a finely-aged & neat conclusion.

Concept

Major Digital Artefact – Digital Media Coordinator with The Little Prince

My digital artefact encompasses all the work I’ve done as the social media coordinator for The Little Prince, a small cocktail bar in Wollongong.  I began working on this project after I was approached by the manager who expressed interest in bringing me on board.  I saw it as a good opportunity to develop my marketing and digital media skills outside of a university context, as well as practice in curating content for a business.  As this is a field I would like to move into after graduation, I also saw it as a potential asset for my portfolio moving forward.

Methodology

After sitting down with the manager and discussing her goals for my involvement, we narrowed down our KPI’s – increasing exposure for The Little Prince online, and translating that to in-bar engagement and sales.  Based on my personal knowledge of the Wollongong nightlife scene as well as the bar itself, I worked with the manager to narrow down the bar’s brand persona, as well as their target market.  I’ve created a visual representation below – young professionals in their mid 20’s-to-30’s, who know what they like to drink and can afford the relatively expensive cocktails.

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My production method has changed as I became steadily more involved in the day-to-day operations of the bar, and it ended up evolving far beyond my original expectations.  My work included (but was not limited to) managing and scheduling Facebook and Instagram accounts, building and designing a website, redesigning menus, and taking photographs to use as promotional content.

Utility

Social Channels:  FacebookInstagramTikTok

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The core pillar of boosting engagement was The Little Prince’s social media accounts.  As I discussed in my beta blog post, the bar already has a strong social media following across Facebook and Instagram:

  • Facebook: 9.4k likes
  • Instagram: 2.4k follows

The bar’s issue lay in not regularly posting content, and therefore not keeping the bar at top-of-mind for either a night out or for function bookings.

I drew inspiration for the bar’s content across a variety of other local Wollongong bars.  In particular, I felt that Humber was closely aligned with our audience, while Hotel Illawarra ran promotions I hoped to encapsulate.  Births and Deaths‘ similar size and quality drink focus was also a strong influence.

I also set up a TikTok account for the bar.  This was used to showcase timelapse videos of cocktails being made each week, set to music.  I shared these on the bar’s Instagram stories.

At the conclusion of this project, The Little Prince’s statistics have risen to 9.78k likes and 9.85k follows on Facebook, and 2.52k followers on Instagram.  These results show increases across the board during the two months:

  • Facebook gained approx 380 new page likes – an increase of 4.04%
  • Instagram gained approx 124 new followers – an increase of 5.17%

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Website:  www.thelittleprincebar.com

The Little Prince had no website, meaning that they relied on social pages to connect with patrons.  I pitched a simple website as a way for the bar to look professional, house contact info and a digital copy of their menus, and allow customers to book tables online.  When their website builder fell through, I stepped up and used Wix to build the website myself.  I was given complete freedom over the design, images used and final domain name.

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The website is technically live and available to visit now, although we haven’t yet promoted the website – we have already seen bookings come through the system so it is being found organically.  We have decided to make the website’s official promotion date Thursday 7th November.  This gives us time to iron out any final issues and work on search engine optimisation.

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Content Creation:  Photos – Videos – Menus

I’ve also created content for The Little Prince when necessary.  In particular, photo content for posting was relatively scarce when I started, so I began bringing my camera to the bar and photographing cocktails for use across Instagram and Facebook.  These have been relatively well-received; that is, my photos have been reaching the same if not more engagement than the bar’s professional photography.

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I also began filming and editing the creation of cocktails for promotional use.  These videos, posted on TikTok and Instagram Stories, have seen various levels of success.  Stories, in particular, usually reaches around 250 viewers per video.

As I started with The Little Prince at the beginning of spring, the bar had just launched a new menu and was frustrated at their “shitty” paper menus (their words, not mine).  I designed a menu style, updated the bar’s current menus with the new versions, and got them professionally laminated – to great feedback from both staff and patrons of the bar.

Important Learning Moments

learning moment 1:  people love free stuff.

One of the biggest learning moments for me was the immense success of one of our posts in the lead up to Halloween.  One of the concepts I had originally pitched to The Little Prince’s manager was the implementation of promotional posts; that is, posts that offer some sort of prize or incentive in exchange for engagement through likes, comments or shares.  This concept is not a new one, and I based my pitch around the success of other bars and clubs in Wollongong offering a similar deal.  For example, Hotel Illawarra used to offer a bar tab promotion for their Thursday “Retro” nights, asking for followers to like and share the post for a chance to win.  These posts gathered, on average, between 75-100 likes, 50-100 comments and 30-60 shares.  I aimed to deliver this same level of engagement for The Little Prince.

After my idea was approved by the manager, I curated a post that offered a $50 bar tab for Halloween.  In order to win the bar tab, individuals would have to like the page, like the post and tag two friends.  After asking a few of the bar staff, I decided to avoid asking individuals to share the post as this could be met with hesitance and would likely lead to a reduced number of engagements.

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I posted the promotion along with a photo of the bar’s newest ‘spooky’ shot, the Alien Brain Haemorrhage, a colourful drink which I had suggested and photographed personally.  After posting it to both Facebook and Instagram, I also shared it on the UOW Students Buy and Sell page, which houses over 56,000 local individuals within the bar’s target demographic.

The post ended up outperforming any expectations the bar staff or myself had for the promotion – by far.  At the time of writing (31st October), the post has 272 likes, 4 shares and 455 comments.  As well as reaching a total of 1,785 engagements, the post managed to reach 16,582 individual people – giving the post an engagement rate of 9.3%.  Given the immense success of this post, the manager is keen to do more promotions in this style in the future.

