too.
“The key here is that 18-24 year-olds are not driven by traditional 9-5 to book their dining destinations,” explains Olivia Fitzgerald, Managing Director of reservation and automated table management provider LiveRES, in the report, “To take advantage of this, operators need to make sure that they have responsive 24-hour online booking facilities that work just as well on a mobile or tablet as they do on a laptop. If they don’t, they’re going to quickly turn this fickle generation off.”
Whether chatting to friends, following their favourite brands or celebrities, researching a night out or simply shopping, their daily lives are carried out virtually, with 80% checking their social media frequently.
As a result, some venues and groups have decided to court this segment more professionally.
For them, targeting Millenials has become the key to success.
But it’s not only the Millennial generation that makes use of social media today. With three out of four adults having a smartphone according to research by Deloitte, many other age groups are making more use of social media in influencing their choice of venue and planning their nights out.
This has had a significant effect on the licensed trade’s marketing activities in Ireland too.
Boars Head’s sporting twitters
Hugh and Ann Hourican of The Boars Head in Dublin’s Capel Street make great use of social media to promote their premises through posting items of interest every day.
“People are using social media at a very high rate every year and it’s getting busier and busier,” says Hugh who was initially shocked by the amount of older people (including retirees) on social media.
“It’s a great way of them keeping in touch with what’s going on and where,” he explains.
But the biggest shock he got was when he discovered his own mother on facebook at 75!
It’s especially prevalent down the country, he adds, pointing out that the secret to social media is keeping it short.
And social media has proved profitable in terms of getting people into his pub.
“The time of day you post is important,” he advises. Just before tea-time is a particularly important time.
Recently, a group of late-afternoon customers ordered eight pints of Guinness. Hugh put a shot of all eight pints on The Boars Head facebook page and with offices in the vicinity just about to knock-off for the day, “… it put things in peoples’ heads,” he smiles.
Having a facebook page is also very useful in advertising forthcoming events at the sporting pub. An avid GAA man himself, sports would be a significant factor on The Boars Head’s social media sites. As a result he often gets tourists coming in having Googled sports bars in Dublin City Centre (mind you, it helps that the All Ireland Champions traditionally take a drink there the day after the final… more grist for tweets).
“Social media is the way forward for the hospitality business,” believes Hugh. Then, he showed me why.
A few minutes before we met, he’d just uploaded a picture of the Celtic Fiddlers from Newfoundland due to play the pub that evening. Minutes after posting, he showed me his facebook and twitter accounts. Already, the posting had got 1,040 impressions and 28 clicks.
“That’s low,” he confided!
When he recently retweeted a tribute to Paudie O’Shea he got 2,083 hits within a few minutes just on twitter; 169 engaged with it.
Johnnie Fox’s social scene
Up in the Dublin mountains, iconic Irish pub Johnnie Fox’s makes significant use of social media in its marketing efforts.
“Social media turns things around faster,” believes Fred Rainert, Business Manager there who, together with colleague Caitlin McMahon, looks after all social media at the pub which enjoys 25,000-plus likes and 17,000 check-ins.
The nearest any other pub has come to that is around 5,500 likes and followers, says Fred who likes to strike a balance between posting pictures of punters enjoying themselves and the dish of the day, for example.
And the good thing about using social media is the limitless number of ways that a pub can express itself.
Good Father Ted Friday at The Palace
Willie Ahern of The Palace in Temple Bar used social media most successfully last Good Friday when he tweeted that instead of serving alcohol, the bar would be serving up a Father Ted-style cornucopia of TK lemonade, Tayto crisps, Brennan’s Bread sandwiches and Barry’s Tea. Specially in honour of Good Friday closing, the offer included a cupcake adorned with a pint of Guinness made from icing with a red X through it! The tweet showed Mrs Doyle beckoning customers inside…. A lot of people turned up following the Mrs Doyle-fronted tweet and The Palace enjoyed a busy – but ‘dry’ – Good Friday as a result.
And just to digitally hammer home the point to the Department of Justice, Willie tweeted it pictures of tourists turning up at the pub with no beer (looking perplexed as they forlornly fondled their glass of lemonade and packet of crisps).
