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Christmas is fast approaching, which means one thing if you're a bar / restaurant: opportunity.

Often the busiest time of the year, Christmas can be great for your venue (if not for your sleep pattern) if you make the most of it, and the key to success is standing out - making your place the place. Whether you host large festive dinners or simply offer a more casual place for some nice cocktails, it's vital that your fans know exactly what you'll be providing over the next month or two: why they should choose to dine, drink and celebrate with you. And when it comes to social media, photos and videos are paramount to engaging with your potential guests and converting views and likes to boots - or heels - through your door. Below are three quick tips to help get your preparations underway.

Christmas turkey at Home |

1. Start posting. Now.

Don't hesitate. It doesn't matter too much what you're putting out, just so long as something is there. You can worry about quality later. Fortunately, almost anything is welcome in the right places on social media (see 3 below), so don't waste too much time trying to master photography on your phone - so long as you get something online and can let your followers know that you’re prepared, they’ll be happy. With this in mind, start photographing everything related to your Christmas offering - quick snaps of menu tastings, videos of decorations being arranged, etc. This kind of 'behind the scenes' stuff is easy to do, and people enjoy getting a glimpse on social media of how things work. Then, once you’ve got everything regarding menus, concepts and objectives finalised, consider booking in a professional photoshoot - which, hey, leads on to the next point.

2. Book in a professional photo/videoshoot.

Everyday photos are great and certainly have their place - as noted above, casual snaps of your festive preparations are a useful, informal way of engaging with your audience. But when it comes to showing off your main selling point (whether it's your cocktail menu, a special Christmas roast, or one-off event) it’s vital that you have photos that do it justice. Am I biased? Probably (this is the kind of photography that I offer), but it's true. Having a varied collection of top-drawer content to roll out over the coming weeks is an easy way to set you apart from a competitor who can't be bothered dedicating too much time to online marketing.

So how to go about this? As someone who creates this kind of content, I feel the best way is to get everything covered in one go. It's feasible - and practical - over the course of a few hours to create a full photographic package that covers all aspects of your Christmas offering, so that you have a broad range of high quality photography to use over the next month or so. If you're in need of this kind of imagery running into the festive period, get in touch and I'd be happy to help - I'm a photographer who provides bars & restaurants with innovative visual content, and my work aims to showcase your offering at its best. I create fully customizable image portfolios that are wholly directed by the client's needs, allowing you to jump ahead of your competitors online. Many photographers do work that suits themselves - I do work that suits you.

Take a look at my recent photography here - if you'd like to work together, drop me a line. I'm based in the north of England, but often travel around the country when necessary.

December roast dinners at Crafthouse |

3. Make the most of every platform.

So, once you've got enough imagery, what do you do with it? Take to social media, and do so with gusto.

It's all very well to be posting every so often on Facebook - but even the best images will do no good if they're not publicised frequently. Different social media platforms offer various ways in which images can be posted, and it's wise to make the most of these. On Facebook, photo albums are outdated. But instead, uploading up to four or five images in one batch creates a vibrant collection that looks great, without being cluttered or confusing. Twitter offers a similar thing, allowing you to post four photos that automatically drop into a neat little grid once uploaded. Alternatively, individual images work well if they focus on one particular element (a cocktail, or dish) and are of good enough quality to stand alone - just be sure to include as much info as possible in the parameters provided (location, tagging, etc.) to drive engagement.

Whatever you're posting, the most important factor to observe is consistency. Not simply because this will keep people engaged on a daily basis but, more importantly, because of the way Facebook's algorithms work. Unlike Twitter, where everything appears chronologically regardless of what posts may or may not interest you, your news feed on Facebook is filtered by what you've liked, shared or clicked in the past - and also by what things Facebook thinks is relevant and newsworthy. The upshot is that if you're only posting a couple of times per week, Facebook will fade you out of people's - even your followers' - news feeds. And that's some tough social media love right there. To stay ahead of the curve, it's vital to post as frequently as possible (as mentioned in point 1 above) - a couple of times a day is a good ballpark figure. Instagram functions in the same way, so keep your finger on the trigger over there too.

On the topic of Instagram, it should be home to all of your best images - the ones that really do well to showcase your brand in the best possible light, ideally taken by your photographer. Make sure they're all a cohesive bunch so that your profile page stands out against others. On the other hand, Instagram Stories are an oft-overlooked but brilliant way of giving your followers an informal glimpse into life behind the scenes. These can be taken directly from your phone, and should be: save your best stuff for properly uploading to your account, and throw casual snaps onto your story.

Do you know your Rudolph Spritzer from your Jingle Juice? Festive cocktails at Angelica |

Of course, there are always many different ways of going about the same thing; these are just a few pointers based on what I've seen work (and not work) in recent years. However you go about your festive marketing, good luck - I wish you and your business a happy and fruitful Christmas. If there's anything I can do to help during that period, let me know.

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