Projecting Cool: How a Paris Bar Cultivates Cache Online

Friendly is not the first word most people would use to describe Paris. It is a beautiful and varied city, filled with creative people and buzzing cafés. But like with many cities, the coolest places are discoverable only by word-of-mouth, whether that means knowing the right bartender or finding the best blog.

There are no “come in please!” signs at trendsetting Paris bars like Experimental Cocktail Club and Silencio, and the bouncers are sure to give you a dubious up-and-down. That sense of exclusivity is reflected online. ECC, with bars in Paris, London and New York, has a Facebook group with under 1,000 members, and New York is its only outpost with a Twitter account.

Maintaining privacy is one way of being cool, but three Paris bars are changing the city’s scene by serving high-end cocktails, giving people a good time, and welcoming online interaction.

Starting in 2011 with taqueria and cocktail bar Candelaria, founders Josh Fontaine, Carina Tsou, and Adam Tsou have since opened Glass and Le Mary Celeste. Glass is a shabby-chic Pigalle bar serving impeccable cocktails and a selection of hot dogs. They welcome different musicians and DJs each night, and a sound-proofed interior means people dance until 4 a.m. without disturbing the sex shops next door. Alternatively, Le Mary Celeste provides oyster happy hour and serious cocktails out of a bright, clean space in the North Marais.

Each bar brings a different look and feel, so Arash Hajianpour, director of special operations, approaches the building of each online presence accordingly. With more than 1,200 followers on Twitter, Candelaria connects with an international cocktail community and keeps loyal customers apprised on their latest taco offerings.

“People do get excited about that,” Hajianpour said. “It’s crazy how much people really love tacos.”

Though Glass and Le Mary Celeste have smaller Twitter audiences, they’re growing at a steady pace. “We’ve noticed any time we’ve written a tweet, we get two more followers,” Hajianpour said. “And if we put somebody’s handle on there, then their followers start following us. It’s very geometric; it’s not one-to-one, it’s two to four, to eight.”

With Glass, Hajianpour focuses on publicizing nightly events via Facebook, aiming to establish an overarching concept at the same time. The bar’s cover photo is a psychedelic-patterned schedule for the week, and DJ sets or musicians are announced with corresponding images. Posts are in both English and French, making rock n’ roll nights accessible to an international clientele.

“We want people to keep Glass in mind,” Hajianpour said. “[We want] to make sure people are aware of what we’re going for at the bar, kind of gently beat it into their heads.”

At Mary Celeste, the attention is on the menu and the cocktails. Tweets on tête de cochon and asparagus meet Facebook posts on milk punch and bloody mary. The restaurant opened in December, and it now has a few thousand Facebook likes.

“We use social media to make sure that people know this is a cocktail bar, it’s a place to share great food with friends, it’s all these elements together,” Hajianpour elaborated.

Perhaps these tactics wouldn’t be out of place on the New York bar scene, but this trio is setting a trend for high-quality Parisian locales. Each one makes their ambiance clear online through original content, while their overall purpose is to instigate a shared experience. Hajianpour responds to all tweets and recognizes any mentions in the press, of which there are many.

“[We do] the social media thing because we don’t want to feel disconnected from the people who come into the bars, or the restaurant,” Hajianpour said. “If we didn’t have that [online] presence, and people weren’t able to throw a shout out or something and get a response, then we’re missing the point of why we’re in this in the first place. For us, it just makes sense to be involved.”

Glass will soon have a Tumblr, and Hajianpour says all the bars will keep pace with whatever digital developments his customers want.

“We’re not marketing a brand,” he added. “We just want to hang out with people and have a nice time, and have people enjoy themselves when they’re with us. So whatever can aid that and whatever people appreciate, we’ll be there.”

There are still no “come in” signs on the door, but anyone searching for these bars online will find an immediate welcome.

Image by Flickr

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