The Craft Beer Biz: How To Attract Customers Via Social Media

Owning your own business is tough. Owning a craft beer business, well that's just downright bonkers!

 Illustration by Natalie K Nelson

Illustration by Natalie K Nelson

Considering that Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors still currently make up 72% of all US beer sales, it is an incredibly brave venture for any wannabe brewer. Ever since nationwide craft beer boom that began over a decade ago, the level of frustration between small & big beer companies has grown into a gaping chasm of outrage. Craft beers companies are just now beginning to flex their little muscles in the face of beer giants like Budweiser and Coors. Although big beer accounts for the majority of the market share, it still leaves 28% for craft and import businesses, totaling approximately $22.3 billion. That's a lot of dough to be spread around. Now, you can probably see why more entrepreneurs are taking a stab at the craft beer industry!

Enough financial chit-chat, let's talk strategy! So, how exactly can your craft brewery stand out from the pack? It's not as difficult as you may think, but it does involve a little social media know-how. Before we start, bust out your #2 pencil and notebook because this is valuable information that you can start implementing right away!

GET A SNAPCHAT ACCOUNT

Snapchat is by far the most desired application by Millennials aged 18-34 with 60% of smartphone users regularly snapping. Granted, you aren't selling your product to anyone under 21, but you won't be "selling" your beer on this platform anyway. Your goal is to tell a story and find an audience--a huge audience that's waiting for a tech savvy beer company to figure out how to use this very non-intuitive application. Snapchat fails in terms of measuring ROI because their analytical data is basically nonexistent at this point. Whereas Facebook, Twitter, and Google have well-established tools for measuring data, Snapchat is still figuring out this important marketing aspect. 

 See what we did here? You can do it, too! Just make a super simple graphic targeted for a particular location, date & time, so you're not paying through the nose for advertising.

See what we did here? You can do it, too! Just make a super simple graphic targeted for a particular location, date & time, so you're not paying through the nose for advertising.

Make use of Snapchat Geofilters. They are a great way to brand your company and encourage engagement. Imagine this, you are holding your 1st Annual Brew Festival featuring a few local bands, some delicious food, and your beer. Everyone that shows up to this event can find your tailor made Geofilter with your logo on it. Before you know it, your brand is getting exposure all over Snapchat in a very fun and organic way.

Do not consider Snapchat as a platform to advertise. No one is looking for the hard sell here. This is a venue to tell viewers your unique story and to create something different from Facebook and Twitter. Don't worry if you aren't happy with your posts either, because they'll disappear within 24 hours anyway. It's the best place to experiment and see what resonates with your beer drinking audience.

FACEBOOK EVENTS TAB

 Creating an event is easy and can be done right from the Facebook mobile app. 

Creating an event is easy and can be done right from the Facebook mobile app. 

If you're a brewery that regularly holds events like taproom tastings and growler hours, but aren't posting them to Facebook Events, then you are missing out on a huge source of free advertising! Did you notice in your Facebook feed that your friend "Matt is planning to attend an event near you tomorrow?" You probably say to yourself, "What event could this possibly be and why didn't he ever tell me?!" So, you click on the notification and realize that it's the big Jazz Festival that happens once every summer at a local brewery. You've always wanted to go, but you nearly forgot this year. Thankfully, you received a notification telling you of the event that you nearly missed. Phew, that was close! 

If you are a brewery, it is very important to update your events so people know what you have coming up. Of course, they could check the list of events on your company website, but that wouldn't have nearly the same reach as Facebook Events. Do yourself a favor and spend a few extra minutes filling out this often overlooked tool.

ASK EMPLOYEES TO SHARE POSTS ABOUT BREWERY

It might feel awkward at first, but asking employees in a small organization to help sell a business via social media is pretty standard. In fact, it's the best and most efficient way out there. Why? Because there is no amount of savvy marketing tricks that can outshine good ol' fashioned word-of-mouth advertising. First, make sure you set up some guidelines to ensure your employees don't inadvertently embarrass the company. Second, considering setting up some type of incentive program for those employees who take the time and effort to post excellent content on behalf of your brewery. Think of it this way, even though the company only has 1k Facebook followers total, "Master Brewer Jesse" and "Stacey in Accounting" have 5k followers each on Instagram! That's an untapped resource just waiting to be discovered!

SET SPECIFIC GOALS

 Is this your target consumer?   Infographic courtesy of SteadyServ

Is this your target consumer? Infographic courtesy of SteadyServ

Not setting trackable goals: It's not just a craft brewery problem, it's a small business problem, too. If you don't go into the online market with a clear mission and branding idea, then you're setting yourself up for disappointment both mentally and financially. Ask yourself, am I entering the social media world to spread brand awareness? Maybe meet some beer distributors? Perhaps drive people to our website? 

If you create a few very specific goals then you can easily track your progress for each one using a variety of analytical tools. If you don't set your goals first, then you're essentially moving in reverse. Take a moment to state some clear objectives and devise a strategy. For example, LinkedIn might be the best route for your company if you're looking for other professionals to join your ranks. Or, if you want to spread your brand name and are a decent photographer, then Instagram is your go-to app.

In conclusion, making a strategy for your craft beer company can be challenging, but very rewarding. Some small businesses think that taking a financial gamble on social media advertising is not worth the risk. Well, we're here to change your mind. The times are changing and traditional marketing just won't cut the mustard anymore. Take your business to the next level and dedicate some time and money toward social media marketing ASAP!

-Chris Parks