How to Use Pinterest for Your Bar or Restaurant

By now, you’ve probably heard about this Pinterest thing.  Maybe you even pin a collection of boards for your personal interests, must haves, or need-to-dos.  But how do you use Pinterest for your bar or restaurant?  And why should you?  Well those are answers I’m happy to address for you.  As the head pinner for East Coast Chair & Barstool’s Pinterest page, I have been nearly obsessed with this platform for the past year.  And I’ve learned a  lot.  Here are some tips I think you’ll find really interesting, and I hope they will inspire you to jump on board – the pinboard, that is.

Why Pinterest?
Pinterest has taken the social media world by storm.  It was the fastest growing social media site ever; actually, it was the fastest growing site ever, period.  When the site began, users required an invite, but today, users do not need an invite to join.  Launched in 2010 with the biggest boom in general awareness occurring around January 2012, Pinterest is now the 4th largest social media site and the 3rd most popular, behind Facebook and Twitter.  With over 23 million unique monthly visitors in July 2012, it showed a 5,124% increase in traffic from July 2011 to July 2012, according to a CBS News article.  And when people visit Pinterest, they don’t just stop by, they are spending an average of 14.2 minutes (as reported by a SaltyWaffle.com article), and I know many pinners (myself included) who spend hours at a time searching through the virtual pinboard for ideas, helpful hints, and inspiration. What’s more is that Pinterest is referring more traffic to external websites (like yours!) than YouTube, Google+, and Tumblr combined.

Beyond gaining referral traffic, Pinterest is helping businesses (just like yours!) close the sale.  According to Econsultancy.com, Pinterest users spend more than twice as much as Facebook users.  And although the site is predominantly used by women, the men who are on Pinterest are about twice as likely to buy, according to a recent Compete survey.  So don’t rule out men, yet, especially because more males are slowly joining the party on Pinterest.

With the Food & Drink category being the most popular (says Repinly), it’s only obvious to me that bars and restaurants belong on this platform!

What Should I Pin?
Worried about good content?  That’s the fun part!  Here are some ideas and examples for you.

  • Food, food, food.  People love saving and sharing recipes.  So give them what they love.  Post recipes to some of your restaurant’s signature dishes, or create a pinboard about possible menu additions in the future, or both!  The recipes on your Pinterest page could link directly back to that menu item on your website, or maybe you’ll want to create a special recipe section on your website that you can pin directly from, so it makes sharing your recipe even easier.  The other recipes could be repins from the Pinterest community, because remember – it’s nice to share others’ content sometimes, too.
  • Drinks.  Cocktails.  Alcoholic concoctions.  You get the idea.
  • Real photos. Whether they’re of your store front, your different locations, your staff, or your trendy restaurant furniture and must-see decor, your establishment’s own photos give a personal touch to your brand and are oftentimes the most enjoyed. So get out your camera and start adding real-time photos of your real-life restaurant; you’ll be really glad you did!  (If you are a new restaurant, you can showcase the progress you’re making in getting things up and running.  Or, if you do a remodel, you can show off your before-and-after pictures in a special board. The possibilities are endless!)
  • Customer photos.  Someone’s at your restaurant and snaps a picture.  Minutes later it’s on their Instagram page and being shared on Facebook.  Why not invite them to pin it to one of your pinboards, too? 
  • Historical photos.  Are you a landmark establishment in your town?  If you’ve been around a while, you might want to start a pinboard collection of photos through the ages.  Don’t stop at just what your bar looked like 50 years ago; add in photos of what the town looked like 50 years ago.  And of course, you’ll want to pin photos of the people who helped you get to where you are today: founders, past bar owners, and your long-time customers!
  • Geographical-specific images.  If you’re in Houston, pin things that are specific to all things Texas.  If you’re in Boston, pin other places to go or stay while in Boston.  Gain the support of your local community, or make recommendations to out-of-towners – who in turn will remember your restaurant when they visit.  Now you’re thinking!
  • Health & fitness tips.  If you’re committed to offering a healthy menu, then this topic is one your customers have much interest.  And Pinterest is full of pins in this subject matter.
  • Sports.  Didn’t think I’d say that, huh?  But if you’re a sports bar, this is a great fit for you.  Pin photos from your local sports teams’ websites, articles/scores/blogs from your local sports reporters, and photos of your customers dressed in their favorite players’ jerseys.
  • Music.  Do you have live bands?  Known for the hottest dance floor in town?  Associate a certain kind of cool tunes to your overall atmosphere?  Go to YouTube, find music videos that fit your brand, and pin them to a board dedicated to the sound of your bar or restaurant.
  • Merchandise.  Do you have an e-commerce section to your website, featuring t-shirts, growlers, or gift certificates?  Be sure to pin your merchandise with a dollar amount included.  This will help your pin be seen by more people, because the dollar sign will help it land in the Gifts section, too.
  • Videos.  Create and upload videos to your YouTube channel, then pin them at Pinterest, too!  You could do a series of “how to” videos of your chef or staff members teaching the viewers how to properly dice their veggies, how to safely store food, how to stuff a turkey, how to mix a cocktail, how to set a table, etc.  Or, you could do quick customer testimonials in video style, or post videos of recent events or other happenings in your bar or restaurant.  Get creative!  Videos are hot right now, and the most engaging ones are quick to go viral.  Don’t forget to also upload them to your restaurant’s website.
  • Community or charity.  Does your restaurant team give back?  Make a board for that!  Post photos of staff volunteering, or pin photos from the websites of the charities you support.  It helps make you look all warm and fuzzy inside.  And that’s a good thing!
  • Infographics and humor.  If you want to get your pins shared, pin things worth sharing.  An infographic, cartoon, or funny quote that somehow ties back to your brand will be a surefire way to get others to repin away!  The more interesting your pin is, the more likely that it will be repinned and shared on (and off) Pinterest.
  • Anything unique to you.  Ask yourself, “What is my restaurant best known for?”  “What makes my bar different?”  The answer should be in your pins!

