Stop treating your customers like transactions!
The more we work with bar and restaurant clients to assist in their social media efforts, the more we see customers being treated as mere transactions. Sure, transactions have their place in a business; heck, your business won't survive without them, but confusing transactions with customers is a cardinal sin.
A transaction is a cold, emotionless exchange in lieu of goods received or about to receive. A customer on the other hand has a set of needs that need to be fulfilled. They are thinking about eating or drinking at your bar because they perceive you are going to go some way towards meeting those needs. Long before they ever step foot in the door they may have heard about your food from a friend, read a review about your cocktails.
What do they do next? What increasingly more and more of your customers do every day. They Google, Yelp, Facebook and Twitter you! Customers are smarter than they've ever been and they know how to do their research.
They may follow you on Twitter, “Like” you on Facebook or read your reviews on Yelp. Most likely as a bar or restaurant owner you have (or should have) a presence on Facebook and Twitter. This is the first time that you as a business owner now have a chance to influence the potential customer. Up to now, they have relied on word of mouth or looked at some static lifeless reviews online, but on Twitter and Facebook, YOU are sharing information with them. What you now share will determine their first real impression.
If you are like 70% of the bars and restaurants that use social media, you'll start talking about your happy hour pricing, sometimes in capital letters. You may then talk about a band playing that night or a special you have on the menu.
What you are forgetting however is that your customer is not a transaction and social media is not an advertising platform. A typical customer is getting bombarded multiple times a day with advertising info and is simply tuning out of the white noise in favor of a more SOCIAL interaction.
The bars and restaurants gaining the most customer loyalty, seeing the most number of conversations about their brand are those who are creating amazing experiences in their business that prompt customers to share the details online to their social networks.
The best performing businesses online create relationships with current and potential customers by sharing interesting, engaging content every day, and here's the shocking thing, most of the info will never mention a price or an offer, instead it will be a mixture of high quality images, comments from happy customers, details of local events, interesting business news.
If the image below looks like your average message on Facebook or Twitter, then go back to the drawing board. Customers want engagement, not pitches.
How do you avoid making mistakes like this? The next time you're about to press Submit/Post ask yourself if you would talk that way across the bar to a customer. If not, change the message until it matches your real voice.