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Market Your Bar For Free: Your Ultimate Guide To Using Social Media (As A Free Marketing Tool)

Welcome To Your Ultimate Guide To Using Social Media To Market Your Bar For Free

Marketing and more specifically, how to market your bar is more important today than it ever has been before.

We have all had those lazy afternoons and nights when not a soul comes in to see us behind the bar.

Now that means less tips, less fun and ultimately less money put behind the bar.

But what can YOU do to combat this?

As promised – all of these steps are highly actionable and will not cost you anything.

And what you guys have to do is not hard, in fact it’s simple

What you have to do is increase your skillset.

Before you run to the hills at the idea of having to learn something new, or proclaiming that you will never have the time. Read on a little, if you can’t find one actionable tip then no hard feelings. But i bet that you can…

You may already be involved in Social Media for your bar, or you may just be really interested in it.

Either way, bookmark this guide and use it as your blueprint to take your bar to the next level.

bookmark this guide and use it as your blueprint to take your bar to the next level Click To Tweet

We are under no illusion that Social Media Marketing has become harder and harder as Facebook etc.. Continue to push advertising as the main form of outreach, but there are many ways to beat this and use Social Media to our advantage.

Even Social Media powerhouses only have an average organic reach of around 5% on Facebook so don’t be put off by low numbers. Plus now you have this guide.

Don’t worry if you are not an avid reader and more of a skimmer, there are images and a handy contents page 🙂

This guide will show you exactly how to beat the system and drive business into your venues Click To Tweet

But first let’s go through what ground rules and basics that you should expect to be following, or telling your team to follow, as an absolute minimum.


The Basics

Setting The Roles

  • Who is on your social media team?

You can choose exactly who is responsible for wielding the might of social media. The job cannot belong to everyone. I have consulted in a few venues where i was told that whoever is on shift does the posting. This shouldn’t happen. ultimately it doesn’t breed consistency. Here’s what i would suggest…

All venue management teams to be involved, delegations are allowed to filter down but the General Manager is ultimately responsible. It is they who also sets the clear guidelines for social media management.

  • How are problems/challenges handled and by whom?

I would suggest that they are all to be handled by the Management Team – all negatives reviews or negative comments need to be dealt with by the same person. You will get negativity, it’s just a fact of social media life.

  • How will we evaluate our successes and learn from our failures?

Once a month you should be having an analytical look at the insights for each channel, looking at what works and what needs changing up, then have discussions in house as to how to tackle problems or increase successes.

Don’t worry i have made you a wonderful tool that you can grab below



There is more on how to use this later on in this post! but don’t skip forward just yet…

Perhaps the most important basic is one that breeds consistency.

“You will need: A minimum of two posts on each account, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, per day.”

Tweet that out here;

You need a minimum of two posts on each account, Facebook, Instagram, and twitter, per day Click To Tweet

Why Is It Important To Post Consistently?

The truth is that what you are doing, when it comes to social media marketing, is a marathon and not a sprint.

For me there are two main reasons that prove that you should ALWAYS post consistently;

Facebook and other social media channels will reward you for it! The more you post the more your content will be in front of your customers. Facebook shows a post in a users feed based on the algorithm below (simplified).

Social Media Marketing For Bars


Meaning that Facebook chooses whether or not to show in a users feed based on

– How recently the post was published

– The amount of engagement on the post 

– Whether or not the user has interacted with your posts before

– Whether the user has interacted with your page before 

It’s clear to see, that the more posts you do on a consistent basis will give you a better chance of showing up in your customer’s newsfeeds

NOTE: Especially if you have the check-in feature enabled on your Facebook page and you have actively encouraged people to do so. There should be lots of past engagement with your Facebook page if done properly.

Secondly, Posting to a schedule maintains a consistent brand. It means that there is always fresh content on your news feed.

Nothing hurts a business like ours more than creating social media accounts and then not posting to them. If a potential customer searches for your business on Facebook and sees that you have not posted in a month, they could easily assume you went out of business.

So now we know that we MUST post regularly

But what exactly should we be posting?

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Posting Guidelines & Best Practices  

These five rules underneath are exactly what you need to be thinking about with every post and every interaction that you have on Social Media, following these will make sure that you are working from a good base point and stay true to the brand.

transparency, consistency, connection, creativity and promptness


Everything we say is true, you wouldn’t lie to your friends and so we don’t lie to our venue’s friends


This is looking at what is relevant and irrelevant on your feeds. And only sticking with the relevant. There should be no photo’s taken from Google (more later on how to create a photo bank to work from).

The feeds should have a consistent voice and style throughout as if it is written by one person

Take a look at Red’s True BBQ Facebook page for a great example – everything on your feed should relate back to the business and/or the products that we sell. When scrolling down a feed it should tell a story


Creating advocates – remember names, engage with them, creating regulars on line creates regulars in real life. Social Media isn’t a set and forget strategy it is social. Have conversations like it is real life.


Social media is organic. It changes every day. keep within your Social Media Voice and keep consistent but be creative, see what is working for other companies – have fun. Facebook live, Boomerang etc.… Original content that people love.

Have your text written on a chalkboard and post that. Take a video of staff explaining how to book or make a cocktail


No one should be waiting for a reply on any Social Media site. You get back to them as soon as possible.

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Facebook Best Practices

Using Facebook Tabs 

All of your Facebook Pages needs to have something that is workable in the blue highlighted section as you can see below. – This particular page as a “Book Now” button that when pressed opens another page that is the Bookings system for a venue.

bartending social media guidelines

It is possible to change this by editing the button – For instance if you do not have a bookings system then you can make a simple contact form. 

how to market your bar

I would recommend at this stage that you have it point directly at the best way for the customer to make a booking. This way your Facebook page also becomes a direct sales tool that can funnel the reader straight into a booking commitment.


Content that performs best

Native Video

What is a Native Video?

