21 Jan 2010 @ 10:39 PM 

Back – way, way back in internet years – just after last year’s Craft Brewer’s Conference, I wrote a little piece about why and how breweries should be using Twitter. It was originally a bit of a followup from watching the internet panel at the CBC. I wasn’t confident that the panel really convinced people why they should be using social media. In fact, I’m not even sure if left people with a favorable impression. So passionate was I about this, that I got together with a couple of great people to put a panel together for this year’s conference.

I’ve been planning on writing a few columns in support of the panel this spring as I work through collecting my thoughts for later discussion. The first was going to be what I perceive as the effective differences between Facebook and Twitter, built for a craft beer business perspective. That’s still coming, but via the magic of the internet, I was pointed over to a thread on ProBrewer that kind of got me by the short hairs.

Let me see if I can summarize this thread for you:

“What’s this Twitting thing? Is that on the Google? I can’t understand what those kids are saying without my ear horn!”

It makes me want to slap people. There is nothing in this world that pisses me off more than willful ignorance. The idea that you can’t understand something because it’s new is a one-way ticket to stagnation and failure. In the end the real issue is that you’re scared. Grow a pair. It’s a plastic box with electronics in it. We call it a computer. You use several every day, probably even to make beer.

I’m sure that all of the guys that posted to this thread are smart. You have to be smart to brew beer and run a business. You have to know a good deal of chemistry, physics, and biology. You have to have business sense and be at least relatively decent with numbers, you have to be savvy enough with people to know your customers, know what they want, and know how to get them to buy your product. And then you put something out like “I could really give a s#$t if those who read our company tweets consume my beer. If they would take guidance from a simple message from a stranger, they’re idiots.”

Shit, man. You just described marketing. You ever watch a commercial? They’re on the television now. Oh, right- that’s another plastic box with electronics in it. Forget I asked.

Nevermind, the lovely irony of asking “Has everyone willingly given up privacy?” on a public message board using your real name as a username. Liam, buddy: Misdirected ire. You must have been having a bad day that day, eh? I hope I can get up to Yellow Belly the next time I’m in NL to try your beer, regardless of that fact that you’ve completely written me off as a customer. Hey – does that mean I can drink for free?

And I don’t really mean to take the piss out of Liam here, it’s just to easy to troll and be snarky when people give you such opportunities! Moving on:

Allow me to address a few of the points that I’m going to summarize out of this thread (and countless freakin’ others out there):

Social Media is for “young people”

Almost 40% of Facebook users are between ages 36 and 65.

60% of Facebook users are over the age of 25.

Those damn kids. They’re probably planning your 30th high school reunion using the Facebook. Maybe you should get in touch.

Social media is a fad.

Facebook reported hitting 132 million users in December 2009. MySpace reports almost 50 million. Twitter reports 23 million. They’re not all overlapping users, though many are (there’s the followup column I’m writing, see?).

Allow me to translate that into math:

If every drinking-aged adult in the country (~200 million) buys beer (they don’t), and craft beer makes up ~5% of the market share (they do), then more people over the age of 26 use Facebook (79.2 million) than drink craft beer (10 million) by a factor of a whole shitload. Fad. Sheesh.

I don’t have time for social media

I don’t have time to promote my business! I don’t have time to get people interested in my brand! I don’t have time to sell my product! I don’t have time to interact with my customers! Waaah!

Really? You know how long it takes me to send out a tweet? Like 25 seconds. To be fair: I type fast. Let’s say it takes you TWICE as long as me to type – no! Three times as long! Finger-pecker!

Ach! My aged fingers can not stand typing for over a minute! I can’t take 75 seconds out of my incredibly busy day to interact with my customers just once!

If you’re that busy, you’re probably at a point where you could consider hiring someone to help you. If you make the point of hiring somebody who’s not an anti-social curmudgeon, then chances are you could make managing social media part of their job and then you don’t have to worry about understanding anything fancy and new.

Look, there’s only one excuse for this type of response: You don’t get it. And you know what? That’s okay! It’s totally fine to not intuitively understand something the first time you look at it. To assume that it’s stupid because you don’t understand it is folly.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time on social media. Can you? Certainly! It can be borderline addictive. I’ll get into that in my next point.

