CINCINNATI -- In 2014, Jacob Trevino used Facebook to launch Gorilla Cinema as a series of pop-up events designed to bring together people who loved movies, drinks and food.
The success of those events led Trevino to turn Gorilla Cinema into a company and open two movie-themed bars: the horror movie-inspired Overlook Lodge in Pleasant Ridge in 2015 and the Quentin Tarantino-themed speakeasy Video Archive in Walnut Hills last October.
"We were born on Facebook," Trevino said of Gorilla Cinema. "That’s the reason this company exists."
Because of that history, Trevino said he was not surprised by people’s confusion when he announced in a January blog post that Gorilla Cinema planned to "abandon" Facebook this year.
“As a Facebook user, I get frustrated with the platform,” Trevino said. “We spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to connect with people on social media. We took a step back to say, 'Does this affect the butts in the seats?'"
After limiting the number of Facebook posts from Gorilla Cinema and his bars late last year, Trevino said he felt pretty confident in answering "no" to that question.
"What we noticed is when we decided to rein back a little bit, we actually got a little busier," he said.
'We're just going to stop shouting at you'
Gorilla Cinema will continue to use Facebook and other social media platforms to some degree as the year progresses, Trevino said.
"It is not a 100 percent jump off the boat -- we’re just going to stop shouting at you," he said.
In October, he hired two full-time staff members to launch a year-long series of creative pop-up events designed to promote Gorilla Cinema, the Overlook Lodge and Video Archive.
Special events coordinator Charlie Moore is working on the first event, Pop Art Con, an interactive art experience that will take place April 8 at the Woodward Theater in Over-the-Rhine. Pop Art Con will mix themed cocktails, food and more than 50 local and national artists working in the theater. Creators will include comic book artists, sculptors, screen printers and jewelry makers.
Moore said he used the skills he learned while working in the comic book industry for 25 years, as well as four years as owner of the Derby City Comic Con in Louisville, Kentucky, to create the event.
"The Pop Art Con idea came from asking what do people enjoy most about comic book conventions," Moore said. "It’s that live art experience. It’s got a vibrant community."
Trevino said bartenders and staff from both the Overlook Lodge and Video Archive will work Pop Art Con to help promote the bars. The Overlook Lodge is also currently hosting “Drink and Draw” events the second and fourth Wednesday of each month leading up to Pop Art Con.
Gorilla Cinema, marketing evolve
Trevino believes the declining impact of Gorilla Cinema’s event and general posts on Facebook has to do with how many businesses now use the platform as a marketing tool.
“Why are we marketing in the same way that every other bar in the city markets?” he said. "It’s laziness."
He added that with two bars and continued special events, Gorilla Cinema has evolved as well.
"We are a creative experience company," Trevino said. "That is all we do, create these unique, fun experiences. Why shouldn’t we be marketing that way, too?"
There initially will be occasional posts letting customers know what is happening, but eventually he hopes word of Gorilla Cinema’s special events takes on a life of its own.
"We want people to engage with the brand online," Trevino said. "We want people to take photos, tag us and use things like #PopArtCon. We don’t want to have to be the ones initiating those conversations. We want to create a chorus of people shouting about us."
He also admitted Gorilla Cinema is taking a chance.
"It’s an experiment," Trevino said. "I am very well aware I may have to write the post ‘How we failed to leave Facebook’ next year."