Interview: How Brooklyn Bowl Uses Social Media

By Devon Glenn 

Brooklynites love Brooklyn Bowl for its 16 bowling lanes, live concerts, cushy leather seats, fried chicken from Blue Ribbon, and selection of Brooklyn Brewery beers, but how does the rest of the world discover a remote corner of Williamsburg that’s big enough for a whole bowling alley? And how does the venue keep New Yorkers coming back for more?

Social media.

Founded in 2008, Brooklyn Bowl now has the most-followed Instagram profile of any venue in New York City (8,940 followers). In 2011, “Brooklyn Bowl” was the tenth most-searched Google keyword in the New York metropolitan area.

Justin Bolognino, founder and creative director of Learned Evolution, leads the social strategy for his clients at Brooklyn Bowl, who strive to provide the same experience online that they do in person. “We’re constantly reaching out to people to build a tight-knit community online,” Bolognino said.

Brooklyn Bowl advertises almost exclusively through social media. “We’re big fans of Promoted Tweets,” said Bolognino, and “as Facebook makes it more difficult to be seen, we’re exploring paid media.” But mostly, the company relies on free tools.

Brooklyn Bowl’s social strategy balances data-driven content, like providing show times and ticket information, with real-time engagement. They use use Hootsuite’s social dashboard to create and monitor content, and track analytics with tools like TweetReach and Nitrogeam (for Instagram).

“We are quite heavy on the Twitter and the Facebook,” Bolognino said, but he and his staff also use Pinterest, Foursquare, and Vine to stay touch with the bowling alley’s customers. Staff members regularly monitor the social media sites in order to respond to questions and concerns.

The social campaigns also appeal to the creativity of the bowlers. Every week, Brooklyn Bowl hosts a pictogram contest where social media followers decipher the meaning of a cartoon to win tickets to an upcoming show. These cartoons, like the one above, average 75-100 comments per post.

During a show, Brooklyn Bowl collects all the related media that the guests are sharing and puts it on the big screen through a platform called HyperPages that feeds in real-time Tweets, Instagrams, and Vines.

Does all that photography diminish the experience of sharing a bowling lane and a beer with friends? Not at all, said Bolognino. “It adds a memory to their collective memory bank to have and share for as long as the cloud exists.”

And when the customers take the time to share a memory through a photo, video, or post from a live show, he added, “You’re a storyteller, just like the band that you’re watching.”