Well it is a video that you take directly through Facebook or upload directly to Facebook. So it stays clear of ever being a YouTube video

But how does that affect a venue?

Simply, Facebook are rewarding people with more reach for a Native Video than an embedded youtube one. Has you can see – video totally outdoes any other form of Facebook Post

social media for bartending

Post it natively: Posting directly to Facebook seems to provide better results than linking to video from sites like YouTube or Vimeo

Choose a featured video: Facebook allows you to pick one featured video that gets a prominent place on your Page. You find this by going to Videos > Set Featured Video

NOTE: the video already as to have been published on your feed to make it a featured video

Create video playlists: Group related pieces of content together in a Facebook video playlist

Key Takeaway:


Study The Negative Feedback

Sometimes it is best to look at what people don’t like about what you are posting to do this then go to Insights > Posts >  scroll down slightly > Then click these buttons as the image below shows.

bartending social media marketing

Facebook Insights offers up four types of negative feedback:

  • hide post

  • hide all posts

  • report page as spam

  • unlike page

Find out exactly what rubs people up the wrong way by clicking which post as any negatives attributed to it. Decrease those types of post. That simple.

Key Takeaway:

  • Find out what’s not working and get rid of it – Learn to not repeat past mistakes


Organic post targeting – To market your bar to the right people

With the decrease in organic reach it as become more and more important to be able to target the correct people.

Take for instance that you are trying to create a buzz around a Christmas Party at the Venue and want to specifically attract corporate clients who will spend a large amount of money.

Blasting out a Christmas party Facebook Post no matter how pretty it looks and how good the content is written is going to fall on some deaf hears within your followers.

So with organic post targeting;

  • You can serve your post to relevant customers based on their gender, age, education, location and even interest.

  • You can set an end date for your post to stop showing in the news feed.

  • The post only limits the visibility of your post in the feed. On your Page’s timeline, it’ll show up to all of your fans.

Facebook has made organic post targeting quite difficult to turn on. I’m not sure whether or not this is because they would prefer you to pay for post targeting or not. But this could be one of the most powerful tools you could use to get your content in front of the right people.

The first thing to do is go to your page settings, then make sure you have turned on ‘Audience Optimization For Posts’.

organic post targeting

After you have done this – Click ‘Settings” again in the top right of the Facebook Page. Then go to the ‘Preferred Page Audience’ Tab halfway down the left-hand sidebar.

socail media marketing for my bar

From here Click the Edit Button

marketing a bar

Change The location settings to be within your area plus the radius around that area in km.

Don’t change the interests a this moment in time. You can change these per post.

Then click Save – from here we can start to target specific people without spending any money and making sure we are speaking to the right audience with every post.

Now go to write a post as normal. Add your photo or native video and your amazing caption.

Next to the Photo, Feelings and location button (in the bottom left) should now be a small crosshair in grey, Press it. The word targeting will appear and this box will pop up on your screen.

using Facebook to market a bar

So for this example, we are trying to specifically target corporate clients for a Christmas party and a Bowling Venue/ Bar.

facebook and bars

Hit save once you are happy with your targeting.

NOTE: this method doesn’t mean that some people won’t see it, it just means that Facebook will try harder to get the post in front of the correct people.

using facebook to market my bar

Hit Publish – Your Post is targeted

Okay so that way is when you know the audience that you want to target. But what happens if you want to know what your audience wants to see?

Hit the Facebook symbol in the top left > Hit Adverts Manager > Hit Adverts Manager again > then Audience Insights

how to use social media in a bar

This will bring up this page. Hit ‘People connected to your Page

SM in bars

On This part it is important to remember that The venue will most likely be a place rather than a page, so press the places menu and simply click your venue. 

using facebook to get my bar busy

Make sure that the location settings in the top Left are cleared, this will allow Facebook to look at your entire audience. 

using Facebook to get my bar busy

So when we take a look at the ‘page likes’ tab we can clearly see that our existing audience is also a fan of Trinity Leeds – which is the city centre shopping centre.

facebook and marketing of bars

So now we can use our specific targeting once again to make sure we are reaching the correct people in the correct feeds. For instance 

using facebook to market a bar

There we are, that is Organic Post Targeting.

This is a great tool to use when you have something super specific to promote or an event that you know a certain demographic who has particular interests will enjoy.

In short, don’t waste your reach when you don’t have to.

In short don't waste your reach when you don't have to. Click To Tweet

Key Takeaways:

  • Create posts with a specific goal in mind and target that post to those most likely to engage
  • Find out what your followers are interested in and create posts targeted to them


Invite Your Bookings/Emails to Like Your Facebook Page

You can upload email addresses which Facebook will use to find people who are Facebook users. Your pages will be suggested to them in recommended pages on their own timeline

Here’s how to do it

First thing is to go to your bookings system or your subscribers list and export all the email addresses within the last week/month (you will do this weekly or monthly so it is up to you)

Then once you have only their email addresses in a single .csv file (excel) in a single column you can continue on with the below

Press Invite email contacts

Upload the file you have just created and if the customer uses that email address for Facebook then you will show up in their recommended pages to like.


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Instagram Best Practices

About Instagram Hashtags

With Instagram, you are limited to 30 hashtags in a post. These below are some of the top hashtags associated with Food & Drink.

#love #food #instagood #drinks #party #bar #friends #yummy #beer #coffee #happy #cocktail #photooftheday #wine #yum #fun #drunk #night #cocktails #foodporn #hot #delicious #eat #alcohol #picoftheday  #instafood #music

You can just copy and paste these into your posts and you can be sure that your post will be seen by the correct people.

