If you’re not using Snapchat for your bar or restaurant, you’ll know exactly why you should be after listening to this episode. Snapchat has grown so fast that within one year it has grown just as fast as Twitter did in it’s first 4 years. If you’re looking to get the 20 to 30 year olds in your business, you must listen to the episode where Nick gets expert advice from Louie LaVella, one of the bar and nightclub industries #1 social media marketing experts.
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Nick: Welcome, guys, to episode number seven of Bar and Restaurant Breakthroughs, Snap Chat Secrets to Boost Your Bar Promotion’s ROI with Louie LaVella. I want to give you a quick little bio and intro to Louie.
Louie Lavella’s clients are entertainment personalities, nightclubs, concerts, festivals, and he creates brand and marketing strategies to engage and connect with their audiences. Working with the shark infested waters of the nightlife and music industry as a marketing and branding consultant, LaVella has been delivering high profit solutions to live entertainment events, musicians, and venues for years.
With over 20 years of experience in the nightlife industry and extensive development and production experience with national television projects, author, speaker, event producer, and coach, LaVella has produced and marketed over 30 live music concerts in the past few years.
He was the winner of the Niagara Falls Awards Promoter of the Year in 2012, Juno Awards Dance Category committee, and he has also been called ‘mediapreneur,’ combining a successful TV executive producer and host role with being a sought-after marketing and branding consultant in the nightlife and music industry. In his television days, he had the opportunity to interview the likes of Lady Gaga, Richard Branson, Backstreet Boys, and more. Louie, that’s a lot of accomplishments right there.
Louie: Not a bad few years, right?
Nick: Yeah. So today, we’re going to talk about Snap Chat. And for those of you who may not understand what Snap Chat is or are not into social media or getting into the technical side of things, we’re going to give you some very simple ways to have Snap Chat working for you. And we’ll explain why you cannot ignore Snap Chat these days, how fast it’s growing, and where really the younger demographics are, if that’s one of your key target markets. But we do see a lot of older people starting to get on this. But Louie, you’re a much better expert than I am about Snap Chat, which is why I reached out to you for this interview. Why don’t you kind of give us an overview of, what is Snap Chat?
Louie: Absolutely. Like most new social media platforms, usually the younger demographic jumps into the new things and tries them out like crazy. Tens of millions, hundreds of millions, jump into them, and Snap Chat was one of the latest ones. Of course, it’s not that new anymore and it has exploded throughout the world. But for the most part, people think of the younger demographic on there, and it’s no longer the case, like you just mentioned.
In a nutshell, to explain what Snap Chat is, it really started out as private messaging using quick video snaps or quick image snaps. What you would do is you would have friends that you would follow each other. So let’s say me and you follow each other on Snap Chat. I could take a picture, send it to you, and the cool part of Snap Chat in the early days is it would disappear. As soon as you saw it, it was gone.
Snap Chat then added the Stories function, and what that meant was instead of just sending you a personalized snap, which I can still do – an image or a video – I can now upload it to what’s called ‘My Story.’ So everything I’m doing all day long – if I’m uploading videos 10 seconds here or 15 seconds five seconds there, or quick images to show people what I’m up to – it goes to my story. And it stays as one ongoing, looping, image and video kind of show for 24 hours, and then it disappears.
So now, instead of being a closed, private network, it can be a little bit more public. But the cool feature of the Stories and how we can use it like crazy in the nightclub and bar and restaurant industry is we can create our own little reality TV show. As we jump in to this conversation a little bit more, there’s a big difference between the Snap Chat’s and then Instagram or Facebook or Twitter. It has its own way to use it. And I like to use that metaphor and explanation on ‘create your own mini reality TV show,’ because now that you don’t have to private message every single, let’s say, person that follows you, and you can throw it on your story. You can create this little show.
