Social Media Overview of Coors Light, Budlight, and Dogfish Head Brewery:

 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

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:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/CoorslightBC/status/5259693394″]

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 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

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:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/LBxRAIDER/status/75105417541320705″]

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:

[blackbirdpie url=!/BMOREBrian/status/73938066552791040]

And here’s the reply, within 2 hours:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/dogfishbeer/status/73974361723387904″]

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.

Key Take-aways

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.

Next Steps

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.


Social Media Strategies of H&M, Zara, and Esprit – Analysis


How H&M, Zara, and Esprit Use Social Media for Customer Care

In Search of a Buzz (Social Media buzz, that is)

If you’ve been reading my previous blog entries, you’ll be familiar with the varying approaches different organizations take to handling customer inquiries via social media – in particular Twitter.   After reviewing thousands of tweet exchanges between brands and customers, I think a new performance indicator for brand engagement may be emerging – Social Media Buzz.

Social media buzz can be loosely defined as a spontaneous back-and-forth between customer and brand.  Initiated by the customer, these exchanges are expressions of joy over the great experience the brand is creating.  The expressions can be in the form of the overt “you guys rock” variety, or they can be inquiries from an enthusiastic fan, such as “when will X be available in my area?”   The responses are also characterized by a thank you, and perhaps a follow up to keep the exchange going.

They’re unique because, with rare exceptions, they can only happen in social media, since social media is a relatively painless way for a customer to reach a brand (compared to the effort involved in placing a call, waiting on hold, navigating the IVR, etc.).  Sure people call a brand to provide praise, but as any customer service rep will tell you, a customer calling to say “I love you” is a rare occurrence indeed.

As well, these are most likely to happen in Twitter, because Twitter encourages random communication, as opposed to communication within a more narrow context of commenting on existing content (which would be Facebook, or a blog).

As we analyse the Twitter customer care strategy of more top apparel brands including H&M, Zara, and Esprit, let’s keep the additional key performance indicator of social media buzz in mind.  What you’ll notice is that some brands have it, and some don’t.

First, let’s start at base camp, which is Zappos.  Here’s an example of the buzz that I’m talking about:

[blackbirdpie url=!/mewmewlee/status/69783004993687552]

[blackbirdpie url=!/Zappos_Service/status/69786936159645696]

 Now let’s take a look at how some other brands handle customer care on Twitter.


H&M has a variety of Twitter handles which are country specific (@HmUSA, @HmCanada, for example), as well as simply H&M.  While they have an online presence, they don’t have online shopping.  So, other than PR like this:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/hm/status/62886771192639488″]

H&M seems to field a lot of questions about when United States online shopping will be live, like this:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/leahx09/status/61957609858662401″]

[blackbirdpie url=!/hm/status/62890655487229952]

Not really “buzzy.”  But take a look at the following.  I’d say that as far as customer engagement is concerned, @HmUSA at least is certainly in the game.

[blackbirdpie url=!/hmusa/status/63588350229102592]

Notice how @HmUSA leverages that buzz by “re-tweeting” the original comment, rather than simply replying to it (like, Delta, or Zappos, for example).  That way it’s really easy for customers to see the positive feedback on Twitter.  What’s more, to further capitalize on this, if you click on their Twitter link from the H&M website, you’ll be greeted with tweets and tweets of happy positive energy.  It’s a pretty impressive view, and certainly creates a sense that something pretty awesome is happening.  

I noticed, though, that there wasn’t any negative feedback.  I took a look at replies from H&M that didn’t include Re-tweets.  They told a different, and predictable, story:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/hmusa/status/63314776226398208″]

Here’s what it’s in response to:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/Chrisse_Ingrid/status/63293529878822912″]

So @HmUSA rewards positive comments with a re-tweet.  Negative feedback warrants only a response.   While some would say this is savvy policy, others might say it’s inauthentic.  Regardless of the debate, re-tweeting positive comments certainly something to consider when crafting your brands’ Twitter strategy.  Speaking of customer care, H&M’s Twitter team doesn’t do that.  Here’s the evidence:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/hmusa/status/59353361400602624″]

From the brand’s silo mindset, the people who handle Twitter for H&M are PR, so they don’t handle customer complaints.  To them the “not my department” mindset makes sense.   The problem with that is customers don’t think in terms of silos, they think in terms of one brand, one voice.   To a customer, the overarching message is that while H&M wants you to follow them, and read their tweets, and appreciates your positive feedback,  they don’t want to help you if your experience goes off the rails.  It’s no stretch to suggest that in an increasingly customer-centric market, this is an unfortunate and outdated strategy.  The risk is that customers will first “unfollow” on Twitter, and then completely disengage from the brand.  Case in point, Amanda no longer follows @HmUSA.  I wonder if she still shops there.


Zara is really fascinating because there is certainly a huge amount of buzz about the brand on Twitter.  Here’s an example:

[blackbirdpie url=!/lylemcadam/statuses/70078885370408960]

The interesting thing is that there is no engagement from the brand back to their fans.  If this tweet was about Zappos, there would have been a reply from Zappos within minutes.  But from Zara, the sound of crickets is nearly deafening.   There is an option to tweet a product one is looking at from their online store.  Other than that, though, you would think Zara didn’t know Twitter existed.  Good thing the majority of tweets are positive.  One can only imagine that if Zara chose to give a little love back to their customers, the Zara brand would enjoy considerable growth.


Esprit also has no presence on Twitter.  At first I thought @Espritgirls might be them, but I was mistaken (@Espritgirls is a very different vertical, or, um, shall I say “horizontal.”  If you look up @Esprit_girls, you’ll see why.).   This is also an excellent example of why it’s important to stake your Twitter territory as soon as you can.

What’s also interesting about Esprit is that they do have an e-commerce site, despite not having a Twitter presence.  If you have a question, you still have to pick up the phone and call them.

That’s kind of too bad, because they don’t have any way of addressing comments like this one:

[blackbirdpie url=!/nandoism/status/62587439981662208]

If you click on the link, you’ll see how this social media savvy cusomer is using Foursquare to name the specific store where he had a negative customer experience.  Ouch.

What is different between Zara and Esprit is that no one seems to be even talking about Esprit.  Perhaps there is a relationship between that and the fact that, according to a recent Milward Brown Optimor report, Esprit’s brand value declined a pretty incredible 28% (Zara showed an increase of 4% , so more or less flat.  And Zappos, well, nearly a billion dollars for an online shoe store).

Overall Learning

The overall learning from this is that effective participation with a customer base on Twitter can increase brand engagement, and it stands to reason that it increases the brand’s overall value.  Brands that choose not to engage their customers on Twitter, and in social media in general, miss a gift-wrapped opportunity to leverage customer engagement to drive sales.  H&M clearly engages customers well, although there is room for improvement by providing some genuine customer care.  Zara and Esprit have either chosen not to listen to customers on social media, or just aren’t there yet.  While Zara is an omipresent brick-and-mortar brand, one can only imagine the potential of harnessing their existing online buzz by actually participating in the exchange.  And for Esprit, which for a long time has languished as a marginal brand in North America, and is in decline globally, one wonders if social media engagement could be the shot in the arm this brand needs to build some upward momentum.

Thank you as always for reading.  Comments and questions are always welcome.  And if you want information about how our organization can help leverage social media to drive customer engagement with your brand, let’s connect.