It’s all anti-social crap for people with ADD!

You’re confusing social media with iPhone owners. (I kid! (Mostly!))

Social media is the opposite of anti-social. C’mon, people. “Social” is in the freakin’ name. Every interaction via any form of social media is essentially a part of a conversation. It’s not an update look-at-my-life-because-I’m-so-freakin’-awesome tool. It’s a human interaction please-talk-to-me tool. It’s not just:

“I had a Brooklyn Backbreaker at Tyler’s Taproom last week and I gotta say: pretty awesome.”

It’s also:

“Oooh, I’ve been wanting to try that one. Is it still on tap?”

People are talking about you. They’re talking about your product and they’re talking about your brewery. They’re talking about them a lot and having meaningful conversations about them. That is exactly why social media can be so addictive – interacting with people is fun. You do it in the bar all the time, right? Oh, right – I know: Only with people you know, or people who have the same interests as you, or maybe just the pretty girls.

Yeah, okay. Just like social media. Look, you don’t have to interact with anybody that you don’t want to. You choose who you follow and the people who follow you are enthusiastic fans of your business and your product. They are your good customers and your best evangelists. Not only do they want to have a conversation with you, they want to have a conversation about you to others. You can’t ask for better marketing than that – don’t you want to be a part of that conversation and have the chance to help guide it?

True story: I have met more new beer people in my area in the past year via Twitter, Facebook, and this blog than the previous 6 years I’ve been living here. And I’m talking great people – awesome people that I like to go hang out with after work and have a beer with, people that I have invited over to my house for dinner and drinks, and people that I hope I will not ever lose touch with because they’re such good people. Wow! Being anti-social is fun!

Social media is not a replacement for human interaction – it’s an augmentation.

It’s not a press release machine – it’s a customer interaction tool.

It’s an easy and effective tool that you can use to share your brand and your story with an eager-and-waiting audience and probably have a lot of fun at the same time. Use it. There is no downside and no reason not to.

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Categories: industry, marketing, media
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 21 Jan 2010 @ 11 30 PM

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 10 Aug 2009 @ 8:28 AM 

For anybody close to the industry, it seems like craft beer is doing great. It is! The craft beer industry has seen amazing, even phenomenal, amounts of growth over the past decade. It is, however, still struggling to reach 10% of the U.S. market. It’s easy to throw percentages around, though. So, instead, let’s use some numbers that are impossible to imagine. There are (using really rough math through all of this) 200 million adults of drinking age in the U.S.. If ALL of them drank beer (which they don’t), 20 million would drink craft beer. 180 million would not. Of course, not all 200 million adults of drinking age drink beer. Let’s say that half do. So we’re down to 10 million (ish) craft beer drinkers. And 190 million (ish) non-craft beer drinkers. Yikes! There’s still a ways to go.

Personally, I think this is great news. It’s gonna be a whole lot of fun getting all those people to drink craft beer.

Unfortunately, young as it is, the craft beer industry can tend to act a lot like a well-established industry. We like to fool ourselves. It has a lot to do with the fact that craft beer’s largest competitors are well-established, and even centuries-old, industries. There’s also the fact that craft beer people tend to spend a lot of time with other craft beer people. We like good beer, so we spend time seeking it out. Spend some time traveling around the country, though. There are pockets where excellent beer selection is readily available, but that 10%/90% divide becomes all too apparent when your travels take you outside of those pockets.

In the meantime, the craft beer industry seems to spends a lot of time making itself more and more inaccessible to the other 90%. High-gravity, extreme beers are great, but they’re not the kind of beer that a novice craft beer drinker will fall all over him/herself to seek out. More often than not, those can be very intimidating. When you’ve been spending $6 on a 30-pack of Busch Light, how likely are you to turn around and spend $15 on one bottle of Oak-Aged Chocolate Bourbon Stout with Cherries and Jalapenos? Those are great for the craft beer elite (send some to me, please), but the other 190 million people out there will be seeking something else before they make those steps.

Cool – this isn’t about a column about not making crazy beers. Make them. I want you to. Hell, I want to make crazy beers, myself.

