It recently dawned on me that many breweries are building their social media identities using Facebook, Twitter and the like, but sadly most of them just don’t get how to fully utilize these tools. I know for a brewery it’s a tricky area because you want to make sure you are marketing to the people who can drink your beer and it’s hard to confirm people’s age on Twitter but Facebook actually makes it very easy to verify age and even requires it in their TOS. However, think about this – even on websites where breweries ask if you are over 21 and require a date of birth, any 3rd or 4th grader can figure out the math required to say they are of legal drinking age. Therefore, I say be not afraid of social media and instead embrace social media! Most of those who follow your accounts will be those interested in your product and fans of your product to begin with.
In my observations, most breweries, and business too, tend to think social media is just about posting events, food for thought, or other news tidbits but not for interacting with your customers – which is what social media is all about. Those who think that social media is only about posting events, food for thought or news tidbits you couldn’t be more wrong and are not getting as much out of social media sites as they could. Just posting a question is great but that then means you need to remain active in the discussion and embrace your customers.
Both services are wonderful and allow for mentioning using @ tags and other methods of engaging those you are responding to so that they get tagged. Make sure you are using these unique features as it pertains to each platform because it makes your customer feel like more than just a number and like a valued customer whose opinions matter. It tends to turn fair-weather customers into loyal ones because they see you care about their opinions of your brand and product.
Also, when it comes to Facebook don’t be afraid to use the Share Link when someone writes something about you, same goes for using the Retweet (RT) button on Twitter. This doesn’t mean that you need to RT and Share every mention of your brewery because, let’s face it, not everything deserves it. However, it doesn’t mean you should only share positive stuff; embrace the negative too – for example if a person truly dislikes one of your offerings engage them to find out why. By engaging that person in thoughtful discussion about their experience with a beer that was not to their particular taste you may encourage them to try your other stuff. However, ignoring them may make them to decide to give up on you all together. I’ll admit that some of my favorite breweries offer a beer or two that may not be to my liking while other beers are right up my alley, and that is one of the things that makes beer so amazing.
When it comes to social media, a brewery can choose to have multiple accounts to cover different areas they feel their consumers are interested in or one official company account, either approach is valuable. The approach a brewery chooses depends on a few factors; time and resources they want to invest, overall goals or desire to keep things simple. However, the wrong way to do social media is to just post stuff and not engage your fans/followers.
Like I said I don’t think that every brewery gets it wrong. I feel there are some that completely understand social media and get it right. Take for example both Dogfish Head and Stone Brewing Company. Dogfish Head has taken a single company account approach to Twitter (@dogfishbeer) and Facebook and they use each of them very well. (Some local reps have their own accounts specific to their market and events.) Mariah, who runs both their Facebook & Twitter accounts, does an amazing job of engaging fans and sharing the happenings at the brewery. Dogfish also happens to use blogs posted on their website by top people within the company to allow the consumer an inside view of what’s happening. Mariah links to these posts which encourages more people to explore the Dogfish website.
Stone, on the other hand, uses a two-headed approach which works well for them because it fits into their brand identity. The company uses @StoneBrewingCo and Greg Koch tweets as himself using @StoneGreg since he has his own arrogance that fits his image and the brand’s image. This approach works in great harmony as @StoneBrewingCo focuses on everything Stone is doing at the brewery and events elsewhere. While Greg’s account mentions the brewery stuff, he also focuses on his travels and experiences sharing his love of craft beer. Greg also uses his personal Facebook profile to engage with fans and share his ideas about his beer.
I am aware that most craft breweries have small marketing budgets but social media is a phenomenon because other than the salary of a person who handles it, Facebook and Twitter are free services and the return can be astronomical compared to the investment. That return is only limited by the time and effort put into it. After a while if you are interacting with your fans you will have a very engaged audience who will share your information, helping your message get out to their followers who may in turn try your beer and become a new customer.
So engage social media and the wonders it beholds. As the Jewish text says about the Torah the same is true of social media, “It is a tree of life to those that hold fast to it and all of its supporters are happy.” Therefore, don’t be afraid of the social media giant, embrace it, hold it fast, and enjoy the ride and the exposure it will give you and your brand if used to its fullest potential.
And that’s … From My Mellin!