But as a business that relies on sales within a venue, this isn’t super laser targeted enough for us. We need to add in localized hashtags as well. So in my case it would be Leeds City

#leeds #leedslife #igleeds #loveleeds #igersleeds [here add an even more localized hashtag, e.g  #merrionstreet

Now we have 6 localized ones you can chop and change with the original hashtags to create the perfect hashtag set for the image. For example, say you are taking a photo that showcases draught pints and cocktails in one image… You should use your localized set and add in the perfect other hashtags, as you can see below;

#leeds #leedslife #igleeds #loveleeds #igersleeds #merrionstreet #love #instagood #drinks #party #bar #friends  #beer #happy #cocktail #photooftheday #yum #fun #night #cocktails #delicious #alcohol #picoftheday

QUICK SIDE NOTE: It is ALWAYS a better idea to use the caption for mentions and add a comment for Hashtags as you can see below 

using instagram to market my bar

The majority of the Hashtags should be situated in the first comment that you will make as soon as you have posted your photo not in the caption.

This makes the original image not seem spammy. When you hashtag the comments it does exactly the same job as hashtagging the caption. But it makes it much more user friendly. Which is what we are all about after all.

Key Takeaways:

  • Put all hashtags in a comment rather than the caption

  • You can utilize up to 30 hashtags per post. Choose 5-10 localized hashtags and the rest as top hashtags

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is VERY similar to Snapchat, most of you will have used or heard of Snapchat at some point

SIDE NOTE: Feel free to set up a Snapchat based around your staff at the venue. It is a great tool to personalize your brand.

I would suggest doing an Instagram Story every Saturday night. The important thing is to keep it fun and staff-led. Having this every week consistently instead of sporadic will build a following around your Instagram.

NOTE: As Instagram stories become more popular you may increase the amount of ‘stories’ you are doing per week. As a rule i would recommend only doing around 5 photo’s or videos per story.

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Twitter Best Practices

Using Hash Tags Effectively 

Hashtags have been around for as long as Twitter has been around. Here’s the thing, most people and companies use hashtags in the wrong way.

I like to think of it as 2 golden rules. That’s it

Informative Hashtags Are Better Than Abstract Ones 

One of the most famous hashtags of our time was #IceBucketChallenge – one of the worst of our time was #WTFF.

Ice bucket challenge lets you know exactly what it is. I bet you are still trying to work out the other one. Well, the hashtag was created by Burger King and it stands for What The French Fry.

You can easily see why one hashtag as worked better than the other.

Don’t Over Do Them

You always want your audience to know specifically what ideas you’re trying to share with them.

The more hashtags you add into your content, the more diluted and confusing your message becomes. As a rule of thumb, limit yourself to three hashtags per tweet.

“Excited about #SummerVacation” is a clear, simple message, while “#Excited about #summer #vacation #2015! #summer2015” is not.

By far the best way of using hashtags we cover in “leveraging twitter for real time” which we will cover soon.


Twitter Polls

A great way of leveraging Twitter and grabbing attention is with a poll. See below how to set up a Twitter Poll.

instagram marketing for bartenders

  • Keep your poll questions short and sweet. Your audience is more likely to respond when you keep your poll simple.

  • Ask questions about your products, and brand in general. Be sure to mix in a fun Twitter poll every now and then about a debate or which rum makes the best Daiquiri

  • Store a list of potential Twitter poll questions and post a new poll every week for consistency.

Here’s an example of a poll in action  (not bar related but still a good example)

Twitter Marketing for bars


See they can be fun and current…


Leveraging real-time on Twitter

Twitter is not a one-way tool, The real power of Twitter begins when we use it as a communication tool.

Tweets do not last long! In fact, the time before a tweet ‘goes stale’ is actually…

25 minutes

Really most traffic on a tweet (let’s treat them one at a time even retweets) happens within the first 20 minutes but can be searched on Twitter for 7 days then people could see any tweet on your profile forever.

So in short, your tweet, it really won’t last long so what we must do is… Leverage real-time on Twitter as much as we can.

But how can we do this effectively? 

With Twitter Trends!

Twitter trends are, put simply, a list of hashtags that are trending on Twitter right now. Using these trends can be incredibly powerful but also incredibly dangerous.

Here is a word of warning

This should go without saying, but never jump onto a trending topic until you understand what it is and why it’s trending. One important cautionary tale comes from the generally lighthearted social media team at DiGiorno’s Pizza, who mistook the anti-domestic violence #WhyIStayed hashtag campaign as something goofy and fun. This simple mistake was a PR disaster, and would have been completely avoidable had the team simply read a half-dozen of the related tweets.

Key Point: Always research the hashtag and see what it is really about

Okay, so with that warning out of the way we can look at how we can leverage these trends on our Twitter page;

In the left sidebar you will see this list of top trending hashtags

It is important to make sure the trends are “tailored to you” by pressing the ‘change’ button. This will localize the trends to you and be more targeted to your industry and your followers.

using twitter effectively as a bartender

From this list what can we use to further our influence in the industry and ultimately get more reach/engagement?

After some initial research and checking out 6/7 of the tweets we can see that;

  • #MoreInCommon is actually for an event based on women speakers.
  • #TuesdayMotivation is a generic day by day hashtag that can be utilized
  • #TravelTuesday is similar
  • #DayoftheGirl is a hashtag based around women’s empowerment

So in our industry it would be safe to say that we could use #TuesdayMotivation & #TravelTuesday to our advantage and maximize our reach.

For instance, we could have a photo of a Daiquiri and a bottle of rum.

Caption: If we can’t get to Cuba then we are going to make Cuba come to us #TravelTuesday ain’t that right @HavanaRum

Next could be a photo of a close up of the bubbles in a pint glass looking refreshing

Caption: This is for all you out there looking for a little #TuesdayMotivation not long to go until 5 pm! Keep it up

The best thing about Twitter trends is that they are continuously changing and you can’t be stuck for ideas. So go ahead and take a look at how you can use them in your venue.

Another great way to leverage Twitter in real-time is to be the first to tweet about what is going on right here and now. Don’t be afraid

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Available tools to make your life easier


Buffer is one of the best tools out there, and more importantly to only have three social media platforms attached it is completely free for the basic package, which is all you will need right now.