In fact, the craft beer industry spends a lot of time making those not-crazy beers, but because they’re not crazy, they tend to get glossed over. We don’t know as much about what’s in the beer. Aside from specific hops and grain, “Oak-Aged Chocolate Bourbon Stout with Cherries and Jalapenos” gives me a rather evocative idea about what’s going to be going on inside the bottle. However, the same brewery might make “Spring ESB.” Because I am an enormous beer geek, I know – in a basic sense – what’s in that bottle. But a lot of people don’t and even I’m going to be making a guess based on style guidelines and what I know about the brewery.

This column is about telling me what’s in those beers. Let’s imagine a scenario for 190 million people and what happens when they pick up a craft beer for the first few times:

They take a sip, probably from the bottle. The flavor hits, maybe they get a whiff of aromas. It’s a mouth-filling, wonderful experience. They say the magic phrase, “I didn’t think beer could taste like that!”* They look in wonder at the bottle, remember the name of the beer, and probably the name of the brewery. They might have a few more. Maybe they’re still having a hard time getting over the bitterness, or the alcoholic strength, or the roasty flavors. It’s all so different than the fizzy yellow stuff they had before.

Later on, they try another one. Probably the same brewery, different beer. I mean you have to try something else. This one tastes awful. So bitter and astringent! Or maybe it’s WAY too sweet! Ugh! I thought I liked this stuff! Was it just that one?

Maybe they try another of the same type of beer by a different brewery and – yeesh – this one is incredibly different, too! How can these two beers be the same style?! Where’s the consistency?

To be fair – this is conjecture and hyperbole, but here’s my point:

One of the great things about beer is that two beers of the same style can be so radically different. The craft beer elite – we know this. Most of the people who have come to craft beer so far are huge freakin’ nerds. I know. I am one. They are quirky and odd and smart and crave knowledge in a way that a lot of beer drinkers in the country do not. We want to seek out as much information as we can about our product and we want variety. They want to know that the product has consistency and value.

There’s a reason that McDonald’s is so popular. Consistency and value. Think about it. Those are the people you have to reach to find a significant foothold in the market.

Over and over again at the CBC this year, I heard: Education. It’s the path to customer retention, someone said. It’s how to get women to drink beer, someone else said. It’s how you convert people to drinking craft beer, another person said. Education is key. Hear, freakin’ hear.

I think that craft beer needs a way to help people become beer geeks. I believe the first step is a voluntary labeling standard to tell people what is inside their beer. A lot of breweries already try to do it by putting wordy descriptions on their bottles. “This dark ale has notes of chocolate, coffee, caramel, and strong hints of toast.”** Great start. This kind of stuff is necessary. Wine does it, so we need to as well. But I think we need more. We need to revel in the fact that there is such a wide range of ingredients available to us and help people figure out what they taste like.

A rough first draft:

What makes my Irish Red great.

Some breweries – Rogue comes to mind – already indulge in some aspect of this level of labeling, and it’s fantastic. Once you know what’s in the beer that you like, you can start finding other beers with similar ingredients and trying them – or avoiding them.

It took me years to figure out that I don’t like Anchor Steam because I don’t like Northern Brewer hops. With consistent ingredient labeling I might have found this out earlier, and while Anchor would have lost a couple of purchases off of me for that, I might have realized earlier that it was Anchor Steam that I didn’t like, not Anchor Brewery, and gotten a couple of more while I tried different products.

When a brewery does something like this, they’re showing their customers that they have nothing to hide. No crazy adjuncts – or exactly what those crazy adjuncts are. No secrets. The things on this list are what makes your beer great. I’m not saying to put the full proportions of your grain bill or your hop schedule on there. You’ll note that I very specifically left yeast off the list. Don’t give it all away, but for the love of god, give as much as you can. Help people to enjoy your beer. On any given day I would rather drink a beer that listed, ‘black malt, roasted barley, Carafa, and Biscuit Malt” than “Made with four types of dark grain.”

Why not say what’s inside? Afraid people won’t understand it? They won’t if you don’t let them.

This is not a magic bullet that will make people love and understand beer. There isn’t one. But this is at least a small step in the right direction. Start here. Let people be the beer geeks that they want to be, and grow from there.

* – The very fact that the craft beer industry still goes ga-ga over this phrase is proof that the industry is still very young, small, and has a long way to go.

