By Caitlin Brennan

November 15th, 2016

After nearly 6,000 years of frothy refreshment, it may be surprising to find out that beer remains on the forefront of marketing and advertising on social media. Many industries have recently trended toward extreme specialization and taking advantage of different price sensitivities, but microbreweries have been at it since the 1980s. Today’s successful craft brewers must navigate a crowded market using all the tools available to capture the consumer’s interest.

Between 2001 and today, the craft drinking demographic has shifted from wealthy, educated, white males to a more diverse young crowd. Most of the 75 million millennials in the United States are now old enough to drink. According to the Brewers Association, which provides a comprehensive analysis of the craft beer industry in America, there are over 4,000 breweries in the United States, of which the craft sector accounts for 21%. Nearly 75% of adults of drinking age live within 10 miles of a craft brewery.

How to hop ahead in the beer market:
There are more than nine million posts on Instagram with the #craftbeer hashtag. One way all businesses can differentiate themselves from the competition is to capitalize on what makes you unique. What’s the voice or brand persona of your company? (Check out this article if you need some help finding your voice).

Colorado-based New Belgium Brewery has built a brand around an outdoorsy image. Their Tour de Fat events celebrate biking, as does its flagship Fat Tire Amber Ale. It should be no surprise that the New Belgium Instagram page differentiates itself from the competition by showing the brand as part of an active, outdoorsy lifestyle.

 

ALERT: It’s Fat Tire Friday and you are mere moments away from the weekend. R-E-J-O-I-C-E

A photo posted by New Belgium Brewing (@newbelgium) on

Every brand operating in more than one social channel needs to pay attention to its brand persona. Clear guidelines articulated to all involved cuts down on poor decisions and encourages pour decisions.

New York’s Brooklyn Brewery has a voice drawn from the the historic and diverse land of its namesake. Founded in 1987 by neighbors Steve Hindy and Tom Potter sought to bottle Brooklyn, which has “long been the home of immigrants, movers, artists, creative geniuses and small business idols. Over the years plenty of trades and traditions have come and gone, but one has been constant: beer.” Here’s how the Brooklyn Brewery channels the history and vibe of their beloved borough.

Channeling the artistic and irreverent.

Hosting free shows.

And of course, staying current.

Look out for Johnny Law
Any brewer will tell you that their industry is one of the most highly regulated. Federal and state agencies monitor every drop and authorities have the power to issue heavy fines or revoke licenses. Aside from tax, public health, and labeling rules, brewers’ advertising and social media use is regulated. At the federal level, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau regulations are extensive and can be complicated.

California’s Stone Brewing requires visitors enter their age as over 21 before proceeding to the website:

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Your industry may not be subject to quite so much regulation, but many businesses have to follow specific rules. There are rules about claims brands can make and mandatory disclosures that may be mandatory to display.

Let your fans brew their own content
On Veteran’s Day, Cooperstown, New York’s Brewery Ommegang incentivized fans to send photos of themselves serving their country. The result is an engaging Facebook post that offers a positive portrayal of the brand while creating a lasting impression on participants.

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Alcohol advertising on social media may be niche and heavily regulated, but user generated content is as big a surefire winner as in any other industry. It’s a win-win for brands and consumers. Brands demonstrate they’re listening to customers and appreciate their contributions. Fans have a chance to be social media stars.

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