What are Best Pinning Practices?
Don’t pin things blindly.  Here are some best practices that I recommend.

  1. Get a content plan.  Decide what types of content and what pinboards you’ll start with.  Remember, you can always add categories and new pins as you go.  But start with 5-7 pinboard themes that you know you want to focus on at first.  Remember, anything that you blog about or post on your website can essentially become a pin, too – so start thinking visually in all your other content, as well.
  2. Decide who will be your restaurant’s pinners.  Note, I said pinners.  Pinterest makes it easy to set up your pinboards to have more than one pinner.  Invite your staff who are natural Pinterest lovers, so while they’re pinning for themselves off-duty, they can also pin for you.  They won’t even feel as if they’re working.  It also means you can invite your vendors or your customers to pin to a board.  You might not want every pinboard to be a group board, but having more than one pinner can help you grow your pins rapidly and diversify your content.  Each board can have different pinners assigned to it, but one person should be the administrator of your overall business account.
  3. Set up a business page, or verify your existing one.  This will give your page an official look and also link directly to your website.  Win win!
  4. Be sure to include a description for your main page and each board. The text is search-able, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to be seen.
  5. When you describe an individual pin, be brief.  Much like Twitter, use #hashtags to make searching for similar pins or topics easy.
  6. Create content before you launch.  With Pinterest’s new “secret boards“, it’s easy to get your pinboards prepped and ready before they go live.
  7. Balance your content with others’.  Don’t have 100 pins, all pinned from your website of your menu items.  That’s not only egotistical, it’s boring.  And it isn’t good in a social space like Pinterest.  Mix it up.  Sure, you can self-promote sometimes, but don’t forget to give a nod to your fellow community members.
  8. Balance repins with fresh content.  There are a ton of existing pins on Pinterest that might fit well onto your boards, and it’s always nice to comment and repin and be an active and friendly Pinterest user.  But, it’s also vital for the health of Pinterest and your brand on the platform, to share new content.
  9. Rely on visuals.  Some text is OK for each pin, but don’t write a story to accompany your photo.  Make sure the link is working properly and take pinners to more content on your website when they click through.  Once again, your content off Pinterest could be shared by others, so think more visually in everything you do.

Who is Ace at this Pinterest Thing?
I am glad you asked, because I can’t wait to share these awesome examples of bars and restaurants using Pinterest.  Please note, I didn’t look at every bar or restaurant on Pinterest, so I’m sure there are many more exceptional pages.

We often look to the “big dogs” in our industry to emulate their successful strategies.  Looking at Chili’s pinboards, here’s what I love:

  • Breaking down their food boards into more specific categories, much like their actual restaurant menu
  • Featuring funny and share-able content in the Someecards board
  • Linking to their Create-a-Pepper site which features user-designed peppers that are colored for a good cause (warm and fuzzy, right?!)

I have to admit, this may be my favorite restaurant pinner I found.  HoHut Mongolian Grill is verified, which signifies right away that they know what they’re doing.  Here’s why I love, love, love them:

  • Featuring brand-relevant Mongolian culture and places, even though they are an American restaurant chain
  • Integrating what’s happening on Instagram with their content on Pinterest (so smart!)
  • Hosting recipe contests to increase engagement with their brand
  • Creating a board for Fu Manchus – that’s brand-savvy and fun!
  • And oh yeah, they also feature their menu and merchandise items, but it’s a great balance!

I also give Moe’s Original Bar B Que lots of love for these reasons:

  • Featuring “real” photos – they aren’t afraid to share pictures taken by their staff and customers and give us a “real” look inside their restaurants
  • Showcasing news, awards, and ads, which makes it really easy for them to then point media to one place for all their information (like an online and visual media kit!)
  • Balancing food and recipes with other stuff that interests their customers, like music and events

What are You Waiting For?
That’s what I thought!  I’ll be seeing you on Pinterest soon.  Don’t forget to follow us, and let me know if you use any of these pinteresting ideas.  I’m glad I could be of help.

On behalf of all of at East Coast Chair & Barstool, happy pinning!

Comments

One Response to “How to Use Pinterest for Your Bar or Restaurant”
  1. I am totally agree with you. Pinterest is such a great help in the business, and with the fast growing industry we really need something that can help us spread our stuff.