** – Toast is my favorite descriptor for beer. I think I have a really good palate. I can taste all kinds of things in beer that I can pull out and describe to others in a wide vocabulary, but I have never had anything in a beer that has remotely reminded me of toast. Maybe I eat the wrong kind of toast.

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Categories: industry, marketing, op-ed
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 10 Aug 2009 @ 08 31 AM

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 03 Jul 2009 @ 10:34 AM 

Out trip ended in Boston. I used to live in Boston. In fact, Boston is where I learned to love beer, so a return to Boston is always welcome. It’s a good thing we were there for several days, or I wouldn’t have been able to hit all the places, new and old, that I love.
Rock Bottom: Fresh Beers
Our first stop was the Sunset Grill and Tap (beermapping). The Sunset is my favorite bar in the entire world. Really. For truly. For two years in Boston I lived a block away from this place. When I was unhappy with my roommate situation and didn’t want to be in the house, I spent every night at the Sunset for something like 6 months. My bachelor party was upstairs at their sister bar Big City. I cannot ever express my undying love for this bar. So! I’m not really qualified to give any sort of subjective review of this place. It’s like another home to me. So, I’ll just have to talk about the beer we got while we were there.

On a Tweet tip (whether he knew it or not) from Jason Alstrom, I started off with the Great Divide 15th Anniversary Double IPA. My wife, against her better judgment, I think, had a watermelon beer (can’t remember which one: not BBW, not 21st Amendment – no idea) that smelled exactly like watermelon bubblebum from 8 yards away. I can’t really speak to it. It was stunning. I hope she’ll say more about it in comments. The Great Divide was fantastic. Clearly oak aged in a bourbon barrel, it was smooth and big and hoppy and incredibly well-balanced: my favorite thing in an IPA.

My second beer actually ended up being my wife’s second beer. I tried Dogfish Head’s new release: Sah’tea. Here’s what I’ll say: Like every single one of their offerings, I’m glad I tried it. It was this amazing bouquet of chai spices with a mead-like sweetness, and a combination of big fruity and bready flavors. It is pretty much unlike any other beer I have ever tried. Will I have another one? Unlikely. I’m really not a fan of sweet beers. My wife, on the other hand, has talked about going to buy some bottles to make her friends taste.

I finally finished off with something that pretty much stopped me dead in my tracks for a while. I wish I could tell you what it was (and time my jog my memory) what I can tell you is that it was listed at over 150 IBUs at which point my palate said: Enough is enough! It was ALL astringent hops. It is my only memory of the beer. In fact, the only thing that got me going again was a brief trip over to Deep Ellum.

Deep Ellum (beermapping) didn’t exist when I lived in Boston. Their location was once the diviest bar in the area. I can’t tell you how surprised and happy I was to walk into this place and see it well-designed, homey, and comfortable. On a Thursday night it was packed and we had to stand in back of the people sitting at the bar to get drinks. My only complaint was that if you weren’t sitting on something, there wasn’t really a place to hang out without being in some sort of traffic. It’s a small price to pay for ability to order a Cantillon Iris 2005. I can’t review it. It was lovely and amazing. The very fact that I could order it made me happy beyond belief. I really wish my Belgian bars here in NC could see the kind of rotating stock selection and actual reasonable prices clearly available at Deep Ellum.

The next day brought us to a stop at the Cambridge Brewing Company (beermapping), which has also seen a serious upgrade since I lived in Boston. Will Myers has done absolutely magical things here and while the tap list wasn’t 19-long like it was during the Craft Beer Conference, it was still impressive, with a stunning array of Brett fermented and experimental brews. We met friends for dinner. The service was a little slow, but we took it for being a busy Friday night. My wife enjoyed the Arquebus which was nothing short of phenomenal. Here’s the description from their website:

Our 2009 release is at once light and drinkable yet it boasts significant body, and it is almost syrupy smooth in texture without being cloying. Arquebus’ deep golden mien contains beautiful, complex notes of peach and apricot fruit, wildflower honey, toast and coconut oakiness, and soft, tannin-hinted, white grape notes. Malolactic fermentation in the barrel adds a hint of acidity to balance the sweetness of this beer’s finish.