Nick: Awesome. Before we get into that, because obviously we’re going to dive into exactly how bars, restaurants, and nightclubs can use Snap Chat to grow their business – but before we did this episode, I wanted to do a little bit of research and find out exactly how big Snap Chat is. Is this just the next new fad and then it’s going to be gone in 60 or 90 days or whatever it is? In the show notes of this episode, I’m going to leave a link to what I found so that everybody can take a look at this.
What stats are showing is that Snap Chat is now the second most powerful social media platform in the United States. There are more users than Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. I found this astonishing. Snap Chat grew as much in one year as Twitter has done in four years. So it shows how fast people are using this.
I’m sitting on the couch the other day with my wife, and I see her doing all this crazy stuff with my daughter and making these funny pictures. My son was doing the same thing. As I started seeing her playing with it, I see so many of her friends doing the same kind of stuff and then also posting those pictures to Facebook. And then I started noticing more people in the bars doing it.
And with as busy as I’ve been lately, I don’t have the time to study every single – there are so many different marketing strategies out there, which is why I wanted to come to you to get the expert advice on how we can use Snap Chat to grow our business. And then once we get into that, for someone like me, I don’t want to learn Snap Chat. I want to learn how to profit from it.
But how can I get my manager? How can I go find somebody else to take care of Snap Chat for me at my bars where I don’t have to do it, but I can give them the strategy and say, “Here’s what needs to be done on a daily basis. Here’s what we need to do.” So let’s first dive into how to use it, and then we’ll dive into maybe how to outsource that.
Louie: Absolutely. There are some fantastic ways to use Snap Chat, and like I mentioned earlier, you want to think of it as a different platform. I think a big mistake just social media-wise for every business and not just in the hospitality industry – I say this across the board – is one, you’re thinking about old school ways of advertising, print, flyers, radio, and TV. It’s a push-out medium. And when you move into social media, and this happens on Facebook, Instagram and including Snap Chat, you’re bringing that old school mentality there, where you’re doing a push-out medium. And it’s the wrong way to do it, because it’s social media.
If you engage and go two-way, it becomes much more powerful. But that’s a whole other podcast, right? And specific to Snap Chat, it also has its own context, much different than Instagram which is a beautiful photo – your concert, your nice food – and Facebook, which has a lot more media. Snap Chat, like I mentioned, could be a reality show.
So I like to explain Snap Chat as the gears behind the marketing machine that maybe has created that beautiful Instagram photo, or that gallery of images on Facebook. What’s going on behind the scenes? So that’s a great way to consider: what do I do on Snap Chat? Like if there’s a band at my restaurant or bar, am I just going to go snap a picture? It’s kind of a crappy quality, right? You want a good photographer to take a great picture and put that on Instagram, right?
But what’s happening behind the scenes? What’s happening before that nice picture? That’s where Snap Chat could come into play. So if you do have a band, perhaps you want to do some quick interviews with them, 10 second questions, before they get to the stage. Or maybe you want them to take over your Snap Chat. You give them your user name and password while they’re at the hotel or in the limo on the way over. And this is band or DJ related.
If it’s a restaurant, maybe your head chef or cook or your busboy is hilarious, and you want to go take quick snaps and videos of his daily antics. Like I said, if you think of it as creating –
Nick: It’s building a relationship, right?
Louie: It is. And it’s showing the insides of the working machine. These are the gears behind that, and you could go all kinds of ways.
Nick: I like that idea, especially with restaurants or even bars. You’ve got this new menu item that’s coming or you’re going to put something on special, something brand new. People get sick and tired of the same stuff over and over. We want new. That’s why we’re watching the news all the time. What’s new? What’s going on?
It’s the same thing with menu items. So I think it would be kind of cool to take – and I’m going to do this with our cook now that you’re giving me the idea. We just launched a brand new menu with 15 menu items on it, and so I think it would be kind of cool to start taking videos of him, showing him prepping it.
Louie: Yes, building it.
Nick: Yes, building it, and then also creating it on the plate and then serving it, maybe even giving it to a customer and getting a video testimonial from them saying, “Hey, this is the best burger” or whatever it is, in town. So as you’re saying, you can create that storyboard and blast it out to your followers, right?
