How to Use Twitter to Build Your Bar Business

By Ray Foley, Heather Dismore

If you turn on the television (or computer, cellphone, radio, or any other communication device), you’ve probably heard the term social media. It is something to make use of to promote your bar. In a nutshell, social media describes a set of Internet applications or websites that bring together a group of users who interact with each other, sharing content and opinions.

Using social media effectively is a time commitment. You absolutely can do this yourself. However, if you feel overwhelmed by the process, look for professionals to help you develop and implement a social media strategy. Here are two companies that can get you going:

  • Main Street Hub: For $250–$400 per month, this company provides a range of services including engaging with your customers and encouraging them to write positive reviews of your business. The company can also monitor your online reputation and help respond to negative reviews.

  • FanPilot: For $200–$700 per month, the company promises to deliver a certain number of new followers and “Likes” each month as well as to monitor your online mentions and create content to engage your patrons and grow your customers.

If this sort of help is simply beyond your budget, look for a free tool that can make managing your online profiles easier and less time consuming. A few of our favorites are HootSuite, Buffer, and SocialOomph. These tools let you monitor multiple profiles at once and allow you to schedule updates and posts to your followers.

Twitter is a microblogging site that allows you to have ongoing conversations with your patrons, 140 characters at a time. Successful Twitter brands talk with their customers and don’t just simply tell them to come in to the bar.

Twitter is more about building relationships with patrons and less about the hard sell. Twitter is a great platform for showing the personality of your bar. You must be genuine and authentic on Twitter in order to gain and maintain a following. Hopefully that following turns into patrons.

Here’s a quick rundown on some Twitter lingo you need to succeed:

  • A handle is your user name. For example, Heather’s Twitter handle is @heatherdismore. Her latest bar’s Twitter handle is @FRCantina. Check out either (or both) of them to get a sense of how to use Twitter effectively.

  • A tweet is a post you send from your Twitter account. It must be 140 characters or less, short and sweet.

  • Followers are accounts who follow your profile on Twitter. In most cases these followers are people, but they can also be brands or businesses.

  • A hashtag (visually represented as #) is a system used to categorize your tweets. It is recommended using a hashtag or two that relates to your bar that you always include with your tweets. That way, if someone is searching for that hashtag your business will come up. For example, you could use #localbrew if that’s a focus for you.

  • A retweet is a way to share with your followers something that someone else tweeted that interests you. For example, maybe your favorite bourbon brand is launching a new honey version of its product and tweets about it.

    The tweet may read “Look for Mountain Man #Honey coming this spring” and include a picture of the new label. You can retweet this to your followers with a message from you, like “Can’t wait to try this. I smell #craftcocktails.”

So how does a bar use Twitter to increase business? In fairness, it’s hard to directly tie a revenue increase to Twitter activity, especially if you’re a brand-new business. You have no before-and-after Twitter numbers to compare. But when you’re having genuine conversations with people who get to know you and your bar, you build customer loyalty.

Here are some ways to connect with patrons on Twitter without hitting them over the head with a hard sell:

  • Follow people who follow you. People like to be acknowledged and validated.

  • Follow liquor, beer, and spirits brands you serve. Then you can retweet their tweets to your followers.

  • Follow sports teams in your area. You can get the news on trades, games, and events early and let your followers know.

  • Follow and engage with charity organizations you like.

  • Retweet reviews or comments made by patrons on Twitter.

  • Regularly (daily or more often) search for your bar’s name on Twitter. Even if someone doesn’t tag you, she may be talking about you. Find a way to respond to or connect with her.

  • Let people know about special events coming up, like a beer dinner with a local brewer, along with info on when to get tickets.

  • Update followers on the weekend entertainment playing at your place. Look for opportunities to prop up bands that have played your place. Maybe last weekend’s band just received a local “Best of” award. Acknowledge that with a “Congrats @bandnamehere. Can’t wait to have you back.”