Social media and the pub trade – friends or foes?


Social media and drinks brands

Social media and drinks brands go hand in hand. Pubs need to catch up.

Online beer retailer AleByMail.co.uk recently launched social media beer tastings on Twitter. It’s is not a new concept, beer bloggers have been hosting social media events like this for a number of years, and they’re growing in popularity. But this is not music to the ears of traditionalists in the pub trade. Some publican’s have expressed concern that social media events could damage their trade. Is it time they woke to the fact that these are channels that many consumers use?

First let’s explain how a social media tasting works, it’s rather simple.

  1. Gather your beer community
  2. Tell them what beer to buy
  3. Set a date and communicate
  4. Create a hashtag to track the conversation
  5. Go LIVE!

Beavertown’s Smog Rocket was picked for the inaugural social media tasting event. A nice bit of PR for guys at Beavertown it has to be said. If you want to take a look and how it worked check out the handy Storify alesbymail.co.uk created HERE.

According to The Publican’s Morning Advertiser (or more likely results directly taken from the AlesByMail.co.uk press release) the Twitter tasting attracted 1 million impressions across 80,000 accounts. But let’s not get dazzled by the numbers, these figures don’t necessarily mean 80,000 people took part in the tasting. There is not really any standardisation of social media measurement but we would guess this result refers to ‘reach’ rather than participants. Please correct us if we’re wrong!

But what if 80,000 people did attend this social media beer tasting? Does that mean 80,000 people decided not to go to the pub that night? Does it equate to millions of pounds in lost revenue to the local publicans?

Yes it’s true more people are consuming at home but just because you take part in a Twitter tasting does not mean you are only going to consume beer at home in front of your tablet/phone/laptop.

Publican’s need to realistic. Yes times are changing. Yes our consumption habits have evolved but don’t fight the change. Move with the times, embrace technology and what it can do to help boost your revenue.

The beer category is enjoying its moment in the spotlight with everyone from your dad to the local bearded hipster quaffing ale by the bucket load.

Social media is alive with images of pints, cans and bottles of brilliant brews. Surely this is a good thing. Once of the fundamentals to drive people back into pubs is having a good beer offering. Nothing can replace the feeling of having a pint expertly pulled in your local or relaxing in a beer garden, it’s part of our culture.

It’s true that pubs need to move with the times to entice drinkers but there are plenty of success stories out there. We’ve taken a look at a few pubs who are embracing technology and attracting drinkers in their droves.

  1. Scotland’s Pubs & Bars – A Story to Tell. This initiative is a partnership with the Scottish License Trade and VisitScotland.com. It brings to life the story behind many of Scotland’s pubs and aims to entice tourists and new drinkers to Scotland’s pubs. The campaign relies heavily on digital media to communicate its message and is supported by an app which lists all the pubs taking part. A great way to promote pubs. No results to date but a nice initiative which should be able to generate some tangible results (people through the doors!)
  2. Meantime Brewing ‘Hops in a Box’ – this campaign was more to promote the brewery and inform consumers of the ingredients in real beer. However they did distribute their kits via 80 pubs and are being awarded left right and centre by the industry for this campaign. We like it too.
  3. Crowd-sourcing – involve your customers in decision making. This pub in Lincolnshire asked its social media audience to help it design a new burger for the menu. Simple, engaging, communicates the food offering and entices customers into the pub to try.
  4. Host your own tasting – if you don’t want bloggers to take over the world of tastings hosting a specialist event in a pub and getting customers to generate content is a great way to promote your pub offering and differentiate you from the rest. The partnership with The Birmingham Whisky Club and The Church Inn is a prime example of how to do it.

Go forth and get involved, social media isn’t going to go away.  To read some of our case studies on drinks brands and social media click HERE.

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