I’ve been going on about how individual local craft breweries have utilized social media for their benefit. Although I like beer and have been known for a few fb posts here and there, I’m certainly no expert in either. In doing some research is was interesting to get the opinions of some experts from the beer and social media blog-o-sphere.
I was surprised to see this from Taylor McQuiston of The Portable Bar Company blog, “The truth is, social media is probably not the best way for a craft brewery just getting started to market themselves. Social media often takes a long time to get going so you can expect to be at it for a while before you really see any significant returns.
However, for craft brewery’s that utilize effectively over a longer period of time, social media is an incredibly valuable tool. Done properly, it integrates into all the other aspects of running a brewery and so can pay off big long term without having to invest a lot up front.” I have to wonder if he believes that most craft beer start ups have deep pockets for more traditional marketing campaigns.
McQuiston does offer some good advice on how to start using social media for outreach. He emphasizes that breweries should focus on telling their own unique story , keep their fans up to date, get involved with two-way conversations and focusing on their own community.
Digital Relativity, an online magazine, offers a Q & A with host Pat Strader and John Cochran, co-founder of Terrrapin Beer Co. Cochran sings the praises of how social media has revolutionized craft beer marketing. Here’s a sample:
“Pat: Do you feel that craft brewers have evolved with their approach and use of marketing and communication tools?
John: As a group of mostly small business owners, we do not have the funds for traditional marketing. In fact, most brewers will tell you, “We don’t advertise. All of our promoting is one-on-one with the consumer.” Which is exactly why many brewers are using social media – it is a new way of having one-on-one communication – with lots of people at once.”
“Pat: It seems that many craft brewers have eschewed marketing and feel that the beer stands for itself. As we approach the predicted 2700 breweries in 2013, what are your thoughts on the importance of marketing for craft brewers, and digital marketing in particular, moving forward?
John: I don’t think most craft brewers have eschewed marketing. It’s more a case of what the old guard considers “marketing” is not the best way to reach our core audience. Remember, craft beer is still only 5% of the overall beer market. So buying a bill board or running a TV ad are not effective ways to reach the Millennial generation. Hence the connection between craft beer and social media.”
According to Gerry Moran, who writes for Marketing Think, a social media and marketing blog, social media is an ideal way for small craft brewers to reach their target audience because their audience is also looking for them.
“Craft beer represents only 5% of the overall beer market, but it’s pouring on more drinkers every day. Mintel reports that craft beer sales in the United States shows that sales nearly doubled between 2007 and 2012, increasing from $5.7 billion in 2007 to $12 billion in 2012. How do these craft brewers and bar connect with their customers? Many craft beer drinkers search and follow their favorite businesses on social media to keep tabs on their favorite beers or beers that they want to try! This social media search and follow activity is helping craft beer bars be even more successful than their competitors!”
As sure as craft beer is not Budweiser or Miller, social media marketing is not a $450,000 TV ad campaign targeting males during Monday Night Football. They are both different animals and should be treated as such. As the brewing industry grows, chipping away at the macro-brew market share 1% point at a time, American tastes in beer are slowly evolving. The macro-brews have already responded with their own private labels and buying out some craft breweries. It is my hope that in the not to distant future, a tipping point will be reached and true beer will prevail. Social media in the hands of millennials is speeding that process up.