Navigating the Social Media Seas in 2020

todd collins social mediaThis year has been an immense challenge for the bar and restaurant industry. From forced shutdowns, to reopens, to shutdowns again.

Bars and restaurants not only had to pivot their business model, but they had to pivot their social media strategy as well. How do you continue branding or marketing a business that’s not open to the public? It’s not easy, that’s for sure, however many many bars and restaurants excelled in this tumultuous environment.

As we begin to reopen, here are some strategies that have been working excellently for our clients at

The first step is making sure you are where your customer or guest is. Does your location or locations have diversified profiles on multiple platforms? Do you have a LinkedIn page to target content for parties, seminars, meetings etc.? Bars and restaurants leave many missed opportunities on the table by not utilizing LinkedIn as a viable platform for lead generation without spending a dime. Post about how your spaces are perfect for award ceremonies, seminars for business, as well as holiday parties. These are highly profitable leads that can be generated by a simple free social media post on LinkedIn.

What’s your target demographic? If we are going after that 21-40 crowd, and you are not utilizing Instagram and Instagram stories more than Facebook, you once again are leaving many opportunities on the table. We find that most of the time, a location is being consistent, however, they are just focused more on a platform where their target customer base is not spending a majority of their time. If you have a Facebook page, you should have an Instagram page—there is no viable reason to not be on the most popular social media platform in the world.

What’s the most popular search engine on the planet? You guessed it! Google. That being said, do you know that Google My Business is in itself a social media platform? That’s right, you can post social media posts, offers, updates with video and images to your Google My Business Page. Why is this important? If you post on your Google My Business page daily, Google sees this. It triggers your page as being active, and it can be recommended more often to those looking for a bar or restaurant similar to yours based on their search queries. Use keywords in the posts that best describe what your customer would be searching for. Having trouble coming up with those keywords? Try visiting a site called this will help you come up with what words are most popular in searches for a business similar to yours. Google My Business as a social media platform is massively underutilized by bars and restaurants, however, it is the best way to rank higher in searches. Did I mention it’s FREE to post there?

Facebook is still the best platform to reach the broadest audience. It will continue to evolve and adopt new users as these groups age up. The question I always get is, “How do I get more followers? How do I get more likes?” I want you to step back for a second and think about your page and the content that is being distributed. Ask yourself this question: “Would I follow my own page if I was not associated with the business?“ That’s a huge social media todd collinsquestion to answer, so be sure to take a look at the content and really dig into it. If you find that you wouldn’t, don’t sweat it. Here are some tips that will help out. I should mention that these steps will help on all of the platforms I mentioned above.

Step 1: Show & Tell

What do you show others, or share with your friends and family on social media? Typically this is content that is entertaining or funny. That being said, this is the easiest way to create engagement on your pages. Memes are by far the highest engaging posts on the internet and bars and restaurants can have a lot of fun with this. Don’t know how to make a meme or grab content to make one? Download a mobile app called Mematic. This app will give you the content as well as the outline to make it look correct for the platform. Guess what? It’s FREE!!! Entertainment is a great way to show the human side of your location as well as start to form a personality around the business and attract your “perfect customer.”

Step 2: Educating

Educating your guests on how you make your food or a specific drink is a great way again to create content, as well as a huge opportunity to create characters within your establishment. Grab your phone, introduce your bartender or chef, and shoot a video. Post the video, don’t overthink the deliverable, remember consistency is more important than the look. Try titles like, “Thirsty Thursdays with our Bartender,” or, “Chef Creations Tuesdays with Chef Sally.”

Don’t worry, they will attempt to make it at home, however, they will fail and come running to you. At the same time, they will now recognize those in the videos and feel they have a relationship with that person. This is easy, low-hanging fruit content that can keep others engaged. These types of content are also what well known TV shows look for when choosing bars and restaurants to highlight. Put in the work and reap the rewards.

Step 3: Information & Engagement

Are you engaging in the comments section of your posts? Many of us think if we post it the job is done. That’s only the first step—it’s what happens in the comments section that matters. This is also a heavy trigger point to a post being seen by new people. The more engagement a post gets, the higher it levels up in a platform’s algorithm. If five people comment on your post in the first five minutes and you respond to all five comments in five minutes, that is ten total comments. That will level your post up to be seen by others. This is often overlooked by bars and restaurants and is one of the main reasons for lack of growth on profiles.

Step 4: Other Audiences

Have you ever thought about leveraging other audiences through strategic partnerships? Find local businesses that you can partner with to run contests, this will help in leveraging the audience of their profiles to yours. It is much more successful on the bar and restaurant side as most of these businesses are very niche with their following, and yours is more broad.

At the end of the day, not much has changed as far as strategy goes. Be sensitive to others’ feelings, and make your profiles engaging with entertainment, education, and information, as well as community involvement. If you walk away with anything from this article, make sure it’s that consistency is the key. If you are there every day, you will grow just like anything else; without that consistency, you are starting over every day.

Todd Collins is the Chief Operating Officer of Restaurant Reputations, a company that works to help restaurants and bars with their online brand. I currently work with over 400 clients building digital marketing strategies, managing online reputation, and assisting these restaurants and bars in conquering their local markets. Follow Todd on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn at @toddcollinsofficial and on Twitter at @reputationtodd.
Photos (top to bottom): Tracy Le Blanc from Pexels; NeONBRAND on Unsplash.