Tapping into New-Age Beer Marketing: Beer and Social Media (part 3)

beer-social media

This is the third portion of a three-part series looking at beer companies and social media. Part 1 discussed Big Beer’s increased attention to social media and Part 2 covered examples of Big Beer’s efforts.

Part 3 looks at how smaller craft breweries use social media to connect with customers.

Like any new marketing tool, it always takes a while for a person or company to get the hang of best practices.

With social media, it’s naturally derived from the root of the platform itself – social. But as we’ve seen in part 1 and part 2 of this series, that’s not always the case. Somewhere along the line of building a brand and building a base of loyal consumers, it’s easy to get complacent.

Leave it to the “little guys” to get it right.

Maybe it’s because craft brewers are more akin to the local community movement these days. Maybe it’s because they have to try a little harder.

But no matter the reason, it’s clear that when it comes to the true nature of social media – the “social” part – smaller breweries are reaping the benefits of networks like Facebook and Twitter simply because they’re not afraid to interact, engage and listen.

One of the more impressive “large” craft brewers is Boulevard Brewing out of Kansas City. Their success isn’t necessarily due to large numbers of “likes” or “followers” they’ve accumulated, but rather the actual community you can find online.

In addition to a group photo pool on Flickr which allows anyone to share and submit their Boulevard-related pictures, you may find Boulevard providing witty replies on Twitter or posting about community events on Facebook.

What really stands out is their presence on YouTube, where Boulevard has a collection of “behind the scenes” videos, tasting notes with brewers and more.

“We want to be as transparent and genuine as possible with all of our videos,” said Julie Weeks, marketing communications manager with Boulevard. “We’re fortunate that our employees are able to just be themselves in front of the camera. Some topics such as our one-minute beer videos and troubleshooting segments work great as conversations, which are best told as a video.”

Josh over at Short On Beer has touched on the value of online video for breweries and the gist is this: it’s humanizing, it’s easy and it can only help provide greater information (and hopefully then greater interest) in your brand.

While they may not be as advanced as Boulevard in respect to video, Durham’s Fullsteam Brewery has been able to accomplish just that with success on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

Since opening in 2010, Fullsteam has had a great advantage many of today’s smaller and newer breweries are afforded – they’ve essentially grown up with social media in their back pocket. As such, owner and “Chief Executive Optimist” Sean Lilly Wilson said Fullsteam has been engaging with audiences online from the get-go, using these three core principles:

  • Ask a lot of questions
  • Be fun and respectful
  • Keep it optimistic

“Many businesses aren’t able to make the leap of using branding as a conversation, but we’ve been very lucky in the timing of our brewery to coincide with the rise of social media,” said Wilson, who runs the @Fullsteam Twitter account. “Early on, I saw people cared, they were interested and they liked giving us ideas online to help shape the vision of the brewery. Why would you stop that once you’re open for business?”

… and they haven’t.

What impresses me about both Boulevard and Fullsteam is their commitment to engagement. Not broadcasting their latest products with one-way communication. While making sales is obviously important, it seems clear they’re interested in advancing the idea and community of their product just as much. Craft beer drinkers love to be educated, so it seems only natural.

Even further, creating connections with fans via social media is powerful because it creates brand loyalty. Having engaging conversations only improves the ability to connect and allow for a business to be more of a voice than just a brick-and-mortar location for transactions.

“That’s the beauty of social media – it lets you engage so you can get a taste of the business,” Wilson said. “Assuming we’re doing our job right, you’ll come to our tavern and anticipate your experience because of a conversation we had online.”


15 thoughts on “Tapping into New-Age Beer Marketing: Beer and Social Media (part 3)

  1. Loving this series Bryan, especially given how connected we all are on all of the Social Media platforms out there. While there are many pitfalls with Social Media (especially when a faux pas goes viral!), when done correctly, I can’t think of a better way for a brewery to connect with their customers. And the true beauty of it is that it can all be done with minimal cost. I mean, look at how much of an impact our little blogs can have when the word gets out. The only downside from my perspective is that it’s all quite time consuming.

    1. Thanks for the kind words! You hit on a very important part of social media – especially for the “small” guys.

      While talking to Sean about managing his Fullsteam Twitter account, he pointed out how much time he spends writing and interacting with people. He’s a busy guy running a business and all, but said he pulls up social media whenever he has a free minute, right until he goes to bed.

      1. Sounds like he should bring you on as a part time Social Media consultant. I mean, you know your stuff and have a passion for the subject. I’m sure you’d be happy to be paid with beer. 😉

  2. Definitely following @Fullsteam now. Love me some two-way Twitter love. So romantic.

    Great post.

    1. Two-way Twitter love is much more satisfying.

  3. Nice series. As I say: Hardest working man in the beer blogging biz. You come up with some great post and series ideas beyond the usual beer review.

    1. Really appreciate the compliment.

      You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.

  4. Hey! I am super in love with your blog right now so I nominated you for a Liebster Award. Go to my page to check it out and see what to do next!

    1. Thanks very much! Really appreciate your kind words and the nomination. I’ll look into it.

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