[Q&A] 4 Breweries Share Their Secret Recipes … For Success on Social Media

Fact: breweries rock at social media marketing.

It’s no surprise. When you look at what goes into the perfect beer: creativity, hard work, attention to detail, even a little personality—they’re all the same ingredients that go into a successful social media marketing strategy.

Recently, I reached out to four breweries that are Constant Contact customers and that have seen some impressive success with building communities on social media:

Here’s what these four purveyors of craft beer had to say when I asked them to share their social media insights with you, our readers…

What were you trying to accomplish when you first started using social media to market your business?

Big Sky Brewing Co. uses pictures to give fans an inside look at the goings on at their brewery.

Mary Gormley, Ipswich Ale Brewery: We’ve been on Facebook and Twitter for a number of years, but switched over to our new Facebook Page in 2010. For us, it’s always been about staying connected with our customers: what’s happening around the brewery or events that we’re hosting. It’s also a great way to get customer feedback.

David Graham, Karbach Brewing Company: We’re on Facebook and Twitter. It’s really about keeping in touch with our fans and keeping them updated on our new beers or when we’re launching new cans. It’s also a way for us to portray our brand’s personality.

Alix Dixon, Big Sky Brewing Company: We’ve been using Facebook and Twitter for awhile now. At our brewery, so much is always going on and changing—whether it’s new beers or different concerts that we’re hosting. It lets us and our fans stay on top of everything.

Brian Miller, Bold City Brewery: We’re on Facebook and Twitter. It’s not really about marketing for us—at least we don’t approach it that way. It’s just a way to keep people updated on everything we have going on and to give them a look at who we are.

How were you able to grow your following on Facebook and Twitter?

Ipswich Ale Brewery uses a strong call-to-action in their monthly email newsletter to drive fans and followers to their social networks.

Mary: Having an email newsletter and being able to connect it with both Facebook and Twitter has helped a lot. We grew our Facebook fans pretty much organically but actually had to start from scratch when we switched to our new business Page. We actually sent out our newsletter and told people that if they liked us on Facebook they could have the chance to name one of our tap mobiles. That was a big hit.

David: It’s all happened very organically. It’s been an amazing tool because it actually gives people the chance to opt-in to our marketing, much like with our emails.

Alix: It’s really grown on its own, but we’ve also done a lot more with it over the last few years than we were doing when we first got started.

Jennifer Miller, Bold City Brewery: I think it just grows because of word-of-mouth. We recently reached 5,000  fans and I think that’s partly because Facebook is the biggest social media network and where everyone goes first.

What are some of the differences you’ve seen between Facebook and Twitter?

Mary: We have found that we are able to do a lot more with Facebook. I ask a lot of questions and the kind of response we get on Facebook is hard to get from Twitter. But we always post pictures and share our newsletter on both.

David: Facebook is like a journal and Twitter is more like a conversation. On Twitter, we see a lot of people sharing information about us with their friends through quick messages and interactions; on Facebook we are sharing a lot of photos and updates from around the brewery.

Alix: We share pretty much the same information on Facebook and Twitter—the only difference is that on Twitter, we are able to share updates in real-time.

What type of content typically gets the most engagement?

Mary: We always get a big response when we ask questions or share pictures. Pictures are great for us because they let us bring the brewery to our customers and give them a look at the work we’re doing every day. But we also ask people to send us their pictures, with our beer and the places they enjoy drinking them and feature them on our Facebook Page or in our newsletter.

David: Pictures and videos. People love to get a look at the minutia of daily life inside the brewery. For example, we aren’t able to run the machine we use to can our beer while we’re giving tours in the brewery, but had a lot of people who asked to see it. So we shot a quick video, posted it to Facebook, and had over 100 people Liking or commenting on it within a couple of hours. We also recently started using Instagram when posting pictures and have gotten a lot of feedback.

Alix: We see people get the most excited about the new releases or updates we share from inside the brewery. Pictures are huge too—we post a lot of seasonal posters which always get a lot of people liking or commenting. We also do a lot of online videos which are really popular. That started a few years ago when we would shoot our Brewsletter—which was essentially us talking about everything in our email newsletter and posting it to Facebook or Twitter.

Jennifer: Our photos for sure. We are currently in the middle of a campaign for our Killer Whale Cream Ale—we bring an inflatable killer whale around town and take pictures to post to our Facebook Page at different businesses or with different people we meet.

The “Whale of a Summer” campaign was a huge hit for Bold City Brewery. The killer whale pictures had more than 1,000 combined Likes from fans.

What is your best social media advice for other small businesses?

Mary: Keep your information and content relevant. These are your customers and if it’s something that you think you would like to hear about, chances are they would like to hear about it, too.

David: The most important thing on social media is to really be yourself, don’t try to force it, do it yourself. If it’s not coming from you I don’t think the consumer will have a good feel for your brand. But also remember: not every company should be on every social media channel—it really depends on the type of business you’re running or the type of product you’re selling.

Alix: First, stay on it. It’s not going to happen overnight, but overtime, if you stay on it, you will see results. And always make sure to think about your customers and put yourself in their shoes when thinking about what they will find interesting.

Brian: Our business was built off of word-of-mouth—friends telling friends about us. I think if you’re a good company that focuses on doing business the right way, people will want to talk about you.

Get started brewing your own social media marketing success

For all four breweries, Facebook and Twitter have been tools for staying connected with their customers —not tools for selling to them.

Instead, they are driving engagement with photos, videos, questions, and announcements and are using ideas like: promoting word-of-mouth, showing your personality, starting a conversation, and doing things the “right” way to grow their brands.

What strategies have worked for your business on social media? Tell us in the comments below.

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