Its basic function is to make scheduling all your posts a lot easier, but it has extra functionality in terms of analytics of your posts and an incredible post time optimizer. It will trawl through your previous posts to set out the best times of the day where you get the most engagement and set your posts to publish then. Of course you can schedule for your own time too if you need the post to be time-specific.

Here’s how to set it up for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – you will have to have a smartphone with Instagram downloaded for you to be able to schedule Instagram posts using Buffer.

Step 1

Your first step is to obviously create your account at

Using Buffer to market my bar

Hit ‘Create Account’ and you will see this page 

buffer and marketing a bar

Now it’s time to connect your Social Networks, It’s pretty simple at this point. So go ahead and click connect on the Twitter ‘Connect’ icon. Sign in to your Twitter account and the account will be connected

For Facebook, we want to press the ‘Page’ icon. It will look like you’re connecting your profile and then at the end you have the option to choose the page so don’t be scared of it trying to post to your personal account – It won’t unless you have hit the ‘profile’ icon. So go through the system and connect now

NOTE: you will have to be the admin of the Facebook page in order to connect

For Instagram, it is a little harder. Instagram doesn’t allow third parties to post on your behalf. So what Buffer has to do is send you a push notification to tell when your post is ready to be scheduled. Then it will copy the photo and your caption over to Instagram for you.

So you need to do two things for this to happen

  1. You need to have the ‘Buffer App’ downloaded onto your phone

  2. You need to have the ‘Instagram App’ on your phone and to be logged in to your Instagram account.

So go ahead and do those two things before trying to connect your Instagram account. Login to the Buffer App using the same login that you used on your computer.

Done it yet?

Cool, now connect your Instagram Account.

Any issues with any of this, then check out the Buffer FAQ’s here;

Now the exciting bit… Scheduling those posts

Step 2 – Scheduling

This is a great video that shows you the basics of Buffer scheduling


‘If This Then That’ is an online tool that allows you to create recipes around all your services. Starting from as simple as IF – the weather app on your phone says it is raining – THEN – You will get a text to your phone telling you to remember your umbrella.

Here’s a few examples of what is available right now (there are thousands of recipes), This free tool is great for getting your automation correct.

A quick word on Automation: Good marketers know how to scale automation whilst still keeping it personal. If you feel as though your automation is detrimental to your customers experience then don’t do it! However, there are many ways that you can utilise automation tools and still keep your customer happy. 

Marketing your bar for free

So let’s look at how this helps us within a venue with regards to our social media marketing.

The multitude of applets (these used to be called recipes) means that you can pretty much do anything. Below you can see that any new Instagram photo that I upload to Be A Better Bartender’s Instagram will automatically also post a tweet with the image to Be A Better Bartenders Twitter account. Meaning that I am saving valuable time not having to do these things twice.

If you don’t have your Instagram and Facebook’s linked this is also a great way of cross-sharing onto your Facebook feed.

Use IFTTT to market my bar

Have a play around with all the different recipes and let me know if you find some absolute game-changers.

Trello Photo Bank

I live my life through Trello, I actually cannot remember how i functioned without it, for the record I am NOT an affiliate of Trello. I just believe it to be a great tool that can be easily adapted to suit your needs.

The function that i will focus on right now is how to use it has your social media photobank but there are lots of ways that you can adapt the tool to help with your day to day stuff within the business as well.

This method is particularly helpful if you are collaborating with others in your social media team. It is a centralized location that lots of you can access meaning that you will be never stuck for an image.

So firstly; What is a photobank?

Put simply, it is a bunch of photo’s which have been pre-vetted for quality, which are ready to be pushed out at any time. Meaning that you always have images to fall back on. Even to the point where you can trust someone else to post them.

Seems like a no brainer really yeah?

Well you will be surprised how many people take their photo’s in the 2-minute window they have between cleaning the ice machine and serving the customers. which can ultimately lead to the “That will do” attitude.

Creating your photo dump

So open a Trello account, It’s free, and make your self a Social Media Board. Here are the step by step instructions on how to do this from Trello themselves. Don’t worry though, it is a very easy process.

Repost App

Download this app to your smartphone. One of the best ways of getting User Generated Content onto your Instagram feed

This video shows you exactly how to set up and use the Repost App

I would suggest that when you copy the original caption to your Instagram repost you add some of your own words before quoting the original caption. I also suggest that you delete the repost tag (it will be @repostapp) because you are using the free version

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The 4-1-1 rule and driving traffic to the website

I first came across this rule on the Marketo blog, you can read their full blog post on the 4-1-1 rule here.

To be successful with social media marketing, your business has to strike a balance between the amount of self-promotion it does and the amount of engagement and conversation it participates in.

Of course, you want to use your social media accounts to directly push business, but if that is all we do, we won’t gain many followers or engagement and we won’t be very successful.

This rule is a good way to make sure you are striking a balance between promoting your own business and using social media to connect with others. It also gives you a strategy you can follow as you post to social media, so that your posts are strategic and you can keep track of what your ratio of self-promoting posts to fun/educational posts.

Implementing The 4-1-1 Rule In Your Bar

enough waffle. Here is the crux of it…
try scheduling four educational or entertaining emails mixed with one “soft promotion” (e.g. attend an event – come to our happy hour – try our new xyz) and one “hard promotion” (e.g. sign up to our email list to receive xyz – download this voucher to grab your xyz ).
So in the case of your venue it could be this…

NOTE: these are only examples there are many  ways that you could do it! 


