How Social Is Your Beer? (Part I)

One of the biggest opportunities for marketing beer is its social advantage. Unlike more expensive alcoholic options, beer’s price point and range of styles make it more approachable – more democratic. The explosion in popularity of festivals, clubs and themed events is proof of what you probably already know: beer brings people together.

But beer folk don’t just meet in person. Leave your twitter feed open for any length of time and you’ll see beer writers, bar owners and brewmasters having pretty involved conversations – both serious and sarcastic – snippet by snippet. Fans are logging onto Facebook the day after events to see if they can spot themselves and tag their friends in photo albums. Over on Untappd, people are discussing the merits of one beer or another, toasting each others’ check-ins. There’s the oft-overlooked blog, which might seem the least interactive, but built with the right platform and loaded with engaging content has the potential to spread your message to an audience you didn’t even imagine. And then there’s Instagram…

So how are you using social media to promote the very social beverage you produce?

The other day I watched a documentary on the election of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. This is a man who entered a crowded field of candidates with almost no name recognition. A 38-year-old Muslim in the Stampede City who had never served in public office outside of student politics, he knew he had to do things differently to beat the favourite – an alderman with nine years on City Council – and a very popular local television news anchor.

The thing with Nenshi: he was a Harvard-educated marketing professor who understood that financial obstacles (his campaign was funded by credit cards more than contributors) could be overcome if he could get his message to connect with the people in the best position to support his brand. To do that he had to go where they were meeting, and very often that was online.

Think of Obama. His first campaign for the Presidency started in the shadows of the many scaffolds being erected to support Hilary Clinton. It was online engagement across a variety of platforms that turned first the primaries, then the race for the top job, in his favour (although the Oprah-bump sure didn’t hurt).

Most social media platforms are free, which means that with strategy and the right tool set you have the opportunity to meet beer fans pretty much anywhere, with no additional material costs. Why wouldn’t you share your message with them? They’re beer fans. They already like beer. They WANT to spread your message. You just have to give them something worth sharing.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as over the past couple of months I’ve removed myself from some accounts, closed down a couple others and even gave some of my own accounts to friends with fledgling businesses. In total I’ve cut myself off from close to 20,000 ‘followers’ and ‘likes’ since January 31st, including more than 10,000 from one Facebook page alone.

My focus is on focus right now, so whereas I once managed seven twitter accounts from my phone at one time, I’m now down to two. I can still access several Facebook pages, but again I limit myself to two. Do I miss the Pinterest and Tumblr accounts? Yes, but I’m also (not so subtly) looking for work in this field, so I’m leaving myself the capacity to take on others.

Over the next few days I’ll talk more about the different platforms and how breweries and others in the industry are using them. As well, I’ll talk about the tools that make a Social Media Manager’s life easier, and why I think it’s crucial breweries make social media a priority in an increasingly crowded field.

Part II can be found here.

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