A recent blog post looked at some of the legal concerns that could hold an alcohol-related business back from using social media. Here’s a follow up with some suggestions on using social media to effectively market your alcohol-related business online. Some of these principles will apply to all businesses, but we’ll start with the ones specific to you. Our first suggestion is that you consult your lawyer and keep the legal guidelines in mind.
Facebook and Google Plus post idea – “What’s your favorite show to watch while drinking a glass of our wine?”
Portray and Promote the Lifestyle, Not Necessarily the Whiskey
Why do people buy your product and serve it to their friends? This will vary from brand to brand, of course! But whatever it is that people are planning to gain when they buy your product – sell that! They could be hoping for:
- Good times with friends
- Exciting parties
- A reward after a long day of work
- An escape from the day-to-day
- A status symbol
- A relaxing evening with someone special
- The perfect gift for a friend with refined tastes
Photos are more likely to get a reaction than plain text (though with Facebook, some are beginning to wonder if this is always the case). While effective for any business, anyone in the food or drink business has a huge advantage. People cannot resist a gorgeous photo of something delicious!
Keeping the above in mind, invest in professional photography. Also, encourage your fans to post their own photos to your wall. Be prepared to moderate all posts for inappropriate content.
Use Contests to Get Your Fans Involved
Consider holding a photo contest (the best photo of a fan enjoying our product responsibly wins a branded shot glass) or a recipe contest (great for seasonal contest). Make sure to use a third-party app provider like ShortStack to keep within guidelines if you choose to run it on Facebook.
Be Yourself – Most of the Time
What is the public’s perception of your brand? Are you fun, outgoing, refined, elegant, exclusive? Then be that on social media. On rare occasions, try breaking out of that mode and see what kind of response you get.
See What Others are Doing
No it’s not copying. Your products and your company are unique, but there are advantages to seeing what other brands are doing and adapting them to fit your company. Brands such as Maker’s Mark and Buffalo Trace Bourbon have very different images, but both have a vibrant Facebook presence.
Social Doesn’t Stand Alone
Use your traditional marketing methods to promote your online presence. Use QR codes to get people to visit a page on your site or blog. Mention your Facebook URL and Twitter handle on all print ads.
Be Committed to Social Media
Unlike Pay-Per-Click advertising, social media is not something you can just try for a few months and see if it works. Make sure you have the resources (in time and people) to do it right before you start.
Know When to Seek Professional Guidance
In-house social media can be incredibly effective, especially when all departments do their share. However, just because an employee uses Facebook doesn’t mean they should be given control of your social presence online! If you don’t have the budget for a full-time social media manager, consider consulting with a professional, especially during the planning phase.
Consider speaking with a professional about:
- Your goals and what strategies will help you reach them
- Creating a social media policy for your employees
- Planning for crisis management
Choose Your Platforms
Don’t feel that you need to be everywhere. (PetFlow has built its business using Facebook exclusively) Do a little research on the demographics for various social media platforms to determine where your audience is. Keep in mind that guidelines for alcohol-related business say you should only be marketing where at least 71.6% of the audience is reasonably expected to be of the legal purchase age.
When it comes to Facebook and Google Plus, post at least once a day. Experiment with up to five times per day and see if your engagement increases (or if you start losing people). For Twitter, it’s difficult to over-post, as so much gets lost in the sea of Tweets. For blogs, the more posts the better!
Consistency goes hand in hand with your commitment. Posting five times a day and then not at all for five days does not work! If you anticipate times when will not have time to update your accounts, sign up with a program like HootSuite, which will allow you to schedule updates ahead of time.
Social media is not a broadcast or sales medium as much as it is a platform for communication. When people reward your efforts by commenting and sharing, ReTweeting or giving you a Plus one, thank them! If people post to your page or send a private message, always respond graciously. Encourage people to talk to you by asking questions and inviting feedback.
Use Social Media to Drive Sales
Yes, I did just say that social media is not the place to sell. However, you can and should use it as a way to encourage people to visit your website or sign up for emails or special offers, where you SHOULD be selling.
Personalize Wherever Possible
When setting up your profiles, pages and accounts, add images where allowed, link to your website, add your phone number, keywords, etc. No one will follow a Twitter account with no profile image. A Facebook Cover image is too important to ignore and Google Plus photos are too prominent to be careless. This might be another good time to consult a professional, even if you intend to manage the day-to-day tasks yourself.
Measure and Adapt
Use Facebook Insights and reporting tools like Raven Tools to measure your progress. Look for individual items that attract attention and keep it up. If a new platform emerges, consider whether it might be beneficial to your business. Use Google Analytics to see where your website visitors are coming from. Is most of your traffic from Facebook? That means either you’ve found your target audience, OR you need to improve your presence on other platforms. You choose where to direct your efforts.
Almost ready to take the plunge? Wondering if you could benefit from some professional assistance? Contact us – we can help!