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The growing power of social media

For us social media is no longer a “branch of the media”, it is inherently becoming “the media” – and it’s one of the most powerful tools we have to market our business. Through trial and error we’ve realised there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model to tackling social media and recently we’ve started to find what works for us as a brand.

It’s incredibly powerful but we’ve learned you can’t simply create the accounts and then sit back and watch your audience magically grow overnight, it takes a lot of strategy and knowledge of your brand. If you don’t wholly understand your brand, you can’t expect an audience to understand your brand either. We’ve discovered our audience varies on each platform too and, to build our audience on these, we need to approach them differently.

Instagram plays a big part in marketing our business and in turn boosting footfall. Two-fifths (40%) of millennials choose a travel spot based on its Instagrammability – and I don’t think it’s any different with F&B. That’s why Instagram is so important when building your audience because you can create a snapshot of your business through great content people want to engage with and visit and, in turn, inspires them to create their own fantastic content.

Engaging with our audience is really important to us and, without doing so, we wouldn’t be able to build on it. There’s no room for being antisocial on social media and the more we engage with our audience, the more we find out about ourselves as a brand.

A whole host of campaigns have come off the back of engaging with our online audience. People often ask us to bring back specific items that are no longer on the menu, so last year we engaged our following in bringing back an old cocktail. Entitled #TheComeback, we held a serious of “battle rounds” in which people voted in Twitter and InstaStory polls on cocktails they would like to see back on the menu. #TheComeback was only supposed to be small campaign to advertise our upcoming new cocktail menu but it was incredibly successful in engaging with our audience and generating online conversation.

People even campaigned for items not on the list – weirdly we found out our Garden Martini has a cult following similar to Justin Bieber’s Beliebers! The campaign not only highlighted the importance of engagement through social media but helped us show we care about our loyal fans. The winning cocktail was announced in a blog and Instagram post, which is our most-liked photo to date.

Knowing your audience is as important as listening to them and delving into our insights led to some really successful campaigns on social. This year’s Valentine’s campaign, In Squad We Trust, is a fantastic example. Knowing our audience is predominantly female, aged 20 to 30 and engaged in campaigns around female empowerment, it was a no-brainer to create a campaign geared towards celebrating friends away from traditional Valentine’s campaigns.

In Squad We Trust encouraged people to celebrate their friends and tongue-in-cheek cocktails and a competition to win a trip to Paris for four people generated heaps of engagement. As the business expands, more people are involved with running our social media accounts, which has definitely been a hurdle to overcome in terms of maintaining our tone of voice and content style. For us, tone of voice is crucial to spark conversation, build our audience and market the business – we’re an inclusive brand and the way we speak has to reflect this.

Our tone of voice is relaxed, friendly and we love a good pun! To enable us to be cohesive across our platforms, we create social plans a month in advance so we can clearly outline our wording and ensure all our accounts maintain our tone. However, social media is reactive so it’s important to have some flexibility. Knowing your brand inside and out allows you to do this.

I’ve been in love with our brand since I first visited the Trinity branch in my university days and I’ve always had an (albeit quite unhealthy) obsession with social media. I believe they are the two most important ingredients when building an online audience. Social media is forever evolving and never sleeps, so it’s important to love it, throw caution to the wind and fully immerse yourself in every aspect. When you do it enables your audience to love it too, and there’s no greater satisfaction than people sharing the exact same love you have for your brand.

Kieran Corbitt is Social Media & Community Manager for The Alchemist, winner of the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator ‘Best Use of Social Media’ Award for 2019