Seriously wonderful, and shockingly clean for a still beer. I had a Reckoning, which didn’t turn out to be nearly as sour as I had expected it, though still dry and refreshing. The aroma far overpowered the flavor, which I felt was brief. I followed this up with an Imperial Skibsøl paired with my chipotle/steak dinner. Phe-freakin’-nomenal. I’ve had two smoked beers at CBC this year and both of them have been stunningly well-balanced. I cannot recommend this beer enough, especially paired with food – the smoke in my chipotle intermingled with the smoke in the beer was nothing short of magical.

Day 3 in Boston brought us to Rock Bottom: Boston (across the street from where we saw Blue Man Group) and Boston Beer Works, Canal Street (which was right down the street from our hotel).

Confession: I’ve never been very impressed with the Rock Bottom location in downtown Boston, and part of that may be a little colored by the fact that I had downright poor experiences with it prior to it ever becoming a Rock Bottom, back when it was the disaster that was Brew Moon’s downtown location. I will admit to being pleasantly surprised. We just grabbed a sampler and left, but the atmosphere was much better than I remember, the service was quick and friendly, and the beers were much better than I remember. Certainly, I had to make it through a sample portion of Lumpy Dog Light which is mediocre at best, but their IPA was downright pleasant, and the wife and I had a great time hanging out before heading over to Boston Beer Works for dinner.

Now, I have always had a good relationship with Boston Beer Works, based solely on their location outside of Fenway. When the Canal Street location opened, I spent some time heading up there because of the pool tables they have (had? I didn’t check.) upstairs. We stopped in for dinner on the way to a friend’s house for a party. I’m always amused when waitstaff feels the need to tell me what beers on their menu are like in terms of other beers: “This is a light lager, which is going to be kind of like a Budweiser, and this is our stout. It’s sort of like a Guinness.” Girl. Don’t sell the beer short. We ended up with what she referred to as, “The two most unique beers on the menu.” My wife ordered a Cherry Bomb, which was (I believe) a farmhouse-style ale – maybe a saison – fermented with tart cherries. It was lovely. Crisp and not at all cloying. I had the Yawkey Way Wheat which the waitress described as a “salt beer.”

“They put salt in it?”

“Ohhh yeah.”

“How much salt?” I asked her.

“A lot.”

In the past, Yawkey Way Wheat has been a Berliner Weisse and it took until I got home and thought about it to realize that the brewer had actually just changed it up a little and made a Gose. It’s a shame the waitress didn’t sell it to me like that. Regardless, it was wonderful. The salt was present, but not overpowering, and the beer was crisp, and tart, and really wonderful. I would drink it again in a heartbeat. If you’re in the Boston area, go find this before it’s gone. It’s not often you’re going to find a Gose on tap in the States.

As ridiculous as it sounds, I feel like we didn’t have enough to time to hit nearly everything that I wanted to in Boston, and I will admit this is far more than I got out to during the CBC. I don’t think that, unless you’re living there, there’s really a good way to experience the beer culture that is in and around Boston. Hands down, fantastic beer city.

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Categories: brewpub, new beer, travel
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 03 Jul 2009 @ 10 34 AM

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Wow. So, predictably, we’ve started to see some backlash from the I Am a Craft Brewer video (embedded here, in case you missed it). There was a little right after it came out, but for the most part there was a lot of fawning. As it has been pointed out, the video has “gone viral” (though I’m not sure that a constant push into the memestream can be considered “gone”) so it is now subject to John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. It’s started off fairly low and, in some places, almost polite, but for a real view of what you can expect in a few weeks, go take a look through some of the Beer Wars comment threads (though it looks like a lot of the REALLY negative comments were deleted).

Myself? I love it (especially the snappy 3-minutes version). But then, I’m its target audience; I was present when it was played as a toast at the beginning of Greg Koch’s keynote. However, there are some fair points being made that bear inspection. Here’s a short sum, and my comments.

