Though most of this research is currently carried out on desktop, increasingly (and as mobile devices become faster and more user-friendly) we are seeing consumers using their mobile devices to carry out research.
As part of that research, there’s little question that potential customers will look you up on sites such as Yelp, UrbanSpoon, OpenTable and Tripadvisor. If you are not already familiar with these, they are sites where consumers can look at reviews from people who have already visited your pub. Based on a star rating and commentary, they can strongly influence the decision to use your pub or not. While you cannot expect to please every customer, these reviews will over time rate your pub fairly accurately, depending on the ratio of good to bad reviews.
However, you can also use these sites as an opportunity to respond online to reviews in a positive manner. While you may disagree with some of the reviews and some of them may be unfair, how you respond to them will be looked on with interest by other consumers and you can often draw great respect for the way you handle a bad review. Though you would prefer if a customer complained before they left your pub so that you could do something about it, the fact is that the majority do not and will simply write the review and not return. Before these review sites, that customer was probably lost forever. Now, this is your opportunity to engage that customer in a conversation about their experience and to set about the challenge of getting them back into your pub.
If you’re not already reviewed on these sites, register with them and prepare your strategy for communicating with reviewers, thanking them for the good ones and communicating with the bad ones. Managed properly and with sincerity, these sites can be a great source of new business for you.
Social media is continually evolving, but at time of writing, the following are, at a minimum, the sites that you should be looking at getting involved with:
With over 500 million users worldwide and 100 million in the United States alone, Facebook is very influential in your business. Creating a separate Facebook page solely for your pub is extremely important. 51% of people who responded to a social media survey said they are more likely to buy something for “many” or “a few” brands that they have become fans of on Facebook? Having a fan page that customers can “like” on Facebook can lead to brand recognition and loyalty.
Facebook allows you to communicate about events in your pub such as menu changes, live music, quiz nights and also to communicate details of any promotions you are running. Give your Facebook fans incentives to “like” your page by offering Facebook-fan only offers and discounts.
In addition to utilizing Facebook to promote your restaurant via social media, you should consider Twitter as well. Twitter is a micro blogging site that allows users to send 140-character messages to each other. Twitter is a way to send short, quick messages, like promotions or daily deals, to your followers. Also, when you tweet something interesting about your restaurant, your
Twitter followers have the option of re-tweeting it so it reaches an even broader audience. You can even tweet fun photos like customers reading their menu covers or of the lunch-time rush. Some of your customers may prefer Twitter to Facebook or vice versa, so they may not be present on both sites. Therefore, it is essential to cross promote your deals on each platform.
These are websites that allow users to “check in” to the different venues including pubs, restaurants and events. Many Foursquare users have downloaded a mobile application that allows them to “check in” to places on their smart phones. By claiming your business listing on Foursquare you have the ability to see who is “checking in” to your restaurant in real-time. When someone checks in to a venue the most out of anyone else, Foursquare declares that person the mayor of that location. Many businesses have begun offering deals to the person who becomes the mayor, since he or she is a very loyal patron.
The geolocation side of this is beginning to find a foothold online and for pubs it’s a great opportunity to get seen again, promote yourself, offer discounts and so on. But you can also monitor it to see what people are saying about you.
YouTube is a great way of telling potential customers about your place. You can give them a tour of the kitchen during a busy Friday night, you can show them a clip of the band you had playing, you can have your chef show how he makes your fantastic Shepherd’s Pie and you can demonstrate how your bartenders pour the perfect pint of Guinness.
YouTube is also a good way of engaging with your community, putting up clips of promotional events, St. Patrick’s Day etc. and of course linking them to your Facebook page and website.
It takes a bit of hard work and determination, but if you can write a regular blog that’s interesting, it will bring you attention and followers whom you can turn into customers.