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This weekend my wife and I took a quick fun trip up to Chicago. I actually hadn't had a chance to go since I moved to Atlanta last March so I was itching to get back. We had an awesome weekend, one you can read about over on her blog. Eventually, one of our nights took us to a place called "The Violet Hour." When my friend that we were hanging out with, Adam, mentioned that we should head to the bar next door...we were skeptical. Mainly because we didn't see a bar next door but a large wooden wall with a mural painted on it. However, in true Chicago speakeasy fashion, there was a bar hidden behind the inconspicuous wall. It was hands down one of the best experiences I've had in a bar setting.

If you've been to Chicago bars, namely ones in Wrigleyville where I used to live, it's anything but cordial. It's loud, bro-ish, and can get a little out of hand. Personally, I find a quiet, chill place to talk more of a preferred way of hanging out so I felt right at home at The Violet Hour. This bar actually had rules, some including no cell phones, being dressed appropriately, no add-ons to your party and only bringing in people that you would feel suitable to bring to your mother's house for a Sunday dinner. Seriously, that last one was a rule. 

This bar lacked a few things: traditional signage, no apparent advertising, and no promoters on the corner handing out flyers. Even after I went home, I looked on Facebook for Violet Hour and saw a lack of messaging or gimmicks. However, a lack of "marketing" didn't hinder the success of the bar. Its website included articles from Esquire and Vanity Fair lauded the venue as one of the best bars in the country...if not the world. Obviously, the bar is doing well as a small business.

So it made me think....is social media always necessary?

I believe social is something that can't be ignored. I also believe that we look at social from a one-sided lens to often. As a brand, Violet Hour didn't try and get me to subscribe to anything or Like or Follow them in any way. I received no incentive for writing this post or tweeting about it later.

But...I am writing and tweeting about them. Why? What's the value exchange?

Violet Hour provided my Adam, my wife and I with an amazing experience. Their venue was like nothing I had been to before and very unique to the typical Chicago hipster bar scene. We had great service and the drinks were probably the best quality I've had in comparison to most places. It was a compelling enough brand interaction that I felt the need to tell my friends about it when I got home.

Wouldn't Violet Hour want to get on Facebook or Twitter and re-share or retweet customer experiences like this?

Sure they could. Yeah they would spread more awareness. However, that approach doesn't really fit their brand. They aren't trying to cram a lot of people into their bar. It has a positioning of exclusivity, with a list of house rules to whittle down some of their clientele. They could be on Facebook but - from my one night exposure - it doesn't seem to fit their brand. (They didn't even allow cell phones usage inside their walls!)

When Should I Use/Not Use Social?

I would say one should always pay attention to social more often than not. It should never be ignored. However, it comes down to prioritizing where your time is best spent. Sometimes its best spent on Facebook. Sometimes Twitter or Pinterest. Maybe none of the above. You have to do what's right for your product or brand. That's where marketing strategy really comes into play.

Your best poker players don't play every hand. They know when to opt out of a hand. Sometimes the best strategy is knowing  when to opt out of certain channels.

What's your strategy?