Louie: Right. And so when you’re doing each little image or 10 to 15-second video burst, and that’s a great example with him building it and talking and then bringing it out, you upload that to your Story. So as people are following your account, again, there are two ways to use Snap Chat. You can either message it to everybody, and when they look at that one snap, it disappears after.
But right now, you’re building a mini reality TV show, a mini reality TV show segment, so you want that to go to your story instead. This way, everybody gets notified. When they jump into Snap Chat, your Story is updated, and they can click to watch it. And it will go right from the beginning, so as you’re doing this and maybe you put something else on later in the evening, they can follow, literally snap after snap in a row, that whole little story. So if they catch it later on in the evening, they’re watching all of that, building the new menu piece, right to the testimonial.
So what you want to do right at the end, because it will disappear in 24 hours, is go download it. There’s a little spot, I think it’s the three dots menu item, for the story you post – and don’t forget to do that at the end of the night – download it to your phone. So you have that, and you can use that on Instagram, on Facebook. And that’s a good way, and we’ll talk about this maybe even now, to get people onto Snap Chat.
Nick: There’s a great one. There’s one more question I have for you. Let’s say we’ve got a slow day coming up. It’s a Monday. And we’ll talk about getting in and how we build our Snap Chat following. But what would be a strategy on how we could use Snap Chat instead of doing this long video right way?
How could we get something out for this particular offer? “Hey, anybody who shows this on Snap Chat gets 20 percent off.” Would that be like a video message? Could it be an image? Or, “Hey, come in today and get this free appetizer when you come in and buy a meal.” What type of offers, or can you see a strategy behind that with Snap chat?
Louie: I think the first thing is you want to know is which audience is on your Snap Chat. People always think Snap Chat’s the young audience, and a good chunk of it is a young audience, but now there are a lot of people on Snap Chat, like you mentioned. We’re kind of on it, your wife, and my wife. Do you know what I mean? It’s a lot more people.
So what’s your actual restaurant or bar audience, and if they’re on Snap Chat? Then you can kind of craft the promotion that will work with them, but like you just mentioned, it’s quite easy to just take an image of the burger. You can type text and say, “Screen shot this and bring it to us.” You can do other things, too, where you have them create their own little image of something, a little promotion, and they blast it to their followers. I’ve had promotions like that that work really well.
You can draw on it with your finger, and instead of writing, you can draw. So if you have somebody that’s pretty artistic, you can draw out something or make little doodles on the burger. You can make it very visually pleasing. And again, they can screen shot it and come in and show it, or if it’s on your story and it hasn’t disappeared – maybe you show it because it’s 24 hours. While this is active, and it’s only 24 hours, this promo is alive. And it’s going to be gone, because everybody understands that Snap Chat Stories will disappear in 24 hours.
Nick: There’s that urgency and scarcity.
Louie: Urgency, because it will be gone and you can’t show it to me. I’ve even had promos where you send one snap to people, to your followers, and the first snap will say – because it disappears – “The next snap, do not open. When you come in today, it will have a percentage, and whatever that is, you get off.” And they won’t know, because as soon as they open it, it disappears. So they can’t open the next snap.
Nick: I like that.
Louie: Like a scratch card where you don’t know what you’re going to get.
Nick: It’s kind of like the scratch card or the bounce-back envelope, the no-peeking envelope. I’ve seen that a lot before, where you get this when you come in. “Come in within the next two weeks. You can bring this in. Don’t peek. Don’t open it. There’s a discount inside, but you don’t know until you come back in.” So this is the digital version, no printing required.
Louie: Right, and you could have a new promo – it could be Mondays or lunches. And you could say it’s one menu item we decide on at a certain discount value we decide on. And you send that out Tuesday morning, saying, “Don’t open the next snap, because that’s your coupon. If you open it, it’s expired. You have to show your server there.” And that ‘gamifies’ it a little too, and it will excite some people.
