7 Essential Instagram Tips for Bars

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These days there are more small bars and quality restaurants than you could poke a stick at.

To stand out, having a social media presence is starting to become as necessary as clear ice, as people turn to Instagram or other platforms to find where their next cocktail will be enjoyed.

And competition is even hotter now that we're living healthier by drinking less, but better. Most of us would rather settle in somewhere for 2-3 handcrafted cocktails rather than bar hop all night until we’ve written off the next day.

As such, marketing any bar or restaurant successfully on social media is absolutely crucial.

Instagram and social media marketing advice for bars

We spoke to Kurtis Bosley, the creative brain behind Corretto Dee Why and Instagram account @cocktailsbykurtis, to find out the top tips he gives bars and restaurants to up their social media and digital marketing game.

You can find Living Proof on Apple PodcastsSpotify or Player FM.

1. Be genuine

Kurtis' first piece of marketing advice for bars looking to get the most out of social media is something you should keep in mind whatever you're doing, digital or otherwise.

“Don’t push or shove things down users throats because people pick up on that stuff straight away and they just turn straight off. There’s enough content on the platform these days to make someone think ‘Nup! Don’t even half like that. I’ll go and find something else’," says Kurtis.

2. Get a business account

‘Authorising’ your account by ensuring it’s registered as a business account allows you to do #3. This one is Instagram-specific - just go to your Profile > Settings > Account > Switch to professional account and follow the prompts.

3. Know your audience

Being familiar with your target audience is a non-negotiable whenever you're marketing anything. Once you’ve signed up for a business account on Instagram, you’re able to view a detailed breakdown of who follows you.

“You can view what time of day they’re on, you can view their location, their age, their gender, their everything. So you can see who your audience is, when they’re online and you can post when they’re online.”

4. Focus on the first hour of a post

It’s super important to post when more of your followers are online because the first hour of an Instagram post either makes it or breaks it. Instagram and other social media channels' algorithms are always changing, but most people well versed in digital marketing believe this one is staying fairly constant.

“The more attention your post gets in the first hour, the more attention it’s gonna get over time. So if it doesn’t get any traction in the first half hour, Instagram sinks it. So you’ve got half an hour to make sure that post is absolutely killer.”

5. Use stories or ask questions in your captions

A great way to boost engagement with your social media posts in that critical initial time period is to promote it with a story. Point your followers to the post or ask for their thoughts on your Instagram caption. These engagement tactics now also apply to other social media platforms - Facebook has stories and you can ask for your followers' input wherever you are!

6. Boost your posts to your target demographic

Once you know your audience, Instagram and other social media platforms allow you to promote your posts to your chosen demographic. If you're a cocktail bar or restaurant, you want to promote your social media posts to people within a certain radius because, obviously, they're the ones who are actually likely to come.

"I can create a post for an upcoming event and then on these digital platforms geolocate (promote) it to my chosen location, within 2km and to my exact demographic and market. This will push it out to tens of thousands of people for comparatively little money."

7. Consider how your overall page looks

This one is vital and often overlooked. It's fairly common knowledge in digital marketing circles that website landing pages must be visual and engaging to keep visitors from clicking off straight away. It's time we applied those theories to our social media profiles and pages.

How does your page look when someone lands on it? Do the colours of the different photos go well and balance each other out?

Have a look at Kurtis’s Instagram page and you’ll know what he’s talking about; Colour coordinated cocktails form a digital mosaic of delicious drinks that scream “sip me through your phone”.

“Balance that as much as you’re balancing a photo. You’ll see that my drinks are particularly framed, you’ll see I use particular colours depending what was before and after. You’ll see I do things with magazines, so I’ll try to filter those in amongst drink photos, maybe once every 8 or 9 posts.”

To listen to our in-depth discussion with Kurtis Bosley about Instagram, social media, digital marketing, starting your first bar or restaurant and more, listen to Episode 16 of the Living Proof podcast in the player above, or on your podcast app of choice.

You can find Living Proof on Apple PodcastsSpotify or Player FM.