Getting social right for your craft beverage brand

Last time we took control of search ranking and performance for your brand, so now it’s time to address a question that I’ve gotten a lot lately: how do I make social work for me (and not against me)? It’s a question that’s challenging many industries, not just craft beverage, but the answer is even more elusive when the market is crowded with A-players and the individual messages get lost. Let me explain.

Social Primer screen image What is the difference between the craft brands that have tens of thousands of followers with through-the-roof engagement and the vast majority that just enjoy non-remarkable performance? Truth is, unless you’re on the inside of a hot social property you can only guess. But chances are good if they didn’t recently get awarded or written-up, or promote or boost their posts, then they’ve figured out exactly WHAT content engages their [current and prospective] audience and WHEN/WHERE they are active. Once you know those three things, you are guaranteed to be more engaging to your existing fans who will serve as a megaphone to recruit new ones.

I’ve put together a list of best practices to help you set and exceed your audience engagement goals on the key social platforms for craft beverage. I’ll plan on taking the next couple emails to deliver all the resources I have to help you get social right for your craft beverage brand.

The List, por favor

SOCIAL NETWORKS FOR CRAFT BEVERAGE

You might suggest that every major social network is valuable for spreading the craft love. And you wouldn’t be wrong. However, producers I know have to prioritize their time, effort and resources on the platforms that will provide the greatest return for the investment. That is how I’ve sorted the list below: greatest-to-least worthy of your attention.

  1. Instagram: it’s estimated that a third of all adults use Instagram. Cans, packaging, events (pre- and post-promotion), brewing, distilling, harvest…all very visual means of quick-hit storytelling which deserve to be on Instagram in photo or short-video format.  Short text blurbs, if needed.
  2. Facebook: largest group of social users and a cost-of-entry for many producers. More of an active, sometimes energized, dialogue happening here. Be aware of its use as a customer service channel. Many similar visuals can be dual-posted/syndicated to both Instagram and Facebook to save time.
  3. YouTube: great for DIY and long-form content. Craft producers who have experienced success with YouTube often have a calendar of content that they produce, i.e. a podcast or series/thematic show.  Consider if you have a big personality that is always on [brand].
  4. Twitter: I like Twitter for new releases, award announcements, real-time event notifications, infographics and other news content that can be shoe-horned into <280 characters.
  5. Pinterest: while very visual like Instagram, most of the craft producers I’ve studied don’t actively use Pinterest, and if they do it’s often to pin something of personal interest.
  6. Google+: falls of the list, unless you have a blog (like WordPress) or a social tool (like Sprout Social, see below) that allows for syndication, or one-to-many posting. I don’t see many brands actively growing or promoting their Google+ presence.

Again, there are many other social networks, apps and related platforms – these are suggestions based on where statistically most craft players are placing their bets. If you do choose to use another platform, be sure a significant enough portion of your customer base is already there AND that a majority of users are 21 years of age or older.

BEST PRACTICES FOR BEVERAGE SOCIAL

Whether posting to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or others, some best practices will help you and your team gain traction in social that leads to engagement, traffic and sales.

  1. Separate your personal and business profiles: very rarely is the person the brand people want to follow. You may be the owner, the mastermind, the deep pockets…however, posts about your hobbies or jokes and memes that are funny to you and your friends should live on your personal pages, not the company ones. Not sure whether you have a business page/profile?  Here’s more info on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
  2. Research and respond to what customers want to see: use social tracking and listening tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social to see which of your posts (and your competitors’ posts) are generating the most engagement through likes, comments, shares and other measures. Understand what it is about those posts that causes such a stir and, if appropriate, start posting more like that! Don’t post something irrelevant to your brand story just to get a response. Consider the following:
What is sharable contentWhat content gets comments
Professional photos
Videos – live gets up to 3x more attention!
Events worth attending
Charitable causes
Posts from unique locations
Tagging people in posts
Posting a question
Anniversary/milestone events
Availability of a beer, wine or spirit
New distribution
Recent awards
What is sharable content
Professional photos
Videos – live gets up to 3x more attention!
Events worth attending
Charitable causes
Posts from unique locations
Tagging people in posts
What content gets comments
Posting a question
Anniversary/milestone events
Availability of a beer, wine or spirit
New distribution
Recent awards

 

