Who Should Look After Your Restaurant or Bar Social Media?

After working both client-side and in agencies over the past 15 years, I’ve come to the conclusion that day-to-day marketing is managed much more effectively in-house.  I think there is still a role for marketing agencies to play, but their specialism and value usually lies in providing advice on a new strategy direction, developing new branding and in providing new marketing collateral for international, national, important seasonal or large-scale marketing campaigns. 

Independent marketing consultants can also help bridge the gap when your in-house skills don’t meet the mark and you need additional part-time support each month or on a seasonal basis. 

I bring up this subject, as I believe this point is particularly important when it comes to managing your social media.  When it’s done well, social media should happen on a day-to-day or even an hour-to-hour basis.  To do it well, it requires a deep knowledge of your business and your specialisms.  Marketing agencies and consultants often work for a range of businesses and sectors, so they are not necessarily experts in your subject.  They don’t live and breathe your business in the way an employee might come to do. 

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I sometimes describe the difference between working for an agency and working in-house for a client as being like the difference between two people who are just dating and two people who are married.   This is especially the case when you’re working in the hospitality industry.  There are going to be plenty of times when you want your social communications to react to events that are taking place in the evening or over the weekend.   If you’ve got an in-house person who’s happy to work different types of shifts, who will attend events and tweet or post on your behalf whilst managing other aspects of the event as well, you just end up with a much better, more authentic form of communication.  If you choose to farm this activity out to an agency or an off-site consultant to manage, I don’t think it’s ever going to be quite the same.  It’s likely to feel more hollow and corporate and provide no real insight of what’s actually going on in your venue.  

Your marketing manager can also multi-task on other activities as, of course, you won’t just need him or her for social media.  With the right person, it’s not just more effective, it’s also a more cost-effective approach to making the most of your annual marketing budget each year.  If your business is big enough, the best case scenario is to have a dedicated Social Media manager who completely focuses on your online customer engagement week in, week out.  If on the other hand, you're a small owner/manager business, then you (the owner) or your assistant should be keeping an eye on and responding to your Twitter and Facebook feeds via mobile on a daily basis.   The smaller you are, the more likely it is too that Twitter and Facebook can be your principal modes of marketing.  I've encountered a growing number of businesses where the owner/manager has decided to use social media as their one and only marketing channel and they are totally hands on with its day-to-day management.

If your business feels uncertain about what to do on social media, then training is a key compentent for getting up to speed.  Attend seminars and events, read all the books you can, or better still get some one-to-one coaching from a social media specialist.  When you invest in half a day or one day or training, it can make all the difference between flustering around with no focus to having a clear idea, the knowledge and the tools to handle your social media more effectively.  

What do you think?  Is social media better placed in the hands of your team or external experts?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Also, click here if you'd like to find out more about The Loop's social media performance improvement sessions for in-house hospitality marketing teams.