Sport on the big screen can be a great driver of business but can social media help you get more fans through your doors?

Simon Delaney, who has been licensee at The Firbank in Manchester's Wythenshawe for more than 20 years, thinks so. In the last few his marketing has migrated from being primarily advertising-based to social media.

He says: "You'd pay £500 for an advert in the local press and it wa hard to monitor the impact. As technology has come on with the likes of Facebook, Google Places and Trip Advisor I can sit there for hours making sure everything is bang-on — and it's all free."

The Firbank is a family-friendly sports pub that is always open to new ideas. For example it is one of a handful where you can pay your utiility bills after. it joined the Payzone scheme.

The same applies to its approach with new technology and promoting sport.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all part of the strategy, as are text messages to customers.

 

"We signed up to this service where you can send messages from various people," Simon explains, "So for football matches you can send one with a picture of Alex Ferguson saying 'there's a big game on at The Firbank tonight'.

Facebook is often used to post about upcoming fixtures or offers such as #TemptingTuesdays with discounts on selected drinks for football matches.Simon adds that buy-in from staff helps increase the reach of posts or tweets.

"We use WhatsApp to communicate internally and we always have a push where I will say 'let's get liking or retweeting'. The reach is huge. It can go out to thousands and if we can get just one per cent in it is big for the business."

Simon believes that social media is a tool that pub businesses of all styles can ill afford to ignore.


"There are still pubs saying they don't need social media but it's like a DJ saying I'm always going to use vinyl or CDs. You've got to go with the times or you'll get swallowed up.

"If it gets you one customer who spends a tenner a week it's £520 a year. Ten of them and it's five grand."

A few miles down the road in the city centre, Jacqui Cathcart has worked hard to learn the benefits of social media since she took on the manager's job at Hydes pub The Grey Horse. The sports-focused pub is small and relies on passing and tourist trade.

She says: "I tweet a lot about the ales we have on and what games we are showing. Twitter, Facebook and the A-boards are all used to let people know what fixtures are coming up. Social media is really helpful for the business, as is Trip Advisor. There are some fantastic reviews and some not so nice ones but I can hack that. It's very good for the tourist trade.

"We keep the activity going by retweeting other businesses in the area. Hydes retweets what we have got on as well, so you can work together."

Help is at hand

Big brands are upping their game when it comes to helping pubs promote their offers online. Through its online Managers Office portal BT Sport offers pubs support digitally, with posters, in-house advertising screens and with access to Inapub's very own SocialConnect service, which helps you update fixtures, your website and social channels from one place. Sky also has packages of support for pubs, including its pub finder and online marketing material and advice, available at MySkySports.com.