Social Media and Beer: 3 Lessons for the Beer Industry

Living in Milwaukee has its perks. One being the beer, they don’t call us brew city for nothing. Recently I attended the PR + Social Media Summit at Marquette University. Naturally one of the sessions revolved around how social media is being used in the craft beer industry.

Like all effective social media campaigns, everything comes back to strategy and authenticity. I think panelist Mike Thiel, marketer for Goose Island hit the nail on the head when he said “For every beer that we’ve sold, we don’t do it through big advertising budgets…Everything we’ve done is through one taste at a time. So the way that we view social media is that is an opportunity to reach every customer, one point at a time and help tell a story.”

With that in mind, below are three authentic social media lessons the beer industry could learn from:

Show Personality
Whether big or small, craft or domestic, local or import – beer companies need to determine what their story is and how they want to tell it. Putting a personality
to a brand is one of the easiest ways to build relationships with customers. Beer companies have an amazing opportunity to profile their brew masters and provide insight into why their employees have a passion for their job. If the story surrounds sustainability or other goodwill initiatives, tell consumers why your company cares about that specific cause by sharing a personal connection story. Whatever the story may be, showing personality develops trust with an audience,
online or off.

Infuse communication with packaging
Often times when we think of social, we assume Facebook, Twitter and email are the only ways we can communicate with our customers. We need to break that mold and think about how we can integrate our offline and online communication. For example, Milwaukee Brewing Co. is integrating QR codes on all of their packaging. Although the fad for QR codes may be dying, I still feel they can add value if used appropriately. I honestly can’t speak to where @MKEbrewco is directing user engagement, but for a company that has branded each product with a unique personality, this is a phenomenal opportunity to continue the story and track analytical data for each product.

A picture is worth a 1000 words
Let’s face it, we are a visual people. When we find something we like, we want to see more of it. Today we are seeing more and more companies including visual components to their social media posts. Our consumers expect us to be at the same level as they are, and with the emergence of tools such as Instagram, they have become amateur photographers. According to panelist Dan Murphy, Milwaukee Magazine Brew City writer, “A few bars around [Milwaukee] have done a nice job with Instagram….They’ll take a picture of a new barrel that comes in and post it. I mean, to the beer geeks, it’s beer porn.” Breweries have the opportunity of providing a “sneak peek” at a new products or packaging before hitting the market as well. Recently Blue Moon Brewing Company gave their Facebook fans the opportunity to help brew the newest seasonal beer: Caramel Apple Spiced Ale.

By the way, if you haven’t heard of Untappd yet – I suggest you check it out if you want to try new beers and bars near you.

Fishers of Men

“What makes a legend? Is it what someone did when they were alive, or how they are remembered after they are gone?”

At times there are movies, television shows and songs that make us stop and think about our lives.  Although we seek this media as a form of entertainment, we sometimes get more than what we expected.  At times we form a bond, an emotional connection we apply to our day to day interactions with one another.  For roughly four years I served the wonderful catholic community of Oshkosh, WI as a volunteer high school youth minister.  This opportunity was one of the most blessing experiences in my life and has helped me perceive things differently.

Tonight I watched the movie “The Guardian.”  Even though I have seen this movie multiple times before, I always seem to have a profound admiration for this story.  I feel this movie speaks to men more so than women, so I apologize ahead of time if you don’t share my sentiment.  I think Jerry Seinfeld puts it best when he jokes about how all men think of themselves as superheroes.  Deep down I feel the male persona wants to be that noble and just figure that protects and serves others.

Now although we can’t be the heroes we are familiar with in comic books, we can be heroes of the Lord.  Much like the motto of the US Coast Guard rescue swimmer, we must serve “so others may live.”  Our duty as men is to be the light, that example of virtue towards others.  We must follow the guidance of our Lord and the leadership of our priests. We are the guardians of our faith, the moral compass for those that are lost. As disciples of Christ, we are all fishers of men.

5 Things Brands Need To Know Now About Facebook Timeline

By now, most social media marketing professionals have heard about Facebook evolving brand pages into the timeline format, but I doubt most brands are actually ready for the forced update happening on March 30. Like most Facebook changes, those who are social media-savvy understand the reason for the changes and can transition their clients without missing a beat. However, companies that wait until others test the water first will suddenly find themselves having to scramble to catch up.

It is crucial that social networks continue to evolve just as everything else around us does, but I worry many brands will not take action until they are forced to do so. So whether you want to connect with your consumers on a deeper level or just don’t want to fall behind, here are 5 things you need to know now about Facebook Timeline for brand pages:

1. It’s a Timeline

Like its name indicates, your brand page will now consist of a running timeline of your company’s existence. Facebook understands that your business has been doing great things even before the social network was created in 2004. You now have the opportunity to tell the full story of your business. Show archived photos, highlight new ownership or even that holiday party everyone is still talking about. This can be the perfect opportunity to educate your fans of your rich company history while also engaging them on your page longer. Companies such as Fanta and Red Bull are already running scavenger hunt contests that encourage users to find clues hidden throughout their brand timeline while Ford Motor Company highlights each breakthrough invention since 1903.

ford-motor-co-facebook-timeline

2. Cover Shot

Companies finally have the opportunity to design their page to be more reflective of their brand. No longer are you confined to the upper left-hand corner to brand your page, instead you get an 851 x 315 pixel “cover shot” at the top of your page (see Coca-Cola below). Although you have the creative freedom when introducing fans to your page, Facebook has set forth strict rules that discourage the following items in your cover shot:

    • Contact information (phone number, website)
    • Call to action (“like us,” “share,” “get it now”)
    • Pricing or purchasing information
    • References to “like us” (including arrows)

coca-cola-facebook-timeline-cover-shot

 3. Content Arrangement

One of the most visual and obvious changes to your page will be the way your content is arranged. Pages will no longer feature the one-column “wall feed” we are used to seeing. Instead we now have two side-by-side columns that provide fans an even easier way to digest content at a single glance. Fans can now see the latest photo album, video posted and what other fans are saying without having to scroll forever, instead this can all be displayed above the fold. One of my favorite new features is the ability to pin posts. Brands can now pin a status to the top of their feed for up to seven days. You no longer have to repost information daily and you don’t have to worry about being bumped down your feed by other users.

4. Apps

Formerly known as “tabs,” will be moved to a horizontal layout just under the cover shot. Only four apps will be featured as your “favorites”, but fans have the opportunity to view a total of twelve apps by clicking the expand button. As an admin of the page though, you can actually create as many apps as you want. This can be beneficial if you want to create private apps for only people with the direct link. All apps can be rearranged, with the exception of “pictures,” to highlight new content or your latest promotion (see Livestrong below). Each custom app page can support the 810 pixel width layout and now features a thumbnail image of 111 x 74 pixels that is displayed on your timeline. The biggest downfall, however, is you can no longer create a custom landing page when non-fans get to view your page for the first time. Facebook is really trying to clean up the gimmicks and create a clean microsite for your business.

livestrong-facebook-timeline-apps

 5. Messaging

Fans can finally send direct messages to your brand page. This is great news, especially for companies that utilize Facebook for customer service purposes. Complaints and unflattering conversations can now be taken offline and dealt with properly without bothering the rest of your fans.

Although there are some significant limitations, the new Facebook timeline for brand pages is a well needed change. Don’t wait until the last minute to make the switch – prepare now and stand out from the rest! March 30 is almost here, will you be ready?