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Note the spikes in engagement and reach in the graphs above.

Interestingly enough, as I sit in the bar writing this blog post, the bartender informs me that tonight is far busier than normal.  I wonder, how many of these patrons are here because they saw our posts?  I cannot track in-store conversion rates, but I’d venture an educated guess that at least a handful of guests were persuaded through our social promoting.

learning moment 2:  planning doesn’t always go to plan.

At the commencement of this project, I sat down with The Little Prince’s manager and discussed a schedule of posts going forward.  Originally, I utilised the Gantt chart model of organising to plan out the posting schedule for the bar.  As a marketing graduate, this made sense to me – utilising a well-known project plan to map out the future trajectory of the bar and monitor its regular progress.

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However, I soon discovered that this was wishful thinking.  Although my plan to use Gantt to monitor progress worked in theory, the chart has limitations that I only realised when it was put into practice.  As identified by Geraldi and Lechter (2012), Gantt charts are great at keeping projects on track and prioritising timing, but fail to deal well with projects involving uncertainty and change.  For a bar such as The Little Prince, uncertainty and change are part and parcel of the business model; while a certain amount of content can be pre-prepared and prepped, events such as last-minute bookings, cancellations, events and even stock issues can render planning useless.

From this, I determined that models used for planning posts for The Little Prince must be two-fold.  On one hand, long term goals such as planning for Christmas functions must be promoted early and consistently, and for these posts a schedule works.  On the other hand, updates on feature cocktails, food, weekly trivia and music events can only be planned for a few weeks in advance at most, allowing for changes to be implemented at every stage.

Following this realisation, I implemented a simple Google Sheets document to plan out my posting schedule, updating it weekly with events from the shared Google Calendar and highlighting posts once scheduled.  Since beginning this in mid-October, I’ve been able to keep ahead of posts whilst adapting it as necessary, which has been very successful.

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When planning out our posts, we settled on a flexible posting schedule:

  • Sun/Mon – bar is closed (no posts)
  • Tues – promote weekly feature cocktail
  • Sat – reminder of weekly feature cocktail
  • Wed/Thurs/Fri – post as necessary.  This includes food promotions, trivia nights and music gigs, upcoming holidays, tracking important events, etc.

We juggled around between scheduling software early on in the project.  At the recommendation of a friend and my lecturer, I began using Hootsuite to plan out my content, but I found it surprisingly frustrating to use given its lack of support for Instagram and having to pay to access analytics.  I found Later to be more user-friendly and comfortable, and I’ve been using it ever since.

learning moment 3:  know your audience.

TikTok was an interesting experiment for the bar, and the one element I approached with some trepidation.  TikTok’s statistics speak for themselves; the app is one of the fastest-growing social media networks, with 660 million app downloads in 2018 and over 500 million monthly users (Mediakix data, 2018).

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Yet the one issue I hadn’t considered was age.  Despite the app’s monumental growth and steady increase of adult users, its main audience still sits firmly with teenagers (Oberlo, 2019).  Which meant, of course, that using it as a platform to promote alcohol and cocktails was counterintuitive.

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This was reflected in our statistics – despite my hashtags, our first video received only 3 likes and each subsequent video received no likes at all.  In retrospect, for a bar aimed at a mid 20’s-to-30’s business crowd, TikTok clearly is not the right app for the job.

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learning moment 4:  work hard and reap every benefit.

Once I began this project, it didn’t take long for the job description and my responsibilities to change at The Little Prince.  Soon I moved beyond merely reinvigorating social media channels and implementing regular posting, to covering almost every digital aspect of the bar.

Being asked (and saying yes) to taking on extra facets of work was a challenge I never planned for.  I’m not a professional photographer by any means, so being asked to take promotional-quality photographs was both exciting and daunting.  Outside of WordPress, I have never built a website in my life, so I had to weigh up which platform to choose and very quickly learn how to design a professional-looking website.

Despite the extra workload without pay, I approached it all with passion and I thoroughly enjoyed throwing myself into the work I was doing.  More importantly, the quality of my work shows through; so much so that two separate agencies in Sydney are in the process of organising interviews with me that will likely lead to an offer of full-time work.

Reflection

Being able to work on this project has been a great privilege.  It has also helped me to practice and hone my skills as not only a digital media manager, but also in pitching my ideas in meetings and working with a client.  I hope to continue on with the bar in a reduced manner; now that the schedule is set up for the bar, the majority of the hard work is done for the bar and for myself moving forward.

As for this being the end of my BCM journey… well, it’s been an absolute honour to work on projects alongside like-minded professionals, under the guidance of some of the finest academic mentors I’ve ever met.  Adiós, and I’ll see you online.

Sources

Births and Deaths, Instagram (2019). http://www.instagram.com/birthsanddeathsbar

Geraldi, J. and Lechter, T. (2012). “Gantt charts revisited”, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 578-594.

Hotel Illawarra, Facebook post (2017). http://www.facebook.com/hotelillawarra/photos/p.1994055477544084/1994055477544084/?type=1&theater

Hotel Illawarra, Facebook post (2019). http://www.facebook.com/hotelillawarra/posts/2456862491263378?notif_id=1572480930502807&notif_t=page_highlights

Humber, Instagram (2019). http://www.instagram.com/humberbar

Mediakix. (2018). Statistics That Show TikTok’s Insane Growth, Mediakix, mediakix.com/blog/tik-tok-user-growth-infographic

Mohsin, M. (2019). 10 TikTok Statistics That You Need to Know in 2019, Oberlo,  au.oberlo.com/blog/tiktok-statistics


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