Nick: I like this. I think especially for my audience that’s listening, which I’d say is about 65 percent bar owners or restaurant owners and some nightclub owners, this strategy right here is probably the simplest version to start using Snap Chat to make a profit in your bar or your restaurant. Pick a specific day of the week, or maybe just pick random days, one day a week and do some kind of offer, just like you said. And send them one image, one message, and then that next one would be, “Hey, don’t open this until you come in, because you’re going to get this value of either X, Y, or Z,” or whatever it may be.
So that’s probably the simplest thing before people start thinking – like we were mentioning about doing a reality TV show type of things which would be cool to do and people should do, but just to get their feet wet, this would be the easiest way to start driving people in the door.
Louie: Absolutely. And so maybe we should start getting into how to grow that audience, because if you only have 10 people on Snap Chat, it’s just a number. It’s like sending out 10 flyers, right? So you want to grow that audience, and with that said, that little reality TV show idea and these things are going to keep people wanting to follow you.
But right away, if they know they get coupons, instead of being on an email list which is one piece of marketing – open rates could be up or down depending on your audience and the content you deliver. I’ve seen open rates of eight percent, which is awful. Maybe that’s not a good avenue to market anymore, right? Even though you own the list and stuff like that, if your open rates aren’t in the higher average, it may not be worth it.
But you’ve got to engage with good content – and of course, again, that’s another podcast – and then keep the list engaged. It’s the same with Snap Chat. If you’re not putting out decent content or it’s always just coupons and sales, people may just not want to follow you anymore. Only the fans that love the food are like, “Oh, we go there all the time anyways. I need this coupon.” But you’re almost defeating the purpose.
So you want to gain new followers. I would absolutely use your other channels to push people over. The thing with Snap Chat is it’s a closed network, so to speak. So I can’t go to Snap Chat yet. They’re starting to roll out some features that are going to be more helpful to discover people. So I can’t go search for you. You have to know my user name or click on this link, and this is my Snap Chat. I can’t go discover people.
Nick: OK. So if people are in the bar – let’s say I want my bartenders to grow our Snap Chat following to 100 people in the next 30 days. What would the bartender or server need to do? We could tell them, “Hey, every Monday, we put out this special on Snap Chat if you have it. If you don’t, get it. Here’s what we’re doing.” How would they get the – you would just give them the user name?
Louie: Yeah. You could give them the user name. You can make little business card size, yellow – because that’s their thing. And then everybody who joins Snap Chat gets a little Snap Code. It’s like that little ghost. It’s like a little QR code idea. Grab that right from your Snap Chat. You could download it there, and put that on your business card. And what happens is when you open the app and you want to follow somebody, you can either enter the user name or use the code, and it just uses the camera. It’s like a QR code, and it will automatically bring up that user name.
So that’s another great way that waitresses and bartenders – you could maybe make coasters with, “Hey, follow us on Snap Chat” and put your QR code right there for a bar area. There are a couple of ways that just get the awareness of your user name. And then like I mentioned, I would utilize that same idea on Instagram if you have followers there, and same with Facebook. And then from there, you want to push over the reasons why you want to follow on Snap Chat.
Nick: What are the benefits? Give them the benefits.
Louie: Right. Like if you do one little reality TV show like you mentioned the new item, that could be out of so many snaps and videos a minute long, which is great. Post that to Instagram and Facebook, “Have you seen our little reality show. Follow us on Snap Chat for behind the scenes stuff.” You don’t have to do it every day, but you use one that’s funny and good and the best one that you have. And that’s how you use them to push over to Snap Chat and grow that following.
So that’s another way to utilize that, and of course the business cards, the coasters. The bartender is actually telling them, “Hey, follow us, because we send coupons. We have a funny reality show.” As you get into that, there’s just more features and reasons why people want to follow you on another platform. That’s why it’s got to be different. If it’s just the same-old, they’ll be like, “Well, I already follow you on Facebook. I already see the same photos on Instagram. It’s just another thing.” So if you give them another reason, that’s a great way to get them to follow.
