Building communities around a brand has been key in the strategies of a number of brands, with beer clubs like Otherside’s Beer Tycoons or equity and rewards crowdfunding campaigns.
But so many of these communities, both run by breweries and consumer groups, have thrived within social media, a potentially less resource-intensive medium.
Facebook groups like the Perth and Hunter Valley Beer Snobs groups and the Reschs Appreciation Society have been instrumental in developing beer-centric communities, spreading knowledge about beer and beer styles, and even lobbying breweries to change or focus more on a product.
Many breweries also use social media platforms as their primary line of communication with their customers, ahead of their own websites or email databases.
But there are pitfalls to that, as several breweries saw when Facebook shut down news pages on its platform after a feud with the Australian government.
His scorched earth approach has been criticized, but it hasn’t stopped algorithms from closing seemingly random pages ever since, with Boatrocker and Australian Craft Beer Crew consumer group being withdrawn and reinstated thereafter.
It does, however, raise the question of whether companies are putting themselves in an exposed position by relying solely on Facebook platforms.
Dr Adam Brown, senior lecturer in digital media at Deakin University in Melbourne, said Facebook’s deletion of these pages earlier this year had sparked some interesting discussions.
“[Back in February] there was a wide range of organization pages that were deleted, even some mental health activist and support groups lost access. It sounded like randomness, but parameters were put in place that were widely applied in a scorched earth approach and the actors paid a temporary price for it.
“The discussion on this may have been cut short, but the implications will be visible for a while. “
It raises important questions about the central communication strategy of companies.
“[As a business] you can’t afford not to be there and other platforms may soon emerge and organizations have to be there.
“It comes down to the growing feeling that there isn’t this big divide between the online and offline world, even when your community is targeted locally and geographically connected, you can still depend on a virtual connection to communicate with them. . “
But it also calls into question how much companies should trust it.
Social networks and websites: a symbiotic relationship
As social media has grown, businesses have focused their efforts in this direction, and some new breweries are focusing on their Facebook pages before having their own websites.
“Having a Facebook page is pretty basic, I’m not diminishing the fact that you need it, but it won’t be the same as having your own website,” Dr. Brown said.
“One of the main reasons to be on social networks, not just to connect them to you and each other, is to redirect them to an organization, your own website.
“This is where you want to redirect that traffic. “
In terms of building a community, Dr Brown said, apps are now seen as ineffective.
“They are seen as an increasingly less effective way of attracting people,” Dr. Brown said.
“More responsive and interactive websites are being built, which gives you a way to engage your audience within your own website, but again, you always need to get them there in the first place.
“These websites are inspired by the design of social media, people have watched what consumers find so appealing on platforms that they spend three to four hours a day on a certain platform, sharing and viewing content.”
There are also downsides to using social media platforms.
“If you only had one Facebook page, which is incredibly easy to set up, it won’t necessarily be seen to have the same credibility, trustworthiness or legitimacy as your own website.
“Any page or profile on these platforms is pretty much the same, it doesn’t allow you to be so creative with your branding. “
Other social media platforms
While social media is of course here to stay, there may not always be the monopoly Facebook enjoys on its platforms.
“Platforms change over time and new ones appear, less common ones disappear before you even hear about them.”
But while some big new additions like TikTok and SnapChat are being considered in new industries, there are pitfalls, especially in a regulated industry like alcohol.
“Tiktok as a specific example is interesting, when you look at its key demographics, not always in reality but in perception, you look at young miners – so as a brewery you may need to invest in communication. crisis before using TikTok! “
“It is also more difficult to create peer-to-peer communities [on SnapChat, TikTok or even Instagram] but not impossible to get follow-up from an organizational brand. Facebook has that longevity however, everyone has been around for so long, can you afford not to be there.
While a platform like TikTok may not be suitable for alcohol companies that want to be seen as responsible producers in the marketplace, these platforms can teach the industry a thing or two about how to. engage with new customers.
“What TikTok teaches us is that the storytelling is changing, with everything from Instagram reels and stories to YouTube shorts,” Dr. Brown said.
“A lot of people like the convenience of micro-video as a form of media and as a storytelling medium or mechanism, and convenience is central.
“This dynamic audiovisual content, however, raises issues regarding copyright and the way it is created, so organizations need to be more careful than individuals.”
Brewers also put this to good use during the lockdown, Willie the Boatman, for example, went live on Facebook with tours of the brewery, while Mountain Culture posts regular updates from founder DJ McCready on the events. to the brewery and new beers, adding a human face to its marketing.
So we can learn a lot from new platforms about how to interact with new customers, according to Dr. Brown.
“It shows us a lot about storytelling, and organizations need to learn, and some really smart ones already have, that people are staffed and personalized.
“How do you bring people into your organizational identity? It can be easier in a small organization to learn key lessons about why people like to connect with people online and on platforms, and how to translate that into action for a business?
“This is what we are grappling with: how to tell your story in innovative ways.”