Author: Danil Nevsky
The trend of talking about social media has come and gone. At least talking about social media in the way we were five years ago. Everyone knows what a QR code is, and Instagram Stories, posts and ‘How to’ videos are everywhere. And there is a huge list of social media bartenders on YouTube and Instagram who are gaining millions of views creating cocktails online with fancy garnishes, with even TikTok bringing flair bartending back into the mainstream.
Yet bars and bartenders have failed to capitalise on these new advances in technology properly to drive their business, careers and the industry forward oﬄine. Personally, I don’t blame them, as bar owners and bartenders spend upwards of 50, 60 or 70 hours a week running bars while I have the ability to dedicate all of my time to working on social media in the bar industry. I understand the frustration of them looking at me, and others like me, as ‘not the real thing’ and naturally rejecting us.
So, instead of complaining or criticising those who are on the front lines tending to the needs of guests and making delicious cocktails, I have written this article, broken down into two insights into social media, to help bartenders understand the importance of social media and how to use it.
Advancing your bartending career
It is no secret that your advancement up the bar industry career ladder is highly dependent on the quality of your personal network within the community. The usual phrase being: ‘It is more important about WHO you know than WHAT you know.’
But I think this statement is absolute bullocks and usually does not work in the bar industry in the long term. Our industry is built on gossip and rumours, with scandalous stories travelling faster than cocktail recipes. A bartender that gains a bad reputation will have to work five times as hard to prove themselves. So the above statement should be rephrased to: ‘It is more important WHO knows about YOU than knowing WHAT you know.’
In other words, it is about showcasing your knowledge, skill and ability to others. How you choose to do that is up to you, but in the oﬄine world this comes down to working in a bar and participating in cocktail competitions.
Let’s play a game of pretend: you are a bartender working in a smaller city like Innsbruck. The population is small, so the bar community is small, and naturally there are only a limited number of businesses that have a high-end cocktail programme. Now ask yourself the following questions:
How many potential bar owners are going to watch me work?
How many potential brand ambassadors are going to stop by to give a training?
How many of them are going to have the time to pay attention to or even recognize my work?
You are completely limited to the local bar community and its current level. Both financially and in terms of your career growth. There is already a bar manager in the top hotel in the area with the best salary in the city. The ONLY way to gain that position is if they quit. So your option is to get in line and wait your turn, hoping that after years of carefully working your way up the traditional hierarchy and ladder, your day will come.
At least that was the way until the internet came along!
Now, at the click of a button, you can share a picture of your cocktail and its recipe with the world, and then a bartender from the other side of the world can discover it. You end up having a conversation – sharing ideas, asking questions and forming a connection!
You do this again, but this time you share a video of you shaking a drink.
You do this again, but this time it is you visiting a local beer brewery.
You do this again, but then you’re sharing a bottle of a local schnapps or spirit not available anywhere else.
And again … and again … and again
Now you’re having conversations with bartenders all over the world. Your local friends, guests and colleagues are seeing how active you are and possibly talking about your posts, as they, too, had never been to that brewery or tasted that distillate. People are coming to your bar to talk to you, the bar is getting busier and business owners are starting to notice. This is the domino eﬀect of social media.
The only reason I am able to write this article, travel the world and experience things I have never dreamt of before is because of social media. This is not a discussion but a simple fact. You can either capitalise on this or get upset about it. Adapt to the new world or be left behind.
Okay, now that you are angry enough to want to attempt to do this yourself, you may ask ‘Where do I start, Dan? If you’re so smart, what is the way forward?’
Bartenders are natural content creators who simply need to learn the tools of the trade to share their voices. Behind the bar are 100+ bottles, each with a unique story behind them, and every day you have 50+ guests come into your bar, each with a unique background and history – and no shift is ever the same all over the world. You have a goldmine of ideas to create content from.
There are three key principles to think about when creating content, called ‘The 3 Es’. These three principles define nearly 99 per cent of content all over the world across ALL social media channels. The easiest way to recognise this is by simply scrolling your Instagram feed and seeing what your non-industry friends are posting.
Funny memes, cat pictures and silly stories that make you smile, sports videos of people doing incredible things, and comedy skits about everything.This is entertainment that it is easy to digest and highly shareable. This is usually how you find NEW followers.
Somebody graduated from university, bought a car or managed to climb a mountain, they have had to overcome a big challenge and have either succeeded or failed.People become emotionally invested. They want to support, be compassionate or congratulate. This is how you BUILD a connection with your existing followers.
A trick, tip or recipe, maybe a book or an insight that someone did not know before or a solution to an existing/common problem. Sharing knowledge that you have discovered, not necessarily as an ‘expert’ in the subject.Making people’s lives better by fixing problems or inspiring. Becoming a solution to problems in a specific field and/or helping others succeed. This is how you SHOWCASE your ability in your field.
There are a lot more layers to this, and I am simplifying this to make it easier to understand. Naturally, thoughts arise such as ‘What is funny?’, ‘I don’t want to share my personal life’ or ‘I’m nervous my knowledge isn’t good enough and I could be wrong’. So here are some things I have learnt over the years of making mistakes:
1. Discipline and consistency are key.
The person who shows up for work and practices will succeed faster.
2. Own your mistakes.
Did you share the wrong info? Was the joke bad? Does your trick not work for someone else? Take responsibility but also clarify. People on the internet are from hundreds of diﬀerent cultures speaking hundreds of diﬀerent languages. Don’t assume they understood what you meant or how you explained it.
3. Your opinion matters!
There is always going to be someone funnier, smarter, faster or stronger. It actually does not matter. You are unique and irreplaceable. Your opinion is just as valid as anyone else’s, and just because someone has done something does not mean you cannot experience it for the first time or share your thoughts about it on the internet.
4. Balance is key.
There is a reason some internet ‘sensations’ blow up and then we forget about them next week. Too much of the same thing is boring. The same goes for Entertainment, Emotion and Education.
Just like learning cocktails takes time, practice and consistency, so does social media. There is NO BETTER time to start promoting yourself, your bar and your skills than NOW. You are only one post away from supercharging your career!