Kathryn Denton

Craft Beer Social Media Competitive Assessment

In March of 2012 I did a social media competitive assessment for Chapstick vs. Carmex for my Social Media Insights course. In Fall of 2012 I took a course in Social Media Strategies and did a competitive assessment for 3 of the county’s largest craft beer breweries. This analysis compares social media effors of New Belgium, Goose Island, and Sierra Nevada breweries. 

What are their respective business objectives?  Why are they different/similar?

New Belgium Business Objective: Create a strong positive reputation for quality beer that’s eco friendly by creating a community of employees and customers that feel they are a part of the New Belgium brand.

Goose Island Business Objective: To build customer loyalty by letting customers know that our new and unique beers are available wherever they go.

Sierra Nevada Business Objective: To improve customer loyalty by creating a personal connection to the beer that reminds customers to choose Sierra Nevada when possible.

What audiences are they targeting? Why are they different/similar?

New Belgium: New Belgium is basically targeting people from Colorado or that have the Colorado lifestyle. They’re going after people who are young at heart, active, and passionate about beer and the environment; today’s modern hippie.

Goose Island: Goose Island is targeting beer snobs. They want people who are committed to drinking quality beer and trying new things. They don’t want frat boys or bros, (even though they have a location in Wrigleyville); they want people who care about beer to pay attention to them.

Sierra Nevada: Sierra Nevada is similar in their target to Goose Island but is a little more relaxed. They want people who love good beer, but they don’t have to be snobs. They’re targeting people who love to attend festivals and events, especially when there’s beer around.

All three are targeting people who love quality beer. They may be looking for people who like to get out and have fun, but not people who just want to go out and get wasted. Each brewery has it’s own beer style and personality and their targets reflect that.

What tactics/platforms/content are they using? Why are they different/similar?

New Belgium: New Belgium mostly uses Facebook and Twitter. Their Facebook posts are mostly updates of what’s going on in the brewery. Pictures of new equipment, cans of a new beer, events at the brewery, etc. They are light hearted and sort of have a “wish you were here” postcard feel to them. The posts sometimes push the new beers a little hard, but in interesting ways.

New Belgium’s Twitter account is similar to its Facebook. They even ask the same sort of questions like you would if you were trying to get Facebook comments. They also do a lot of Retweeting and responding to fan comments.

New Belgium used YouTube videos sort of like press releases. They introduced new beers, procedures, environmental efforts and events, but then in the last few years they’ve stopped using it very much.

Goose Island: Goose Island makes a lot more “high end” specialty temporary beers than the other two breweries. They use Facebook a lot to promote the beers but make the posts educational. They include videos of the brewing process and pairing suggestions. Goose Island seems to really value their partnerships with other places that sell their beer, promoting their partners on the Facebook page and posting news articles about both their partners and beer news in general. They are much more Chicago-focused in their social media efforts even though they are distributed in other cities.

Goose Island’s YouTube page is JUST about beer. They do a few videos teaching about some of their specialty beers but they are not very entertaining and their channel has no background.

Goose Island interacts much more with partners and even other breweries on Twitter than they do on Facebook. Most of their tweets are replies to comments or are updates about events. None of the brands have a very fancy twitter layout but Goose Island does have wallpaper with these sort of seals of achievements, making the page look almost scholarly.

Sierra Nevada: Sierra Nevada seems to be the one that works hardest for fan engagement. They have real contests (not just asking for likes) asking for help naming their beers, for videos as to why you deserve to attend their beer camp, etc. They show pictures of their beer and events just like the other two, but sometimes they try to start conversations around drinking beer or on subjects that are tangentially related to beer.

Sierra Nevada’s Twitter page is run pretty similar to New Belgium’s. They interact with customers fairly often and tweet updates of what’s going on at the brewery.

Sierra Nevada’s YouTube page has been branded and looks cute. Their videos are all “The Making of Ale X” which were interesting, but they haven’t posted anything in a year and it’s been two years since the majority of their videos were posted.

None of these brands are heavily involved in social media like their domestic beer counterparts. They aren’t using Facebook apps and I doubt they’re buying ads. They sort of treat their social media sits as micro-blogs to share pictures events and new products they’re rolling out. They don’t seem to push upcoming events so much as just share what happened at past events. They all seem to have an attitude of “we know you like drinking our beer, now we just want to keep you updated on what we’re doing with your beer.

What results are they getting?

New Belgium Facebook has 350,988 likes · 24,432 talking about this · 3,315 were here

Goose Island Facebook has 27,612 likes · 1,275 talking about this · 1,142 were here

  1. Goose Island Wrigleyville 4,486 likes · 138 talking about this · 23,048 were here
  2. Goose Island Clybourn 6,341 likes · 470 talking about this · 17,492 were here

Sierra Nevada Facebook has 164,692 likes · 4,755 talking about this · 12,741 were here

New Belgium gets the best engagement because their fans are pretty much nuts about the environment and the initiatives New Belgium participates in. Sierra Nevada has been successful in their business objective, as they have grown to be widely distributed across the country with a strong following. Goose Island seems to be a little too turned inward and so their audience is mostly local.

Which company  is doing it best and why?

None of these breweries are blowing the others out of the water. They’re all similar in size and distribution and the number of beers they produce. Sierra Nevada wins at Facebook because they do more to encourage fans to engage with the brand, but New Belgium is a close second because they post so much about their core beliefs in the environment. Overall I think New Belgium and Sierra Nevada tie but all three could take some lessons from domestic brands.

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