  1. “The sun is out, the birds are singing, is it even possible to dislike this city this time of year! and how pretty does our bar look?!” (image of outside)

  1. ” Ever wondered how to make a mojito? Well, let us show you… this is …(name)…. and they are mixing one up for you right now, the absolute perfect way for you to feel like you are on holiday even when you are not!” (video of bartender making drink and explaining it – blackboard in background with 2-4-1 offers – note this isn’t a soft sell or hard sell it’s just good placement)

  1. “How do you like your Daiquiri? Flavoured or straight-up classic? We’ve been having a bit of an argument about here and thought we would throw it out to you guys to settle it! so who’s team are you on? (name here) who says flavoured all the way or (name here) who thinks that’s blasphemous! (Instagram- would be #teamnameone or #teamnametwo – Facebook, comment for team one like for team two – Twitter, retweet or like) (image of the two team members head to head in a boxing pose)

**** Note a great idea with this one above is to take the commenters and DM them with an offer for daiquiris when they show the message on a certain date and time – just because we have hit send doesn’t mean that the post is dead****

  1. Facebook live video of a Saturday night with people enjoying themselves (you are giving people FOMO) – note – don’t go longer than 30 seconds unless it is a planned out video.

  1. “It’s Friday at last! Get home, get your glad rags on and come see us! we will be waiting. Also we promise there will be no spreadsheet chat or anything about how Janine’s kid is doing at college and how he isn’t a bad lad really. Just good music, good drinks and good times” (image or video of a bartender holding up offers on Blackboard with drinks in shot. “see more about our happy hour prices here – Link to website”

  1. “****This cocktail could be yours for free!****

We like to reward our customers here and say thank you every once in a while. We are just good like that. All that you guys need to do is sign up to our mailing list here (insert link), make a cup of coffee and watch the vouchers roll in.”

Notice how these final two posts – the soft sell and the hard sell both direct people to a website?

We want customers to sign up to receive emails from us. Ultimately this means that they are opting in to receive information from us. So we can be pretty sure that they like the brand, the venue and are interested in what we have to say.

The soft sell (#5) doesn’t directly tell people to sign up, it gets people to the website in general, here they can find out more about us and what we are about. Whereas the hard sell (#6) actively encourages them to sign up.

But why does this work?

If you think about it like this …

Marketing a bar

There is the 4-1-1 rule laid out on the table.

The educational or entertaining posts are to designed to allow you to have lots of engagement and to make people stop and look at your p0st on their overly crowded timeline.

If you only had these posts then your engagement would be good but would you make any money as a business? Most likely not. Especially if you are trying to build your brand.

Okay, so if we take away the entertaining or educational posts then we are left with just the soft sell and the hard sell. If these were the only things that were posted then you might make a few extra customers but the lack of engagement means that they are seen by A LOT less people.

So the posts NEED each other to work. The 4 draw them in and the other 2 knocks them out of the park.

Key Takeaways:

  • Four educational/entertaining posts

  • One soft sell that drives to website

  • One hard sell that asks outright for the reader to do something


Example Social Media Calendar 

These example social media calendars are to be used in conjunction with the 4-1-1 rule. Here is a photo but the original template is also attached. Now it isn’t for me to do all the work for you but you can use this as a starting point.




Take a look at how the core posts are ordered, we are trying to gain engagement and traction before we hit the customer with enticement to buy.

All you have to do is add these to your buffer feeds that we discussed earlier and let the magic of the 4-1-1 rule take over.

Still don’t get what the 4-1-1 rule means?

The easiest way to understand the 4-1-1 rule and how to structure your week is to think of it has a meet up in a bar

Stay with me on this…

You walk into a bar with your friends and you spot an attractive person who you want to talk to.

You walk straight up to them and tell them that your parents are outside and would love to meet them…

What’s the likelihood that they just tell you to go away?

Pretty high I’d say.

Rewind a little, you walk up and ask questions, build your relationship, go on a few dates, kiss.

Then you bring up that your parents would like to meet them…

They are much more likely to say yes

That’s what the 4-1-1 rule does, it builds a relationship so you can ask the hard questions like… Come to my bar and spend lots and lots of money, please?

Share this section: The 4-1-1 rule is the key to marketing your bar

Crafting The Perfect Social Update To Properly Market Your Bar

So this rundown is what matters when it comes to your soft sells and your hard sells which we covered in the 4-1-1 rule above.

If you haven’t read up on that yet and just skipped it, then go back now. Together these two things are very powerful.

So the first question is…How does the human mind work when it comes to Social Media? 

Well I’ll tell you, but first in order to understand this process, we have to understand where it came from.

We have Donald Miller from StoryBrand to thank for this one.


The brain is lazy! is doesn’t want to do the work if it doesn’t have to.

So when we craft our social updates we do the work so the customer’s brain doesn’t have to.

What you can see below is the basic storyline to many blockbuster movies according to the StoryBrand narrative method… And, believe it or not, this is going to help us craft the perfect Social updates.

Let’s delve in. Marketing a bar for free

So take Harry Potter:

Main Character = Harry Potter

he encounters a problem = the fear of death from Voldemort and the end of the world as he knew it

He meets his guide = Dumbledore

Who helps him develop a plan and helps in the best way he can = destroy the Horcruxes and kill Voldemort

which ultimately leads to the outcome = everyone happy, harry is a hero

Seriously think of a film and try this out!

Now, How Do We Put This Into A Social Media Perspective?

well, let’s take a look at a typical social media post that you will most likely have seen on your own timelines

“2-4-1 cocktails tonight! Finish at 10pm so don’t miss out!” 

So what’s happening here? What’s wrong with this update?

This type of post makes the main character be the Bar.

The studies show that the human mind just won’t be interested in this and will just skip straight past on their timeline. [need research link here]

Don’t be worried a hell of a lot of companies make themselves into the main character instead of the customer. The good news is that it is easy to fix.

Here we go – let’s take the same subject and make it work for the human brain.

