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Brewery Social Media – Are You Doing it Wrong?

Brewery Social Media – Are You Doing it Wrong?

 

The year was circa 2016, and I was still (not surprisingly) pretty amateur at brewery social media – heck social media altogether. I mainly used Facebook and Twitter, with the latter being a collection of small phrases for my even smaller thoughts.

 

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When it came to interacting with businesses, I relied heavily on their websites. Hours of operation, contact info, etc. All on the website.

It’s the internet, after all, right?

When visiting family out-of-town one summer day, I decided to round them all up and visit a local brewery. It shall remain nameless partially because the name doesn’t matter.
I checked their website, saw they were open that day, and got everyone in the car.

As we pull up, I immediately know something is amiss. This particular brewery was small but popular, so there should’ve been a bunch of cars out front. But the place was emptier than my wallet after a bottle release.

Upon further inspection, I noticed a white piece of paper on the front door.

It read: “Closed early for private party.”

WTF?

Before we could put together a plan B, I was already online, complaining and publicly questioning the brewery about this “inconvenience” of mine.

I was HEATED.

Their response was simple: “Did you not check our Facebook page first?”

 

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Of course, I didn’t. Facebook is for keeping up with your cousins and watching cat videos, right?

Still worked up, I said, “No, I don’t use social media for operating hours. That’s what a website is for.”

The brewery explained that social media was easier for them to post “real-time” updates so that customers were aware of what was going on schedule-wise each day.

That day was a turning point for me. I learned a hard but valuable lesson about the internet and how brewery social media was a little different than I thought at first.

Now, I’m following EVERYBODY so that I’m kept in the loop.

With the growth of social media, especially Instagram, it is absolutely critical that breweries (and all businesses) keep theirs up-to-date.

But unfortunately, many breweries aren’t paying attention and not embracing social media’s value.

More Failed Brewery Social Media Experiences Yield Lost Sales

There was another time that Anthony experienced the exact same thing as me. He also decided to begin checking social first. But what about that one time (lies, there were many) when he reached out to confirm that the most recent times were accurate and we got no response?

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Not wanting to make the same mistake twice – wasting time and gas only to pull up to an empty brewery – Anthony just went somewhere else. That sucks. He and Josh were actually driving around scoring 1-2 cases from each brewery they stopped at. Not only did a decent-sized sale turn into a giant goose egg, but this brewery also missed out on the opportunity to be a part of a big post.

Finally, what about the time when we see that something’s amiss – a glaring typo on the website, a bunch of low-fill cans that made it passed QC, or a leaky seam on a can – and we reach out to let the brewery know only to be ignored?

We send a kind DM explaining what happened and maybe even a quick pic. We quickly see “read’ pop up, and then no reply is ever sent. Wow. Imagine if that same interaction happened in person.

Not having accurate info, not replying or answering questions, and ignoring your customers is a great way to miss out on a sale, so why don’t more breweries commit the time to make this ever-important aspect of their business better?

Go ahead. We’ll wait.

Riiight.

Here are five reasons why breweries MUST become active on social media RIGHT NOW:

1) Everybody is using it! If you don’t believe me, look at the stats. According to Statista, “over 2.7 billion monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2020. That’s the second-biggest continent in the world. While Instagram isn’t the new kid on the block anymore, the platform still saw significant growth in 2020. Instagram users spent an average of 30 minutes per day on the platform last year – that’s an increase of 13.8% over 2019. Instagram also has the 4th-most users of any mobile app, with 500 million people using Instagram Stories every day and 130 million Instagram users tap on shopping posts every month. Let’s not forget Twitter, Tik Tok, and all the rest. With craft beer expected to attain a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 14.1% during . . . (2018-2023), the customers are online, they’re paying attention, and if you’re deaf to that, it’s only going to get louder. To really succeed in marketing craft beer brewers need to thoroughly understand and authentically engage with their customers, and social media is the best place to do it.

2) Customers are already looking for your pages and following you. Keep them updated on daily activities, schedules, and other news. Websites and newsletters are helpful, but it’s those daily (or hourly, in our case) views that will get info right into customers’ skulls with minimal effort. Social media is meant to entertain and inform. If done with balance, an informed and entertained follower becomes a customer. And as long as that high-quality entertainment and informing carries through to a great brewery experience, that follower can become an advocate for your spot when they post about the good time they’re having there!

3) It’s free to start. We’ve had the pleasure and honor of working with a couple of dozen breweries on design, photo, video, and social media projects over the years, and we get it. Brewery budgets are TIGHT and professional marketing is expensive. Why not take advantage of all of your followers posting pictures of them enjoying your latest releases and sitting in your taproom? Repost those pictures on your feed, reshare them in your stories, and comment on their posts. Engagement fosters interest, followers, and customer loyalty. Believe me, nothing is more exciting than seeing a brewery respond to your post.

4) Craft brewing is about storytelling. It’s not just about the beer you make. The guys at 11 Below said it better than anybody: “Beer is a commodity. We don’t sell beer. We sell memories.” People want to see HOW it’s made, WHERE it’s made, WHY it’s made, and they want to be a part of the memories your brewery makes. Craft beer isn’t like most produced goods. There’s a passion and reason behind its creation, and we all want to hear about it. It makes the beer more personal, gives it more value, and ultimately creates a stronger bond between the customer and the brewery. (It’s also one of the many reasons we interview breweries around town.) Your brewery’s persona can shine through social media just as easily as anywhere else.

5) Let us slide into your DMs. It just looks bad if you don’t respond. Don’t just leave people on “Read”. You might not think about this, but if someone reaches out to you on social and you don’t respond, you’ve immediately left a negative impression in their mind. Acknowledging them doesn’t mean immediate action and/or resolution of their complaint either. You can say, “I hear you and we understand” and that in itself is usually what most people want. We’re DMing and messaging each other all day, so hitting up a brewery on the same platforms isn’t unusual. You need to have someone available to respond when a customer has a question. Many a negative Yelp reviews have been written by somebody that didn’t even patronize the brewery, bar, restaurant, etc., simply because they were ignored on social.

 

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Conclusion: Brewery Social Media Has to Grow and Evolve Like the Product

Love it or hate it, social media is massive and here to stay. Even if you don’t use it personally, your brewery has to. At this point, it’s a requirement. Having little to no social media means having nothing for people to get to know you through and no way for them to get in touch.

Don’t misunderstand us, we’re not suggesting that you have to be on every network 24/7. Pick one or two that you can do well, and give them more time and attention, and if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, get some help. We’re very okay at it, so if you want to consult, give us a shout, and we’ll be happy to teach you what we know.

Having experienced what Anthony and I did, I can’t emphasize how important brewery social media is. You don’t have to be experts at it, but you do have to be up-to-date and available. Find someone on your team to manage it, set guidelines, and get started TODAY.

Don’t sweat it too much, though. It doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re stuck, check out the pages of your favorite breweries and see how they’re doing it. Even better, reach out and ask them!

Pro tip: everyone else is doing that too. 🙂

Beers to you, Houston.


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Brent Topa
brent.topa@beerchronicle.com
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