Original article posted on via Jonathan Richter on LinkedIn
In August 2015, two childhood friends and I began developing a mobile app called Yule to help people decide where to spend their night out based on realtime content. After manually cataloguing social media data for over 160,000 nightlife venues worldwide, there are basic truths about the online presence of nightlife venues worth sharing. Many of these points seem obvious, but my business partners and I continue to be amazed at how badly some venues are missing out due to mismanagement or a lack of effort being put into their social media accounts. My hope is that some of these tips may serve to assist venue owners in reaching their target audience online, which in turn will improve the quality of my own product. Here is what we have found:
1. Nightclubs have the most content
Every major city in the U.S. has nightclubs, and they are all in direct competition with each other. Clubs tend to have patrons who are willing and eager to spend a lot of money, the most luxurious of which turn a seven-figure profit on a good weekend. Most clubs that host big events and theme parties hire promoters to make posts on social media outlets, and will spend over $100 on Facebook advertising alone for a single event. Since there are fewer nightclubs than bars and they tend to have a way higher exchange in capital, it makes sense that nightclubs have far more social media posts from promoters and patrons alike. The club owners want to dominate the advertising space on social media, and the club goers like to show off their status as they dance dressed to the nines while receiving bottle service.
Bars tend to have far fewer social media posts than nightclubs, and the only ones that really maintain active accounts are the venues that host live music on a regular basis. Dive bars, speakeasys, and other bars with live entertainment usually only post about an event once or twice on their social media accounts. For these venues, the overwhelming majority of photo and video content comes from concert attendees, including friends and fans of the performers. Furthermore, bars that do not typically host live entertainment or do not frequently post on social media effectively do not see much online engagement from their patrons or followers.
The typical post/follower dichotomy of popular nightclubs (top row) and bars (bottom row) on Instagram
2. Venues that have active Facebook Twitter and Instagram accounts have more online engagement
Almost every venue has an official Facebook page, even if it’s not actively managed by the venue owner. The bars and nightclubs that keep their Facebook page up to date by creating events and posting regular updates have more Likes and Check-ins than the venues that completely neglect their profile. Many venues fail to realize that for the majority of their target audience (ages 21- early 30s) Facebook is still the go-to source to learn about a venue and get a sense of the atmosphere. By failing to even upload a profile picture, these venues severely limit their organic reach for potential patrons and discourage engagement from regulars and loyal patrons. We’ve noticed that the venues posting frequently on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the same ones that engage with their fans and followers by responding to their comments and posts. This level of attention not only results in more Likes and Followers online, it helps your strengthen your business’s reputation as one that is caring, responsive, and knowledgeable.
3. Higher quality content yields more Likes and Followers
If you really want to grab peoples’ attention and surmount the abundance of content on social media it’s important to stand out. Very few people will take the time to stop to examine a fuzzy or low-resolution promotional photo, so posting high quality photos and videos is crucial to gaining more likes and followers– especially on Instagram. Posting quality visual content may seem intuitive, but you’d be surprised how often venue promoters make posts with too much information and little regard for the viewing audience. Some of the more successful nightclub posts feature a group of friends dancing, attractive bartenders, or paid hostesses for the club smiling and mixing drinks for happy customers. Very often though these posts are formatted like a crowded flyer with the club logo, name of the guest celebrity or dj, time and date of the event, and a ton of illegible and irrelevant text- like the venue address and sponsors- that no one on Instagram is going to read.
People are attracted to the high-quality image of the bartender and the thought of enjoying a drink with friends- it’s far more relatable than the wordy promotional image. Appealing to your audience with an stunning image and providing details about an event in the comment section is a subtle but great way to promote an event while building your online presence. For more details, I recommend checking out Foundr Magazine‘s awesome free resources for Instagram marketing.
4. Only popular venues in major cities use Twitter
In cataloguing venues in both rural and urban environments we’ve found that Twitter is only used by the most popular venues in major cities. However, Twitter does appear to be a more popular medium for strip clubs to promote specials and events since the guidelines for picture content are less strict than that of Facebook and Instagram. Twitter has always been a popular medium for businesses, but in the highly visual and flashy environment of the nightlife, Instagram has proven to be the most effective platform to promote a venue or event on social media.
5. Venues are not utilizing social media to their full potential
More and more people are publicly checking in and tagging themselves at nightlife venues, but very few venues are taking advantage of this phenomenon from a marketing standpoint.
It has become common practice on Instagram to repost other peoples’ photos as long as you credit the account that originally posted the image and/or contact them prior to reposting. Bars and nightclubs would be wise to select some of the high quality images posted by their patrons and share those images with their followers. People are generally open to receiving a shoutout from a business’s official page because it affirms the value of their post and gains the individual more attention, Likes, and Followers. Businesses could also take better advantage of social media data by offering sales and discounts to their Followers. Offering such deals to Followers could allow businesses to better track loyal patronage, and will keep people coming back again and again. By building a system that displays social media content in realtime, we have created a unique and comprehensive platform that’s useful for nightlife patrons deciding where to go out, and informative for venue owners that wish to asses their online presence in greater detail.