Main Character = the customer
he/she encounters a problem = stuck for a place to go out that doesn’t cost them too much money but they need to relax
He/she meets his guide = Your bar
Who helps him develop a plan and helps in the best way we can = 2-4-1 cocktails at your bar and the promise that it will be a great night out
which ultimately leads to the outcome = great night out, money saved

Take a look below

Marketing a bar for free

So that is the same message, we are telling people that there are two for one cocktails on offer

But this time we have created a narrative

But which one would you be more inclined to engage with?

The original post that you are most likely to see on your feed;

“2-4-1 cocktails tonight! Finish at 10pm so don’t miss out!” 

or the one in a narrative which makes the customer the focus?

“If you are wondering where to go this Friday night, don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. With the best staff, best music and the best atmosphere. Let us make sure you have an amazing Friday night. Plus, don’t forget, it’s 2-4-1 on cocktails right up until 10pm!”

I know which I would read…

So just to recap;

Make the potential customer the Main Character

They will have a problem – i.e they want somewhere to get cheaper drinks – this can be any problem

Then they meet a guide – which is your bar

Who gives them a plan – The happy hour – this can be any plan that provides a solution to the problem

A happy outcome – the customer has found exactly what they are looking for and has an amazing time because they followed your plan

If your post follows this route then you have crafted the perfect Social post

Note: this method is best employed in the ‘soft sell’ and ‘hard sell’ steps of the 4-1-1 rule.

If you haven’t read that section yet then go back and give it a read

Share this section: Crafting the perfect Social update

User-Generated Content

User-generated content comes in all shapes and sizes. It could be as simple as sharing a photo that was taken within your venue by a customer or even highlighting a great review on TripAdvisor.

I think that this definition from the Buffer Blog perfectly sums up what User Generated Content is.

“The easiest way to think about user-generated content is this: brands taking the best-of-the-best user content from around the web and featuring it on their own social media or other platforms while giving credit to the original creator (user).”

It is no secret that millennials will soon be the main spenders in our bars no matter where we are.

The love for User Generated Content first started for me after I saw this infographic below from Crowdtap. Which really outlines just how much our customers trust what other customers say. In fact they trust what a stranger says more than a well thought out and executed sales post onto your timeline.

Marketing a bar for free



In the available tools to make your lives easier section earlier on we briefly touched on the Repost App

If you missed it then go ahead and [skip back here]

This is a really important part of leveraging User Generated Content on Instagram. If you haven’t already downloaded this then go ahead and get it now on your smartphone.

Okay, now bring up your Instagram app and type the name of your bar in the search box

Don’t press your bar’s profile but instead look for the location symbol

This will bring up any posts made in your location. Sorted by ‘Top Posts’ which are the ones with the highest level of engagement.

And… By newest to oldest

Here you will find a whole heap of goodies and great content for you to work with.

From here you can follow the instructions in the video from the earlier section to start re-posting some gems


Back in 2016 Facebook changed the way that people can use Social Media (EDIT:As of Jan 2018 this is even more relevant). This is why you are more likely to see a friend or family post pop up on your timeline rather than a brands.

Related Content: 8 User-Generated Content Trends We Learned from 25 Million Facebook Posts 

This means only one thing for us. We need actual people to talk about us and they need to talk about us truly.

Look at it this way.

You post about how amazing the bar looks and how people are really enjoying their night with you.

That’s great. That’s correct. However….

If one person in your bar posts the same content but on their own timeline then their friends and family are more likely to see it then they were to see yours.

Make sense?

There is really two things to take into account.

  1. Social Proof: People are more likely to take a recommendation from a complete stranger than the brand that you represent.


It’s hard to trust a brand when they say they are great. Of course they will say they are great. But coming from a real person who has no reason to lie means that the customer can trust that recommendation

  1. The Facebook Algorithm: As i outlined above, there will be more people organically seeing your brand in a positive light because it is posted from a personal profile rather than a brand page/business page

So here’s what you can do to leverage User Generated Content on FB

  1. Get your staff to create their own content for the bar and post on their own timelines
  2. Start a weekly photo contest with your customers. Make sure that they tag the bar.
  3. Feature your staff or customers in your photo/video posts and encourage them to share your content.
  4. Simply just ask your regulars if they minded posting some positive content! It can sometimes be that simple.

Share this section:User-generated content

Example Posts From  around the web you should follow

Okay, so the big companies will pay for their reach but we can still learn a thing or two from them about how to set up your feed.

Reds True BBQ

Go see their Facebook

Red’s the popular BBQ chain of restaurants has a Facebook feed that reads like a blog post.

From looking at their feed it is very obvious that they are famous for their food

Go ahead and have a look through

Here’s an example;

market your bar for free

Notice here the use of the wordings

Red’s refers to its customers has “Believers” and offers up the new menu item as “for worship”

They are sticking to their Voice


Five Guys

See their Facebook page

Five guys are absolutely brilliant at using national days to promote their burgers.

This is known as trend surfing. Which our friends over at have written about recently 

Here’s some examples

Notice how they still use photo’s of their main product in these images.

Key Takeaway:

  • It is great to trend surf but you must keep images and posts relevant still

  • people actively search for these national days so your reach will be better


See their Facebook page

Wendy’s restaurant is famous for its witty responses but what i like the mosts about their feed is that they always keep true to their brand colours in all of their posts

The key point here is that when you are skimming through the images on your own feed you know that this is a Wendy’s post without reading any of the copy.

This kind of notoriety is exactly what you should be aiming for and following this guide is exactly how you will do that.

These brands stick directly to their own brand guidelines and also the golden rules that I outlined at the top of this guide. 

  • Use your brand voice

  • Use your brand colours 

  • Always showcase your products 

  • Piggyback the national activation days with trend surfing 

Share this section: Examples to follow to help market your bar

Interesting Statistics To Keep In Mind


65% of people expect an answer back on Twitter within an hour… How many of can say that you use Twitter as an effective customer conversation tool?

marketing a bar


Fridays, which receive more comments, likes, and shares than any other day of the week.