  1. Post actively, when your customers are online1: this varies by region, industry and audience. 75% or more of the population of the United States lives or works in the Eastern and Central time zones, so take that into consideration when scheduling your posts. There are some generally-accepted windows of opportunity that craft producers should be aware of:
      Social Primer posting commuters image

    • Instagram: Monday and Thursday; 2am, 8-9am and 5pm. Post more off-hours than during work day for maximum engagement.
    • Facebook: Sunday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 1am, 1pm (most shares) and 3pm (most clicks). Funny or upbeat content Friday afternoon scores highest on engagement.
    • Twitter: Wednesday; 12pm, 3pm, 5-6pm. Peak engagement during workday breaks and during their commute.
  2. Set guidelines for content: whether you, a team member or agency partner are posting, it’s a good idea to set guidelines for the tone, personality and voice of posts. This is a longer discussion, but posts over time shape perception of the brand just as much if not more than advertising, point of sale and other marketing efforts. It’s important for everyone speaking on behalf of the brand to be the best representative possible else the dynamics of social could stir up a storm that you weren’t prepared to combat.
    • Keep content short on most platforms.
    • Be sure that video is impactful with or without sound.
    • Watch for followers using social as a customer service channel: there is always an unrealistic expectation of speed associated with a query – whether praise or compliant – made via social channels.
    • Attempt to connect further with fans through reposts, retweets and replies to valuable content.
  3. Social Primer post image

  4. Encourage users to submit content: contests, polls, surveys, questions all prompt engagement from your audience. Provide clear guidelines for submission. Be careful not to ask too many questions – you’ll come across like a scientist conducting a study. Also, questions that prompt debate or open-ended questions about service may end up backfiring when delivered via social.
  5. Use 2-4 appropriate hashtags: hashtags extend the reach of your posts to similar brands and audiences. For example, if you were a recent winner at GABF, the nation’s foremost brewer’s conference, then posting a shout-out while tagging #GABF or #GABF2018 as well as the other individual winners would be completely appropriate. Plus, you’re introducing your brand to new audiences in a relevant way.
  6. Authorize multiple users to post: with guidelines for posting in place, you should be able to trust team members to create and curate content on behalf of the brand. Not only does this multiply your resources, but it lets the customer see the brand through a couple sets of eyes which can add to the personality and voice you’ve established. There are social tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite that help align and manage multiple posters.

 

Sprout Social Discount
If you haven’t already, visit SproutSocial.com, a tool to help monitor, grow and track social media efforts.  I’ve evaluated a number of tools and I find this to be the most insightful and easiest to use, with access to a single interface for posting content to all major social platforms.  As an advisor, I qualify for discounted pricing of $150/month for up to 2 users and 3 social profiles (i.e. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) for Enterprise-level services.  Additional profiles and users can be purchased.

What I’m reading this week:

  1. Trade groups form the “Beer Growth Initiative”: I’m curious if the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), the Brewers Association (BA) and the Beer Institute (BI) will create the next “Got Milk?” campaign for craft beer…
  2. New Belgium and Knob Creek collaboration: I have to give New Belgium credit for partnering with the right Small Batch Bourbon.  Close to my heart, I used to work on this brand at Jim Beam and can’t wait to try it: “Oakspire is a unique bourbon barrel ale aged with bourbon-steeped oak spirals and char from inside the barrel. Smooth notes of toffee, vanilla and caramel wrap up with a pleasantly warm finish.”
  3. Standing out at the Great American Beer Festival comes at a cost: it’s tough to stand out as one of 800 breweries slinging 4,000 beers, especially when 10×10 end caps fetched $4,500-$8,000.  Check out the notable brand activations before planning for #GABF2019.
  4. Jerry Brown loosens restrictions on winery event promotion for California retail: the reform bill allows wineries to communicate on social media about winemaker dinners, instructional tastings, and other events, including pictures of the retailer’s premises, customers, and website, among other info.
  5. Top 68 Double IPAs (DIPAs): got to give Tree House Brewing Co. credit for always being on the list, with two DIPAs in the top two spots this year.  Double IPAs, yum…

1 Ellering, N. (2018, April 4). What 23 Studies Say About The Best Times To Post On Social Media. Retrieved from https://coschedule.com/blog/best-times-to-post-on-social-media/.

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