4 Bellingham Businesses Doing Social Media Right

Have you liked any Bellingham businesses on Facebook? Of course you have! Now, what about tagging that business in a post saying you were at their location? Chances are good that if you’ve ever done either of those, you did it at one of these four businesses. Between the four of them, they not only represent a huge number of likes and visits on Facebook; their social media presence is excellent. If you’re looking for tips building out your own business’ social media, take notes from these guys.

Boundary Bay Brewery

Boundary Bay Facebook page mountain and beer

Perhaps Bellingham’s best-loved brewery, Boundary Bay is certainly the most popular on Facebook. The brewery has logged a staggering 22,901 Facebook likes, and has been tagged almost 35,000 times as a location in Facebook posts from users. These numbers alone make it the most successful local business on social media (using likes as the metric), almost beating out the city itself in total likes. So what’s their secret?

No doubt part of Boundary Bay’s success has to do with their well-earned reputation as a great place for beer and food. But the brewery also works actively to keep themselves at the top of customer’s minds through social media. The Boundary Bay Facebook page is updated almost every day, usually several times. The posts are usually short and to the point, with great photos accompanying them. The content ranges from promotions, to info on the company’s community engagement, and events being held at the location.

The active Facebook presence isn’t the only way Boundary Bay engages with customers. They post on Twitter even more prolifically than Facebook, and also maintain a regularly updated Instagram. Each outlet contains short content relevant to the customers, and great images that get you craving beer (or food, or live music).

Boundary Bay represents a living example effective and engaging use of social media for a business, and should serve as the baseline for a food service business looking to improve their social media presence.

Boundary Bay’s SM Outlets:



The Upfront Theater

Upfront Theater Facebook page scene from holiday play

The Upfront Theater is another Bellingham icon, made doubly famous by its owner, Whose Line Is It Anyway star and Bellingham native Ryan Stiles. Although the Upfront doesn’t have the sheer weight of engagement that Boundary Bay does, garnering only a little over 7,700 likes, the theater’s social media presence is still excellent.

Notable right from the start is that the theater has been mentioned as a location almost as many times as it has been liked, with just over 7,000 visits. That’s pretty unusual for a business page, and it demonstrates that people love talking about them. Usually, when a business is mentioned in a post, it’s because someone either had a great time or a horrible time at that location, and wants to tell everyone about it. With an average user review of 4.6 out of 5, its safe to say the Upfront is usually in the former category. Getting other Facebook users talking about you on their feeds is arguably more important than getting them to like your page, so the Upfront is doing a great job of generating buzz about themselves.

Another way that the Upfront Theater is capitalizing on their social media is by generating engagement through interactive promotions. That’s a long-winded way of saying they host contests for free tickets. Free contests, especially ones that involve posting on the page, are one of the best ways to get customers engaging on your social media. For the Upfront, it’s as simple as asking users to name two singers that would make a great musical duo, and granting a random user free tickets (that contest got over 30 people to comment).

The Upfront represents a business that doesn’t have massive resources (they employ three office staff; the rest are volunteers) but still manages to make the most of their social media. They’re proof that you don’t need a full-time marketing team to be effective!

The Upfront’s SM Outlets:



Hotel Bellwether

Hotel Bellwether facebook page Lighthouse sunset

The Hotel Bellwether is in a very competitive industry for online marketing. Hotels occupy a major part of customer-oriented web content, with websites like TripAdvisor allowing users to offer in-depth reviews of specific hotels and B&Bs. Large chains like Best Western and La Quinta often dominate these websites, and Bellingham is no exception. That’s where the Hotel Bellwether’s use of social media comes in.

Although it isn’t the highest rated hotel on TripAdvisor, the Hotel Bellwether dominates Facebook and Twitter. The hotel is by far the most liked in Bellingham on Facebook, and it keeps users engaged with regular updates (noticing a trend yet?). A lot of the updates also include content created in partnership with other Bellingham businesses, like Bellingham Explorer or Boundary Bay.

What makes the Bellwether stand out from its competitors is the use of social media to build connections within the Bellingham community. Posts about holiday events, collaborations between the restaurant and local businesses, and even just a sunset over the bay establish the Bellwether as a local fixture, instead of just one more large hotel. It’s a simple way to differentiate a business, but it offers great value when trying to compete with national chains. Any small business looking to break into a market that involves major retailers should take notes from the Bellwether’s approach towards using social media.

Hotel Bellwether’s SM Outlets:



The Shakedown

The Shakedown facebook page club interior

The Shakedown is one of downtown Bellingham’s premier destinations for live music. The business itself acts almost primarily as a venue, although it also serves food and alcohol. Social media has also come to be the primary means to spread the word about shows, and a Facebook event is basically mandatory these days if you want an audience to show up. In order to be an effective venue, a business needs to use social media to spread the word, and the Shakedown understands that very well.

Although the Shakedown’s actual Facebook puts up only average numbers for likes and visits, the real story lies in the post history. Almost every post the Shakedown makes links to an event and incorporates a high-quality image (usually a band’s cover photo). Although engagement on the posts is low, if you follow the link to the event page itself you’ll find extensive commenting and posting.

Not every event page draws high levels of engagement, but the relative popularity of an event is tied to the band, not the Shakedown itself. What the Shakedown does well is provide a complete list of the events they are hosting, which is easily accessible on Facebook. The potential to engage is there, whether or not bands and their fans want to take advantage of it. That’s what a nightclub/venue/bar needs to do to support their musical guests and customers, and the Shakedown definitely delivers.

The Shakedown’s SM Outlets:



Do you know about any other Bellingham businesses that make exceptional use of social media? How about any tips for businesses to make better use of the social media options available to them? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Tobias Osterhaug

Tobias Osterhaug

Tobias is a full-time contributor to Bellingham Business News, covering local business events, tech news, and advice for job seekers in the Bellingham area. He graduated from Western Washington University with a double major in History and Chinese Language & Cultural Studies, and has previously worked as a coordinator in Western’s Writing Center.


  1. December 14, 2014 at 8:37 am

    This list is a great start, but there are lots of other businesses that could be on this list. The Woods Coffee deserves a mention in this list for sure. There’s also brands like Super feet and Logos Bible Software (which I helped grow from 27k to 125k fans on FB) that are fantastic examples of succeeding in business with social media. A good start to highlighting Bellingham social media though.

  2. January 5, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Right you are Nate! Bellingham has a host of businesses doing a great job with social media. If you’d like to see your own company highlighted as an example of excellent business practices in Bellingham, please contact us about doing a sponsored post. We’d love to help you get more exposure through quality content.

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