Why Smaller Brands Have a Big Advantage in Social Media
Comparing large brands to their smaller counterparts, it’s fascinating to see how different sized companies use social media to build brand awareness and drive customer engagement.
The below is a comparison of three companies, two of which are major American breweries and comprise the best selling beer in the US, and the third is an independent craft brewery based out of Milton, Delaware. We’ll look at how Bud Light, Coors Light , and Dogfish Head Breweryuse social media to build brand equity and engage their customers. There are some pretty neat trends, and a few surprises.
Coors Light Beer is one of the most popular beer brands in North America. Their target demographic, based on their advertising in both Canada and the United States, appears to be college students. One would think that using social media to tap into a market so socially networked would be as obvious a strategy as tapping a keg during Spring Break, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Coors Light on Twitter
Seems the only official Coors Light Twitter presence is for @CoorsLightBC, from British Columbia, Canada. Here’s their first tweet back in October 2009:
Since then, they have garnered 426 followers and have tweeted a whopping 49 times. For a good overview of their Twitter approach, here’s a shot of their Twitter page:
I think the MacGruber reference says it all.
Coors Light (not) on Facebook
Coors Light USA doesn’t show up in a Facebook search (Coors Light Canada does, I’ll reference that further down). There is a community page, but it’s tricky to tell whether that’s affiliated with Coors. Regardless, suffice it to say, they’re not on Facebook. Which is kind of a shocker.
Coors Light in Other Media
Coors Light appears to have invested significantly in producing promotional videos, which are all available to view on their website. And while sharing content, such as video, is technically social media, there isn’t an opportunity to comment on the videos, which creates a very static, and isolated, website presence. If you’re drinking Coors Light, seems you’re drinking alone.
Coors Light – the Canadian Site
Coorslight.ca features an app that lets you identify bars in your area that sell Coors Light “cold beer” locator. And there is a link to a well developed Facebook page with over 100,000 likes, and lots of engagement from Coors Light fans, as well as from the Coors Light Brewing Company. Take a look:
A scroll down the page indicates lots of interaction. And note the reference to the contest from the person who hasn’t won anything since September. Facebook is a great tool to celebrate contest wins, and allow winners to share their excitement. The Coors Light Canada Facebook page uses this to great advantage.
On the other hand, on the Canadian website there’s a “Follow us on Twitter” button as well, but when I click on that, I get a “coming soon” response. At least we know Twitter is in the works, but how hard can it be to Tweet? Given the @CoorsLightBC situation, they might want to get on that.
Bud Light is the number one selling beer in the US. Again, one would think that the Bud Light brand would be heavily involved in social media. Not so much, it seems.
Bud Light on Twitter
While Bud Light doesn’t seem to have a presence on Twitter, @budweiser does. They haven’t provided a picture (yep, still an egg), and the tweet count is the same as @CoorsLightBC, minus 49. Yep, zero. Check it out:
However, there is a lot of Twitter chatter about Bud, like the below example:
But happy comments such as these are met with the egg’s stony, silent stare. It’s kind of creepy.
Bud Light on Facebook
Bud Light has a well developed Facebook page where they offer contests and other promotions. Check it out:
What did seem to jump out was that there was plenty of banter across customers. However, there was little, if any, exchange from the Bud Light brand (as compared to, say, the Canadian Coors Light Facebook page). Maybe it’s their policy to let the fans provide all of the engagement, but I think we all know that the occasional comment from the brand helps fans know that at least they’re listening.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
As mentioned, Dogfish Head is an independent brewery located in Delaware. While I’ve never tried any of the Dogfish Head beers, after taking a look at their social media presence, I want to! They have a wicked social media buzz. Once you consider the below, you may want to join the party too.
Dogfish Head on Twitter
Dogfish uses Twitter extensively. A quick look at their Twitter homepage tells the tale:
Some quick stats from this page: Over 49,000 followers, and note the number of @replies (@replies are responses directly to people who have mentioned Dogfish Ale, or have used Twitter to ask a questions). Their @replies are pretty much their entire Twitter activity. The conversation flows as smoothly as a…well, you probably know where I was going with that.
Take a look at this example of dialog flow:
And here’s the reply, within 2 hours:
A quick count suggests that Dogfish Head tweets anywhere from 25 to 30 times a day. Safe to say, these folks are not only on Twitter, they’ve embraced Twitter as a key tactic to connect with their customers, and build new markets. As well, they use Twitter to cross-promote restaurants that carry their beer. Nice strategy.
Dogfish Head on Facebook
Dogfish Head has a really well developed Facebook page, with over 162,000 likes. There’s ongoing banter, both between fans (and yes, it’s not too much to say these are fans). Check it out here:
And while I’ve selected their Wall to indicate the amount of banter, and likes, the overall layouts of their FaceBook page closely matches their website. Really nicely done, with lot and lots of engagement and exchange.
Dogfish Head on Other Social Media
Yep, they also have a blog (called Blogfish), and a website-specific message board that’s also very active. And, like their corporate counterparts, they have videos, but always informational, and always on the cheap.
Looking at their social media mix, it’s not surprising that the founder of Dogfish Head Brewery was selected this year as one of the “most creative people” ranking by Fast Company Magazine. Here’s what they had to say:
Other honorees include Microsofts Alex Kipman, who led the creation of the motion-capture sensation Kinect for the Xbox; Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood; Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, whose passion for off-kilter concoctions has made the brand a fast-growing business.
The consistent message in all of their social media is that Dogfish Head Beer is over-the-moon passionate about great beer, without being gimmicky. And the thing about passion is that it’s contagious. Just like social media.
It’s fascinating that the larger brands have fallen short on their social media efforts, with inconsistent adoption of Facebook, and no Twitter presence to speak of. It isn’t so surprising, however, when you think about it. Larger brands typically have competing departments that vie for control of social media content, which creates what can be called corporate paralysis – an inability for a corporation to take action – even action it knows it must take. As well, their marketing and PR has been outsourced to advertising agencies that probably benefit more by producing a series of $100,000 videos, rather than creating and engaging on social media for a much smaller fee.
Smaller brands, on the other hand, seem to actually benefit from their modest advertising budget. They aren’t in a position to outsource their PR , so they haven’t handed off their customer engagement strategy to advertising agencies, but rather take on the PR role themselves. As well, unencumbered by internal bureaucracy battling over territory, small companies can just go ahead and talk to their customers. It makes so much sense.
The benefit of social media is that it allows brands and consumers to connect with their shared passion that gave birth to the brand that they love. In this respect, smaller companies have a definite advantage.
If you would like more information about how we can help you leverage the power of social media to really connect with your customers, reach out to us here.