Investigating Social Media Marketing Strategies of Nightclubs in the Midlands and West of Ireland: Influencing Customer’s Decision Making through Online Social Media – A Dublin Night Clubs Approach Dissertation, Ireland

Club 2.0: Investigating the Social Media Marketing Strategies of Nightclubs in the Midlands and West of Ireland.


Social media is already an established feature in the marketing strategies of large global brands. This study explores how the social media success stories of large global brands may be emulated on a smaller scale by nightclubs in the midlands and west of Ireland.

The topic is explored from both consumer and organization perspectives. Focus groups were conducted with target consumers and in-depth interviews were carried out with nightclub marketing personnel. The findings indicate nightclubs are highly compatible with social media, but nightclubs are not using social media to their full potential; instead, they are adopting an unstructured, outdated approach.

This study adds to the debate on the role of relationships and promotion in social media marketing by presenting a cross-sectional account of the current use of social media marketing. The resulting framework is designed for nightclub marketing managers as a tool to enhance their social media marketing strategies.


Since the inception of the internet forty years ago many new applications have been created. One of the most recent innovations to emerge is web 2.0, ‘a collection of web services which facilitate certain behaviours online, such as community participation and user-generated content’ (Chaffey and Smith, 2008: 499). Examples include the micro-blogging site Twitter, the social networking site Facebook, and the video-sharing site YouTube. Circle (2009) lists these particular web 2.0 applications among the top future marketing trends.


‘Social media’ is the broad term used to describe web 2.0 tools and applications built specifically for the purpose of allowing users to interact and socialise with others on the internet, including applications such as message boards, blogs, wikis, podcasts, instant messaging, social networking, email, and photo and video sharing (Preziosi, 2007; Miletsky, 2010).

Much of the literature suggests marketers should use social media simultaneously to complement their other online marketing strategies. Antion (2005) and Pattison (2009) also advocate using an independent website with its own domain name to reach potential customers who are not active on social media websites. The general consensus in the literature regarding the use of social media websites, as opposed to using independent websites, is encapsulated effectively by Kirby (2010), who concludes that a company-specific website should be complemented by social media tools to drive traffic to the company-controlled portal (Kirby, 2010).


This research project takes a cross-sectional view of the current status of social media usage among nightclubs in the midlands and west of Ireland, using a mixed method approach. The primary data collection process was carried out in two phases: 1) consumer focus groups and 2) organisational interviews. A self-selection sampling technique was used to determine the focus group sample. In total, ten nightclubs (fi ve rural and fi ve urban) and twenty-eight consumers (fi fteen females and thirteen males aged between 18 and 30) took part in the study, and the responses were analysed using the qualitative analysis technique known as template analysis.


Several key fi ndings emerged from the research analysis in areas such as social media experience, social media relationships, social media trends, and the management, implementation and measurement of social media marketing campaigns. The fi ndings from both data collection processes are discussed simultaneously.

Social Media Experience

All ten nightclubs studied have an active presence on the internet and in the social media world. However, variations exist between the levels of activity and depth of experience they have regarding the use of online tools such social media; these variations are summarised in Table 1.

Managing and Implementing Social Media Marketing Strategies

In general, the discussion of the research fi ndings so far has presented urban nightclubs as slightly more advanced social media users than their rural counterparts. However, unexpectedly, it is the rural nightclub category which excels in terms of the effective management of social media marketing strategies. Three nightclubs, two rural and one urban, acknowledged the management and implementation of their social media marketing strategy as a team effort, with involvement from personnel from all areas of the organisation. The remaining eight nightclubs relied exclusively on one person to design, manage and implement all of their social media marketing strategies.

In some cases, this responsibility was carried out by a designated marketing manager; however, in most cases no designated marketing manager role exists and the responsibility of social media management was left to the general manger of the nightclub. Perhaps it is unfeasible in rural nightclubs to employ designated marketing personnel due to budgetary and
resource constraints.

In such situations, it may be benefi cial to involve staff members from other areas of the business instead of placing the responsibility on the general manager, who is often preoccupied with other non-marketing-related issues. The rural nightclubs that took part in the study and have already employed such an approach have experienced more successful social media strategies as a result.

With regards to employing a dedicated marketing manager, while this strategy is considerably more benefitcial than relying solely on the general manager, it still appears to be benefi cial to encourage input from other organisational departments, outside of the marketing department, to obtain a fuller picture and maintain a fresh perspective.

Measuring Social Media Marketing Strategies

The diffi culty in measuring social media marketing campaigns highlighted in the literature (Maddox, 2009) is echoed in the responses from nightclubs. None of the nightclubs involved in this research have established a formal, quantitative measure for evaluating the return on their social media marketing efforts.

Some nightclubs measure their social media success by monitoring the level of activity on their social media webpages, while others list informal feedback from customers who attend their events as a key performance

Some nightclubs, particularly the urban clubs, have previously attempted to quantify the effectiveness of their social media activity by measuring attendance of events promoted exclusively through social media and comparing these results to attendance figures for events not advertised through social media, some noting an increase as high as 50 percent for events marketed through social media.

Thus, while some nightclubs have been relatively successful at measuring the effectiveness of promoting once-off events on social media, none of them have yet established a method for measuring the long-term effectiveness of their ongoing social media activity.

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