Nick: And the last thing I want to cover too is I know that filters are becoming really big. And I’ve heard a little bit on filters, and this is something I’m going to start doing at Casey’s here shortly. But let everybody know what filters are and really how to use that for branding.
Louie: Absolutely. A filter is kind of like either a lower third or your logo and some drawings on a snap. So what happens is it’s very geo targeted. So if you’re in another city, most cities have their own filter. If you’re in New York City or Niagara Falls, you can take a picture, you can swipe to add either different coloring or some location based filtering. So when you take that picture, everybody who sees your snap knows that you’re in Niagara Falls or New York City or wherever it is
But businesses can also create their own filters. For my festival, for example, if you are in that geo-targeted area and you take a picture of a stage or your friends, you can swipe by and you’ll see the city of course, but you’ll also see our festival filter. And that costs by the time that you have it active, and by square footage. It’s a transparent image.
So let’s say for Casey’s, you might want your logo. Or maybe you’ll do Casey’s Cam and it looks like a little camera with a little recording thing. And you’ll say, “Friday nights, take a picture of yourself, use our filter, and share that. Somebody could win something.” What you’ll do is when you upload that – you’ll get it designed. People can do it for cheap or you can do it yourself. There’s a template you can download, Photoshop, right off Snap Chat’s website, and just put your logos on and your little design.
And it’s by square footage, so you might just want to blanket your bar. So when they’re in the bar and they’re snapping themselves, your filter shows up. And it’s by time, so you may only want it during lunch specials. You may want it during busy nights. So you don’t want to blanket it 24 hours a day, constantly, because that’s going to cost differently.
Nick: Do it when the most people are in there.
Louie: Yeah, in advance, things like that, because it will add to the promotions, into your branding. I’ve seen people drop their filter on other bars, on the competition. I have seen that happen. It’s like flyering their bar, so I’m not sure it’s a nice thing to do.
Nick: I wouldn’t do that.
Louie: I have seen that happen. Or, I have seen things that make sense, so let’s say at the movie theatre. If you know that you’re doing something like a student special and you know that at a certain time movies are playing where the teens are out there. Or it could be couples out for Fifty Shades and you’re going to have a Valentine’s special. You may blanket a movie theatre. That’s not competitive. Now, the thing is, are they snapping in the theatre? Maybe young kids before it comes on might do it, so again, know your audience.
But you can blanket other areas, and then depending on how big that area is and the amount of time – I mean, I’ve done – it’s like $20 dollars or $50 dollars to blanket four hours here. It’s not that expensive. And it drops your filter on there and people can just swipe through, use your filter, and it brands their image to your location, which is kind of neat.
Nick: That’s awesome. Well, Louie, I appreciate it. And if people wanted to get more information on you, you have tons of great marketing and social media strategies. Where can people go to get more information from you?
Louie: My website is obviously a great start and has a lot of articles and videos on there, which is louielavella.com, and same with all social media channels. Obviously, all over Facebook I’m always posting stuff, and Instagram and Snap Chat, and it’s the same thing: @louielavella. And I look forward to chatting with anybody or answering any questions. I love sharing some info and doing things like this. I encourage everybody to jump on Snap Chat, test it out, try it, build that following, and you’ll find it’s pretty effective.
Nick: Awesome. I appreciate it, Louie. And again, if anybody has not subscribed to iTunes, please do that and leave a review down below. And if you have any questions for Louie, you know where to find him. We’ll see you on the next episode. Thank you, Louie. I appreciate it, bud.
Nick Fosberg is known as one of the highest paid, marketing and promotional consultants in the bar & restaurant industry and he owns 2 bar / restaurants in the Chicagoland area. He's famous for creating some of the highest grossing digital marketing promotions in the history of the bar & restaurant business..... without spending a penny on marketing. All done through e-mail & Facebook posts. Click here to get a free copy of my latest book.