Pages with 1 to 9,999 fans: 28 interactions per post  –  10,000 to 99,999 fans: 118 interactions per post. – 100,000 to 499,999 fans: 385 interactions per post.

Interactions = Likes, shares, comments, retweets 

How to market a bar properly

So when you see low numbers next to your posts that you worked so hard on just remember that you aren’t doing as badly as you think. Facebook & Twitter have been hitting us hard with the algorithm’s that are in place. At least now you can tell exactly what is an average amount of engagement and have that as your benchmark that you have to beat

Extra little bits of interesting information:

  • On average, Instagram sees a whopping 80 million photos being shared PER DAY

  • Snapchat’s video views have increased over 400% from May 2015 to May 2016.

  • Facebook has 1.71 billion active users, holding 18% of the market share.


Share this section: Keep your eyes out for this

Best Tips To Increase Reach

Your ultimate aim should be to increase your reach.

But what exactly is reach?

Well our friends over at buffer define it as;

The estimated number of people who see a specific piece of your content at least once during a time period

So put simply,

It is the amount of eyes that see what you are posting.

So let’s look at some methods you can use to get your posts in front of more eyes

Employee Advocacy

What Is Employee Advocacy?

In it’s most simple matter of fact kinda way, it is the promotion of an organisation by its own employees on their own social media channels.

So in your case…

Your employees can be very reliable advocates to your bar and social media is the perfect platform for exercising this.

When you post things from your bar’s social media accounts it will of course be effective, otherwise we wouldn’t do it. But that can seem like a marketing message to your audience even though you do care about all of your customers

By encouraging your staff to get involved in the endorsement of your bars, their message will come across as more sincere and less of a marketing ploy.

Employees posting relevant content to their own feeds will show a different perspective to your bar and communicate what they see as the most valuable aspects to your bar’s brand.

Also, it is odds on that your staff are exactly the same type of people who you want to be your customers.

Tapping into their social audiences means that you have instant access to a perfect preferred audience that will want to see exactly what you have to offer.

In order for employee advocacy to work though, it is very important for staff to have confidence in your bar, want to take part and be the advocates that you want them to be.

The ball is in your court on this one. You have to make sure that they are working in a positive atmosphere and maintaining your staff’s happiness.

So what can you do to promote employee advocacy and how do you encourage your staff to take part?

Well, perhaps the easiest way is just to go ahead and ask them.

You will be surprised how many will have no problem with this.

It can be as simple as getting them to check in on Facebook when they start their shift. You could simply get them to promote your drinks offers on a weekend and ask their friends to come down.

If they are sharing some of your business posts or taking part in the engagement on those posts then your reach will also improve dramatically. Especially because your staff’s audience will be a receptive audience.

Just asking will work in the short term.
But creating an Employee Advocacy Program is the sure-fire way to creating a longer-lasting presence on your employees feeds. You can also bring this in as part of your new employee program breeding in the idea of Employee Advocacy.

Take a look at this image. See where the advocates fit in?


employee advocacy and reach on social


Advocate: That’s you, that’s your team, that’s anyone who screams and shouts about you on a very regular basis. They (and so should you) live and breathe the brand and the bar.

Loyalist: These are your core customers, the ones who are there every Saturday night, The ones who check in on Facebook. The ones who tell everyone what an amazing night out it is at your bar.

Customer/Member: These are the people who already know about you and actively take an interest in what you post. They like/favourite your posts and occasionally share or take part in any online competitions you run

Prospect: These are those people who follow you and your social media, they come to your bar and enjoy themselves but don’t ever engage with your social media efforts

Subscriber: These are the fans who keep you at arm’s length. they know about you but don’t particularly care about you. A normal cocktail post isn’t going to make them come to your bar. They may even follow you because they like your brand but it doesn’t mean that they will ever come to your bar again. They may give the odd like here and there.

Friend/Fan/Follower: These are the group that have followed you on social media but have maybe only been once, or even never, to your bar. They will see your posts but it may not catch their attention. Your posts have to be EPIC to engage these guys.

Public: These are the people who will make your reach go into the stratosphere. When you hear about posts going ‘viral’, then the post has hit this level and is being shared by those who have never heard of you.

Notice how it all starts with your advocates? They are your ticket to hitting amazing reach.

So How Do You Create Your Own Employee Advocacy Program? (For Free Of Course)

Create A Hub.

The purpose here is to boost the reputation of the bar and not just to use employee advocacy as another marketing strategy.

Step 1: Create a separate Facebook group and call it “[your brand/bar name] Employee Social Hub”

Step 2: Each day post some pre-selected content for the team to share. See the pro tip below to do this effectively.

Step 3: Offer a monthly prize for the most amount of activity from an employee.

Customers are more likely to engage with post shares from staff members than they are with your marketing channels.

PRO TIP: Don’t post directly to the group. Post on your bar page first, then share this to the employee advocacy group. That way when the employee shares the post it won’t be shared from the group which would look spammy. It will be shared from the original post on your correct page.

Social Loops

This can sometimes be known as Social Listening

Think of your followers as your community.


Now that picture can look a little complicated for the purpose of what we need to keep our eyes on.

The basic premise is that Voices are heard, the correct person deals with and responds, issues get resolved and the customer is happy and we learn from what the community says…

Let’s break it down

We learn what our community is saying through lot’s of different mediums. Here is just a few of them that you can scour to find your audience’s voice.

Google reviews


Facebook Reviews


Feedback Forms

Facebook Comments

Step #1 – A customer raises a concern on Social Media

This may directly about your business.

For instance, it could be about service that someone received on their last visit.

Or it could be indirectly concerning your venue.

Such as a discussion on Twitter between two friends who are talking about how they didn’t feel safe in your venue because of a large group

Look out for things like this

In the age of social media, this is a common occurrence.

