Seven Ways to Use Social Media to Reach New Customers: Part I

Link to article patrons at taproom bar
Share Post

Economic headwinds are part of the craft brewing industry’s new normal.

That was part of the message delivered by Bart Watson in his State of the Industry address at the 2023 Craft Brewers Conference® (CBC®). To navigate the new normal, the Brewers Association’s (BA) chief economist urged small and independent producers to find growth by tapping new consumers and new occasions. In two telling presentation slides, Watson highlighted opportunities to connect with the country’s fastest growing demographics of beverage alcohol consumers—women and people of color—and revealed that craft beer is lagging other beverage segments in capturing these new consumers.

alcohol usage chart of women and people of color

Even if you didn’t attend CBC, you likely don’t need to be told that finding opportunities for growth is more important than ever. Members of the Marketing and Communications Subcommittee of the BA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee reflected on how small and independent producers and other craft beer businesses can use one of the most cost-effective tools—social media—to reach new customers.

In Part I of this two-part series, we discuss the importance of using engaging visuals and the event posting capabilities of major social media platforms, as well as supporting your local community. In Part II, we dig into four additional ways that breweries and other businesses can leverage social media to attract and connect with new customers.

Incorporate Engaging Visuals

Humans are an inherently visual species. Our eyes are the primary way that we gather information about the world. With that in mind, is it any surprise that photos and videos are the single best way to communicate with potential customers?

“More important than just having visual content, though, is what is actually being shown,” says Marketing and Communications Subcommittee member Aaron Gore, director of partnerships and community for Arryved. “Remember, customers are looking, more than anything, for cues that show them the sort of environment, occasions, and results they can expect from your business.”

Before visiting a new brewery, potential customers will likely check out your social media first. Your social media feed should reflect how welcoming and fun your space is. That means sharing pictures of full taprooms, with happy patrons and a vibrant energy—let your audience know that they can expect that same positive experience when they show up. Visually show potential customers, including those from groups you have yet to engage with, that your brewery is a welcoming, safe, and supportive environment. Just be certain to obtain permission to use photos of your customers if they are going to be front and center.

screenshot of lost world charlotte social media post

Showing that your space embraces a diverse clientele might appear challenging if you haven’t had a variety of people patronizing your business yet, but the simple answer is that the first step to connecting with new communities is to reach out.

Participate in or host local cultural events. Get out into the communities that you hope to connect with. If you want members of the community to get to know your business well enough to feel comfortable visiting, the onus is on you to build trust and familiarity. Be on the lookout for opportunities to build relationships with communities that you are not currently serving organically.

When creating visuals for social media, use photos and videos to tell the story of what’s in the glass. If there’s unusual or nontraditional ingredients, show them! Make your tasting notes come alive with comparative flavors being shown alongside the beer. Use descriptive words to help your audience taste what’s in the glass, leaving them thirsty for a sip. When describing your beer, it’s important to use words that a novice can understand and add the tasting notes near the beginning of your caption, so the information is easy to find. It’s also important to show the occasion and the vibe you intend it to embody. Most customers see the world in terms of when and where they will be drinking rather than in hop varieties and style guidelines.

Post Your Events

Promoting a brewery event through social media offers many advantages that can boost attendance and engagement. Whether you are hosting a ticketed or non-ticketed event, using event posts on social media is a wonderful way to boost visibility, reach a broader audience, and have the algorithm work for you instead of against you.

Most major social media platforms include special functionality for posting and promoting events that helps streamline the process of promoting and attending brewery gatherings—a win/win for both you and your guests. One convenient feature is the ability for guests to add events directly to their calendar with a simple tap, ensuring that they don’t forget about it.

Posting events on social media also opens the door for additional engagement opportunities with your audiences. By housing a dedicated event chat space, brands interact with event attendees, answer questions, and encourage their audience to share the event with friends. Elevated engagement rates on your business profile feed the social media algorithm, so the more you interact with users, the higher your organic reach goes, resulting in more exposure for your brand to new potential customers.

Support Your Local Community

We now know that increasing engagement rates on social media plays an important role in exposing your brand to new audiences. Another tactic to add to your toolbox would be to bring the concept of friendship offline over to your friendships online. If you want to have friends, be a friend. Or in this case reach out to, connect with, contact, and “befriend” the types of community organizations that you want your business to associate with and then craft programs and messages that add value for all your social media audiences.

Organizations to consider might include:

  • Other businesses: Are you connected with other businesses in the same neighborhood? How can you form a partnership to support each other’s businesses?
  • Local artisans: Can you showcase, sell, or host local artisans and craftspeople, especially those with their own unique followings, and then create content on social media that tags their accounts?
  • Local nonprofit organizations: How can you help local philanthropies raise funds and awareness?

Marketing and Communications Subcommittee member Jeff Pillet-Shore, marketing director for Allagash Brewing Company adds, “Genuine partnership and sharing is key. Simply trying to capitalize on someone else’s following is bound to backfire. Only partner with groups when you can find authentic, credible overlap.”

screenshot of common house ale works social media post

Pillet-Shore adds, “The unique ‘only in your area’ organizations and partnerships—with festivals, local notables, heroes, and more—will help you stand out and engage. When selecting partners, consider if you want to work with organizations whose audience (including social media audiences) mirror or complement and extend your own. These types of partnerships can be an easy way to reach new audiences.” Remember to follow the account of your partners and tag them in your post (both in the image and text). Connecting with these partners gives them a reason to engage with and re-share your content, which increases the chance that their audiences will see your message.

Because Your Business is More than the Liquid.

Get news, resources, tools, and more to help your team THRIVE.