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Get More Customers! Grow Your Bar Business Using Social Media

Author: Marian Beke, Owner of The Gibson Bar

It’s unusual for bars and restaurants to not be active online these days. But, with so much noise and competition in a crowded digital space, we hear from Marian Beke of The Gibson on what it takes to make your venue stand out from the crowd.

There have been major shifts in the last decade in how we engage our customers in the hospitality trade. Especially in big towns or cities, where there are so many venues scrambling to capture peoples’ time and attention, having an online presence has never been so important.

Social media is always top of the list, but there are plenty of other influential online spaces worth thinking about. So many people trust third-party sources, like Yelp or TripAdvisor, using peer reviews, comments and images or video to influence their choice of bar or restaurant. So, it is likely you are already ‘online’ even without your input!


There are plenty of benefits to improving your online presence:

In today’s digital age, it can actually make it hard to survive if people can’t find your venue on Google Maps or access your cocktail menu on their phones. At the Gibson, our key focus is social media – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook – but we also review our activity and interactions on other platforms regularly. Social media is accessible to everyone and you’re never going to please them all – nor should you try to! Just be sure you’re doing right by your bar or restaurant and think before you post – once it’s out there, there’s no turning back.


  1. Nominating someone to take charge of your venue’s online presence – preferably someone who’s already relatively digital-savvy. We have one team member responsible for our online output to ensure we’re consistent across all communications. She has built a social calendar and will oversee everything, working with other members in our team to capture our content and post it.
  2. Start small to guarantee brand consistency. Interact with and support similar bars or businesses – they could be located nearby, or similar in mission/size or even complimentary (cocktail enthusiasts, bloggers, etc.). Start developing your network, regulate your posting and build from there. Bear in mind that different channels all have different purposes and functions, so make sure you’re getting the most out of each.
  3. TripAdvisor/YelpList your venue on online review sites and add up-to-date contact details so customers can find you easily Add high-quality photos to your listing and encourage guests to leave reviews.
  4. FacebookWith over 2 billion monthly users, Facebook is a must-have for any venue. Add a visually appealing cover and profile picture, interact and communicate with customers and encourage guests to leave reviews. With Facebook, you also have the option to pay for adverts to specifically target guests in your town or city. If you have the budget, this can be a quick and effective way to boost your online visibility, but it’s not essential for success!
  5. Twitter – Bars can engage with customers and be part of wider conversations in the industry on Twitter. Keep an eye on relevant hashtags and interact with other bars and drinks enthusiasts to put your venue on the map.

  6. InstagramInstagram is a very visual promotional tool, so consider the content you’re creating and how people will be consuming it. Ensure your drinks are optimised for photography by using fresh ingredients and inventive garnishes. For captions, we tend to lean towards simplicity – don’t over complicate things and tag the related brands or promotions to ensure you’re reaching the right audiences. On both Instagram and Facebook, beware of over posting! We typically aim for one post per day to avoid overloading our followers’ feeds.


At The Gibson, we don’t create drinks for their online value. We create drinks for their flavours and focus on achieving the right atmosphere at the bar. If guests want to share their visit online then great, but we’re focused on getting things right in person. There’s always a risk that bars will get carried away and focus on followers rather than guests, and it’s an easy trap to fall into, especially if you’re just starting out in the industry or have opened a new bar. There’s a lot of pressure to succeed in the digital world, but I would stress that whilst it may be great to have 10,000 likes on a drink – what’s the point if you can’t make them efficiently on a busy Saturday night or if they taste so bad guests don’t finish.

Using social media in your bar

What you'll learn

  • Why you should be active on social media
  • Tips for online success

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