Facebook and Twitter are the go-to places for people to air their grievances. It is important that you read everything that gets posted, good and bad

This customer is unhappy that he wasn’t allowed into the bar

But… I believe that he is more upset that he was embarrassed in front of his parents.

Though this is worded strongly I would say that all this guy really wants is recognition of the problem that he faced.

Don’t panic, you can handle this

all you gotta do is…

Step #2 – You gotta listen to those concerns and reply accordingly

…And make sure that you are doing in in a timely fashion.

But Joel, what about if the issue can’t be solved fast?

That’s fine just make sure you let the customer know that they have been heard.

Just like this…


Step #3 – Tell the world when you make changes

Using the above as an example.

After reading this review and ‘listening’ to your customers problems you decide to send everyone who works with you on an advanced classic cocktails course.

After doing so, you are now confident that your staff can make cocktails off the menu

Most companies what just leave this here and chalk it up has a success.

But you’re better than that – you are going to tell the world that you listened to the feedback and you have made changes.

As soon as the customers believe that their voice is heard and they have the genuine power to make changes they will gladly engage with all of your content.

Make your customers feel more important with Social Loops Click To Tweet

Share this section: Increase that reach

Don’t Fall For Vanity Metrics

The important thing to remember is that social media is fun and when you are doing it you get addicted to metrics such as your reach and your engagement levels.

This isn’t a bad addiction, but unfortunately, some people get addicted to the WRONG metrics.

I have had this problem over time with Be A Better Bartender’s Social Media. When I first setup the Be A Better Bartender Facebook page I was obsessed with growing the amount of likes and followers that the page had.

I put real engagement to the back of my mind.

I had no real strategy to how i was posting.

If you have 50,000 likes on your page but only one person comments a month is that a success? Short answer is no.

It is much more beneficial to have a page with 5,000 likes but 50% of them are active within your feed. Liking, sharing and commenting on your posts.

The good news is that if you follow some or all of the steps in this guide then you are well on the way to creating a naturally great social media presence.

To make sure that you guys don’t fall into the trap of being metrics blind i have developed the Social Media Score that I absolutely encourage you to implement straight away which is highlighted below.


Developing A Social Media Table

So what is it that matters – and these are the metrics that you should be looking at.

Clicks: A large number of clicks with very few likes and shares shows that your post got their attention but didn’t deliver the exceptional quality needed for the viewer to engage. Great overall engagement with a low amount of clicks indicates that you need to work on how you pitch your content by testing different titles or visuals.
Likes: Likes lead to more attention because people naturally gravitate towards things that are popular. More likes also signal to most platform algorithms that this particular content deserves a higher spot in search results.
Shares: shares are a great indication of the quality because the sharer want’s their close connections to see it

Comments: Getting comments on your posts is a reliable sign that your content is hitting all the right points of interest.

Impressions/Reach: Impressions show how many times your post showed up in someone’s newsfeed or timeline, either because they are already following you or because someone they know has liked or shared your content. This doesn’t mean that for every impression someone actually looked at your post or even noticed it — this just means that they had a chance to

Number Of Posts: Of course all this means nothing if you haven’t posted the minimum number of posts on each platform per day to keep up your levels of consistency.

Image of how the actual league table will look if you have more than one bar. Essentially meaning that you can create a mini-league each month.

marketing your bar for free

Or, alternatively you can use this table as your yearly tracker…

marketing your bar for free


So let’s look at the figures.

‘Example’ site as 42 post likes, a social reach of 6,787 and 4 shares/retweets over the month which is a total of 6,833 interactions in the month.

The ‘Example’ site also as 4987 followers in total across all 3 channels.

So ‘total amount of interactions’ divided by the ‘number of social followers’ = Social Media Score

In this case: 6,833 divided by 4,987 =  1.37

Each month you would update the table to show who is leading if you are running it has a league. 

If you want to run it has a yearly tracker and track your progress, it is set out in a way that you can easily see exactly which months are performing better than others. It is up to you then to find out why, replicate successes and put a stop to failures.

Key Takeaways:

  • Likes, shares, reach and number of posts are what the league is based on

  • Be aware that the other factors that aren’t direct KPI’s are still important because they actually help to push the relevant KPI’s on

  • One viral post could absolutely smash the rest of the league apart


Conclusion – Get Out There & Do It

Social Media marketing without spending any money on adverts is a marathon, not a sprint. It can take months to gain traction but I promise you.

It does work!

You just have to stick at it.

Don’t jump into trying to implement all of these action points right away, just choose the ones that resonate with you and that you will enjoy.

Concentrate on those and do them to the best of your abilities. You will be rewarded.

For you guys has bartenders learning a new skill set that will make you even more valuable to your employer will take your career to the next level.

So I want you to go ahead and ask your employers for the passwords to the Social Media accounts and show them exactly what you can do! Get out there and do it.

Let’s help each other out. Comment below with exactly which of the points you will be taking forward and actioning.



For the first ten of you, that leave a comment below, i will personally review your social media channels and give you precise action points for you to go forward. Just let me know what bar or brand you are working for and what points you will be actioning first.

This is a MUST read for any #bartender who is serious about getting their #bar busier! Click To Tweet

Having worked within the hospitality trade for over 15 years I've done a lot. From scraping plates to the managing of 150+ staff and regularly creating thousands in revenue per week. My passion is creating a winning team that blows the competition away. There is no greater feeling than seeing the staff's achievements. So share away and let's all be better bartenders. | | The upkeep of this website can be thirsty work! Would you like to buy us a drink?

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  • Hey!
    Amazing post.
    Your effort is great in putting this all information into one place.
    Thank you to give us such a great information. I really enjoyed your post.

    May 9, 2019
  • Jaden

    I loved this I own a
    Mobile Bartender service for private parties however most of your lesson on social media is what I needed wow your great thanks I’m implamenting this today…

    October 27, 2018
  • Wow–what a great resource!
    Thank you for the effort in putting this all into one place.

    January 27, 2018
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