  • This video is missing its audience. Or rather, it hit its audience, mostly dead on, and then, for better or for worse, got pushed outside of its audience. It was made for an audience with knowledge of the subject and the industry politics. I recognized most of the people in the video on sight. Even most of your knowledgeable craft beer geeks will watch half of this video going, “Who the hell is that chick? Check out that dude’s beard! Do they make beer in that van?” One of the things I learned in my years of theater is that if you’re too self-referential in your scripts you turn people off because they just don’t get it. (Example? Saturday Night Live.) It’s possible that this video is a little too self-referential for the general public audience. I’m not sure that it is, but I have a hard time telling. Regardless, some people are going to see it and like it and some people aren’t. Even across the CBC when it was first shown there were probably a solid bunch of people who were underwhelmed. My main reaction to this is: meh – big deal. You can’t make all of the people happy all of the time, you can just wish that the unhappy people weren’t so goddamned noisy.
  • Greg Koch is getting a lot of face time. Yep. Like one of the blogs I linked to up there, prior to the CBC and this video what I knew about Greg Koch is that Stone makes beer I like to drink (and that I love his taste in plaid jackets). Now he feels like a minor celebrity. Bad? Not really, except that, by nature, celebrity breeds criticism. Part of me wonders how much of this is by design or by mistake. Greg was the keynote speaker of the Craft Brewers Conference. Presumably, it’s because Stone is a rising star and an innovator and was asked to do it. He’s a creative dude with a history in entertainment in L.A. and had an idea for a video. He followed through with it. He’s also pretty plugged into the internet, pushed his ideas out through his intertube hole and thus you get instant internet celebrity (just add troll). I think the new cut of the IAACB video is a lot better precisely because it has a lot less Greg Koch in it. It’s not that I don’t like him, but it seems a little less about him and a little more about the community, that way. On the other hand, you also have to figure that 99% of the country has no idea who the hell Greg Koch is. If the video did get played during the Superbowl most people would just think he was some random actor, anyway.
  • Craft beer is being passed off as a snobby drink. Sure works for wine, though, doesn’t it? Oh yeah, and a lot of liquor. Why shouldn’t beer be on a level playing field? Is craft beer the Apple of the beer world? I don’t think so. For one thing, market share isn’t even comparable and I don’t have an beerPod. It’s more like the linux of the beer world. But I can sure see how someone could get the impression that it’s the hoity-toity beer. We (beer geeks and/or brewers) come off as a little snotty sometimes, and maybe we should work on that. At the same time, nobody’s going to be an evangelist for our products for us. I see no good reason to stop preaching. If we make a product that we think it superior why would we characterize it as anything but that?

Arguments it being over-produced and/or poorly written are kinda moot. There’s no way to satisfy that. So.. what.. it should look shitty to have cachet? If it had a really awful script it would be more awesome somehow? There’s no argument to this.

The only thing that really bothers me about all of this chatter is how much is being taken out of context and re-hashed for the sake of argument and criticism, either out of the video or out of GK’s keynote. Come on, guys. Anybody can pull quotes out of a long text and find something about it to argue. Walk through a city sometime, I’ll give you 10 minutes before you run into some crazy dude on a street corner that gives you a pamphlet telling you that you’re going to go to hell for something that you enjoy based on one random quote they pulled out of some random religious text. 10 minutes of solid research and you can completely deconstruct their argument. Let’s not play that game. Constructive criticism offers both pros and cons and includes suggestions on how the subject could be improved. Anybody can be an asshat. I do it every day.

On the other hand (this is like my FAVORITE phrase, lately), a lot of people think this is a good little movie: If you REALLY think it sucks, then by all means: How can it be improved? Is the message wrong? What’s the right message? Is it too long? Too short? Too shiny? No story? Are your dreams of what craft breweries are like shattered knowing that they own bottling lines?

It’s not like I can do anything about it, but I’d love to hear how it could be better rather than just hear about why it sucks.

 29 Apr 2009 @ 12:21 PM 

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking in the wake of the Craft Brewers Conference and the “Beer on the Web” panel. It was good, but I almost felt like there wasn’t enough time to cover things in any sort of detail.
Tweet!
I talked to a bunch of people after the panel and there was a really wide array of comfort levels with technology. Some people in the industry are super savvy and comfortable with technology some really have no idea what we’re talking about, much less how to use it well. Today’s post is a service to the latter group. If you know a brewer(y), please pass this on:

What is Twitter?

Think of it as a micro-blog. It’s basically like what you’re seeing here, except in 140 character snippets. Everything you post on Twitter is available to anybody to read, unless you send a direct message – those are private. You can read more here before you sign up.

