The Social Side of Pubs and their Punters – Whose round is it?

So, you are sitting in the pub and the person you’re with has gone to the bar or toilet, leaving you all on your own. What do you do? Apart from hoping that they haven’t gone to the loo for a number two, you whip out your phone and pretend to look busy. We’ve all been there and we all do it! You delete some emails, look at your pictures or log on to social media so your digital friends can keep you company. Why can’t we be alone for less than five minutes?

Waiting in a pub for someone who is running late is even worse because you don’t know how long your loneliness is going to last. The drink you’ve brought them is getting warm. Are those people laughing at you? How long can you look at your phone and keep an eye on the spare chair?

It’s ironic that social media has become our saviour during moments we think are socially embarrassing. Even when we’re at a table surrounded by our friends we still can’t help but check out the digital world. Then a few drinks and a few more hours later we’re posting pictures and commenting on the great night we just had. The explosion of social media sharing has helped term the phrase (one that I personally hate) ‘FOMO’ or ‘fear of missing out’ (I have a fear of clowns not of missing out). People feel compelled to share every detail of their social lives online, which often involves them at a pub, club or restaurant drinking and having fun.

These social venues will often only get local trade and rely heavily on word-of-mouth promotion to get new customers through the door. So if social media users feel the need to tell the world about their Saturday night, these establishments need to get a name drop and exploit the free publicity.
Conversations about the social scene are going on whether the venue is part of them or not. Public engagement is important so venues such as pubs can reach their target audience, increase their brand awareness and portray their venue in the best possible light. The main aim is more customers through the door.
Restaurants are winning business every day; their unique selling point is the type of food they serve, which has helped them embrace social media. However the actual spend in restaurants and pubs isn’t that different. Consumers now spend an average of £17.06 and £15.30 each time they visit a restaurant or pub respectively. That means if a pub got one extra customer a day they’d be looking at £459 extra a month or over £5500 a year!

Twitter is a perfect social tool for pulling in punters. It offers a real time what’s on guide for both locals and visitors to the town or area. When I turn up somewhere new and want to watch the football it only takes a few minutes on Twitter to find out what places are showing the game. But whether its sports a pub quiz or live music, pubs need to let the customers know what entertainment they have on offer. Even traditional pubs that only offer a pint and a packet of crisps, whose entertainment is the local drunk can still benefit. After all it’s the customers which make a pubs experience unique, so they should help them spread the word with a few engaging posters. People use their phone when waiting for a drink or for their friends to arrive which is the perfect opportunity for a pub to get a ‘like’ or a follow. Even a ‘check in’ so people know where they are.

The Dolphin Pub in Hackney, London, has become a legendary late night drinking den over the years. This notorious after hour’s party venue is 150 years old but with 21.8k Twitter followers it is far from being behind the times. The @The_Dolphin_Pub twitter page has become so popular for its straight talking, funny, rude and controversial tweets. Instead of plugging deals or events the pub has engaged with its customers with more down to earth tweets which have gained attention and got people talking. Here are a couple recent ones to give you an idea:

The Dolphin ‏@The_Dolphin_Pub ·Mar 6
Don’t wanna get too carried away by the bit of sun but I’m on my way to the park with five cold Magners. In swimming trunks.

The Dolphin ‏@The_Dolphin_Pub •Mar 6
F*****! The ‘S’ has rubbed off my Speedos. I wondered why everyone was staring.

Done well social media is significantly better value and vitally a more effective way of marketing than advertising in the local paper. Pubs are an integral part of our lives and society. They help us relax, have fun, meet friends and socialise, so it makes sense for Pubs to let us help them through social media. Customer engagement through social media could help bring any dying trade back to life. A few ‘likes’ could result in a few more punters spending their pounds on pints.

So the next time you take a drunken ‘selfie’ make sure you let everybody know where you were having so much fun. Who knows, maybe sometime in the future the social worlds will become so intertwined that you might receive a notification when it’s your round.

Jamie Hughes


Marketme is a leading small business to small business news, marketing advice and product review website. Supporting business across the UK with sponsored article submissions and promotions to a community of over 50,000 on Twitter.