It didn’t end there. The Evening Herald and the Indo picked up the story thus generating lots of publicity for the Fleet Street pub. It was also covered by TV3.
Another successful social media stunt at the Palace involved the ‘unveiling of the Ladies’ Jacks’ with a special guest appearance by TD Mick Wallace.
“It created curiosity among the people in the weeks before and in the weeks that followed,” said Willie of the successful promo night, “People came in for weeks afterwards and wanted to go and see the Ladies’ room.”
He agrees that younger customers are so engaged with social media that he often wonders if he might be “missing a trick”.
Some publicans have pointed out that between facebook and twitter can be found two different styles of ‘audience’.
facebook tends to be for those living closeby and might be more event-driven or community based in its message, explained one publican.
On the other hand twitter can be used to cultivate people who’re not regulars, such as the craft beer community.
And pub promotional videos can be uploaded onto facebook that have seemingly very little selling of the pub itself involved.
Take a look at D2’s hilarious ‘President Michael D meets Irish rugby giants’ on You Tube.
On the other hand, a joint-promotional video skit put out by one South Dublin pub involved the first-ever craft beer delivery by drone from the Five Lamps Brewery…… If only!
Many pubs frequently post between six and seven o’clock when people would be getting home from work. Content frequently focuses on unusual aspects of the pub and such postings seem to get most reaction when featuring staff or customers. Birthday parties get a lot of traction too.
The Long Hall
At the Long Hall in Dublin’s South Great George’s Street Marcus Houlihan has found social media to be very effective.
“In the last two years I’ve started to ramp it up, having seen it as the way customers are going,” he says, “We wouldn’t keep a newspaper behind the bar today. Everyone uses a smartphone.”
The pub has nearly 3,500 followers on facebook and 2,000 on twitter.
When Guinness introduced the new pint glass, the pub got a lot of negative reaction to it.
“So we put up a picture of the tulip glass and the new one on facebook and asked people what they thought,” remembers Marcus, “It went out to over 40,000 people and the reaction was huge.”
The pub has also utilised facebook and twitter this year to highlight the 250th Anniversary of its first being licensed.
“We asked for any old pictures of the pub that people might have and got a fantastic response,” he adds.
He also put out pictures of the pub when it installed new furniture and got a similarly “phenomenal” reaction.
“Social media just increases our profile, increases our awareness among customers,” says Marcus, adding, “It’s more effective than print advertising.”
In fact Marcus has started to run sponsored posts on facebook just to capitalise on the advantage.
“This generation live and breathe technology”
And as time moves on, consumers are moving onto newer social media outlets such as snapchat and instagram and beverage apps.
“Customers are now taking photos no matter where they go and they leave a little review for others online,” says Hugh Hourican of those visiting The Boars Head, “Pictures are massive now. People like to see people enjoying themselves.”
Outlets should consider using these more topical media to showcase their food and drink pairings, believes market researcher Canadean which finds that 35% of consumers around the world think about the food they will pair with a drink before buying it.
“Encouraging young adults to consider pairing alcohol with food will be a crucial way to grow volumes of wine, beer and even some spirits,” comments Canadean Senior Analyst Ronan Stafford who believes that social media is now a visual medium, moving on from the world of tweets.
Not surprisingly, this view is backed by Evan Spiegel, the Co-Founder of snapchat, who stated recently, “Historically, photos have always been used to save really important memories, but today pictures are being used for talking”.
The CGA Peach report’s findings led Peter Martin, Vice President of CGA Peach, to comment, “This new wave are more connected and have more food and drinks brand awareness than ever before, largely driven by their social media habits. Our research with Zonal shows how vital it is for businesses to future-proof if they’re to actively promote themselves to this powerful new wave and more importantly, retain them as they get older”.
In the report, Tim Howard, Head of Marketing at the Deltic Group, the UK’s largest club and bar operator, explains, “This generation live and breathe technology and want everything delivered to them in a timely manner.
“It’s essential, therefore, that operators are switched on to their customers’ needs and desires and interact with them in the right way. Listening and responding to the conversation is key.”
And he warns, “Giving them what you’ve always given them just won’t cut it”.