Why you should use Twitter

1. It’s your target demographic. Here are some interesting statistics about Twitter (collected by Nielsen Online):

  • 85% of Twitter users are over the age of 21.
  • Twitter’s largest user demographic is aged 35-49 (41.7% of traffic). This happens to line up almost exactly with the largest craft beer drinking demographic.

2. It reaches an enormous audience very quickly. Let’s pretend you’re just getting started and you have 200 people following your Twitter feed. You post something of interest, and half of those people decide to re-Tweet your post when they read it (this is when people re-post what you’ve posted, noting a re-Tweet by including the letters ‘RT’ at the beginning of the post), and let’s pretend that those people each have 100 people following them. You have, in about 35 seconds of work, reached 10,000 people with your message. Those numbers are small, too. To give you some comparison, at the time of this writing Dogfish Head’s Twitter feed had just under 4,000 followers, Rogue and Harpoon had about 1,700 each. Beer Advocate’s Twitter feed (and they do a lot of re-tweeting) reaches just under 5,000 people. Twitter is the fastest growing social network; it saw 7 million visitors in February 2009. These numbers all have the potential to grow and grow BIG.

3. It’s fast and free. Signing up for a Twitter feed takes about 30 seconds. Posting to Twitter takes about 30 seconds. You could probably do at some point to take 10 or 15 minutes to brand it with your design and color scheme. If you don’t have a marketing department that can wing this off for you in a heartbeat, drop me a line. I’ll do it for free. Seriously.

How to Post to Twitter

This is not a “where do I type” tutorial. This is “what do I share?” One of the questions in the “Beer on the Web” panel was something along the lines of: There’s not much happens that’s very interesting – half the time all I’m doing is doing yeast cell counts or cleaning tanks. So what do I post?

Well, posting that you’re doing yeast cell counts or cleaning tanks isn’t a bad start. In fact, it’s a great start.

Here’s the thing: You’re running a brewery or a brewpub. You’re not just selling beer. You’re selling you. You, the people who make your beer, who deliver your beer, who answer the phones, everyone, are all wrapped up in the personal brand that you’re projecting out to the consumer. Consumers can say, as often as they’d like, that who makes the beer doesn’t matter, it’s about how the beer tastes, but they’re not being honest with themselves. People love having personal connections with the products they consume and you can do this in a way that large corporations and megabreweries cannot.

You’re running a small business. Your brand is you.

Twitter, because of its brevity and its informality, allows you to give people an inside view of you and your brewery. It’s like being on a brewery tour every day. Let me show you a couple of great posts that have popped up in my Twitter feed over the past day.

The Twitter

See what’s going on here? You’ve got notification of promotions and events, you’ve got notification of new brews, and you’ve got a peek inside the life of a brewer. It shows a little process without giving anything away. Information is great, it will sell your product, you just need to put it out there because people are looking for it. Let them find it. They want to be a fan of you and your brewery!

Recommendations

1. Use it regularly. Like any presence on the web, having something stagnate is much worse than having nothing there at all. It’s amazing how many breweries out there have Twitter feeds with nothing on them – some of them even have a ton of followers and no content. It’s a huge waste of opportunity.

2. Pace yourself. You don’t have to post every 20 minutes. You can probably get by with just posting once a day, but really – if you’ve got a piece of information, put it out there. On the other hand, if you’re posting every single thing that comes up, you’re just creating spam. I have stopped following people because they tweet too much, other people will to.

3. Don’t go crazy re-tweeting. Pick and choose. Yes, when you re-tweet is encourages others to re-tweet, but it also, as I said before, creates spam if you do it a lot. Never, ever, re-tweet just to find something to tweet.

4. Get TweetDeck. It is a really easy way to get a handle on Twitter – it’s especially powerful as it allows you to create search queries, the example you see below is a column that I created on a search for “Duck Rabbit.” Note that I’m looking for a product name, not a twitter handle.

Duck Rabbit on the Tweets

I cannot say enough how much of an advantage I think it is for your brewery to use Twitter effectively and efficiently, the return on investment in incalculable. Use it. You’ll thank me.

Tags Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Categories: blog, brewery, industry, marketing, media
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 29 Apr 2009 @ 12 21 PM

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