Keeping everyone up to date using social media and conventional websites is an incredibly useful tool - so why, one wonders, is it underutilised and poorly executed?
This may seem a bit rich coming from a social mediaphobe who didn't join Faceache until last year and whom has only been Twitting since April, but you can't learn about something without being exposed to it and what I have seen is quite encouraging.
For example, I noticed a Tweet from the Harlequin, announcing they would be shut for a 24 hour period for maintenance. Similarly, the excellent 3 Tuns in Hallowes, Dronfield tweeted that they wouldn't be serving food as normal on Sunday. All useful to know.
On a more instantaneous note, numerous pub beer festivals I have attended have often updated beers coming on via Twitter, or indeed just what is on the bar at any given time. All this info is useful to me as a customer, (and as a blogger/someone who may have the time and funds available to a pub specially) and may be the deal breaker on whether or not I visit.
And, of course, being online is useful for confirming current OPENING TIMES as happened with the Bulls Head at Belper Lane Ends back in July (particularly beneficial considering I had to travel by horse drawn omnibus for some considerable distance to fit in my planned visit). Meanwhile offers and events are well publicised on social media, resulting in visits that would otherwise perhaps not have been made.
I realise this is a bit no shit Sherlock, and I'm not saying that all eventualities can be covered just by being online, but being so and providing accurate information does help, and is a great generator of trade.
I also recognise not every pub would benefit from a social media account or website, I'm thinking the Royal Cottage in the Staffordshire Moorlands here (in fact, interestingly, any expectations I have of a pub being unspoilt are usually shattered upon my discovering they have a website at all, but I digress) but if pub owners and landlords and breweries do set up an online facility, in whatever form, for God's sake keep it updated!
Websites for pubs that have closed, websites that only show summer opening hours (when its winter), websites last updated in 2007, websites that list real ales coming soon when the site seemed new and interesting but which haven't listed any since, and worse still, Twitter and Facebook accounts that aren't used. Aaaaaaagh!
What could be easier than logging on and posting a message or update?
I'll leave you with a great example from NCP car parks about how to completely fail to get the most out of online content - in 2008 we visited Edinburgh and needed to park near to the B&B which had no such facility. The NCP Car Parks website told us where its nearest venue was, and we drove there. It had been demolished. What a tremendously impressive utilisation of the Internet that was.
In short, don't forget the rules :
Don't look stupid. Keep it updated. Your customers Need You!