5 free social media marketing ideas for the winner of the Star Tribune’s Beer Bracket–Castle Danger Brewing
A few years ago (I think), the Minneapolis Star Tribune unveiled its first-ever “Beer Bracket” as a way to play off March Madness. Not all that inventive, but fun considering the craft beer boon here in Minnesota the last 5-10 years.
For the last two years, the winner of that Beer Bracket has been Two Harbors’ Castle Danger Brewery.
Now, this brewery has a special place in my heart because it resides on my favorite piece of Minnesota shoreline: The North Shore. What’s more, they make one of my favorite beers: Castle Danger Orange Cream Ale (please start canning this and selling it in stores!). And, their taproom in Two Harbors is fantastic!
Needless to say, I’m a huge fan, and very happy Castle Danger has won this contest two years running.
After the big win this year, I got curious. What’s Castle Danger doing with their social media? After all, they just beat out the likes of giants like Surly, Summit and first-year winner, Schells, for Minnesota supremacy. Surely, their social media strategy must be rock-solid to drum up that kind of support!
And, to a good extent, Castle Danger does do a nice job with its social channels. They share great hero images of their beer. Feature their taproom. And keep fans apprised of new beers via Insta, Twitter and Facebook.
Just one little problem with all of that: it’s almost exactly what every other brewery in the state is doing. I’ve written about the craft beer industry before–six years ago, in fact!. It’s a very copycat industry when it comes to social media–and that’s as true in 2019 as it was in 2013 when I wrote that post.
That said, I thought I’d try to help my friends at Castle Danger out with a few free ideas! I want nothing but good things for my favorite North Shore brewery–so here’s four completely free ideas Castle Danger. Use ’em or not–at the very least I hope they’ll see this post and consider them, because I believe they have a great opportunity to use social a bit differently and really use it to tell their story in a much more powerful way.
1: Stop wasting your valuable time with Twitter
— Castle Danger Brewer (@cdangerbrewer) April 13, 2019
Your last 10 tweets have generated 176 engagements–an average of just 17 engagements per post (for context, they average a whopping 214 engagements per post on Insta!). Given you have 6,387 followers on Twitter, that’s an engagement rate of 0.002 percent. Not great. And, if you’re like most companies, Twitter isn’t driving any kind of meaningful traffic to your site. So, Twitter isn’t driving much in the way of engagement (and Insta is crushing). It’s probably not driving traffic. Yet you’re posting at least once a day here. I suggest you minimize your time on Twitter in a big way–it’s vanity social media at this point. Pour your energy into Instagram and Facebook instead.
2: Focus a significant portion of your social content strategy on the North Shore.
Crafting a North Shore experience. That seems to be your tagline–or at the very least, a brand theme. Yet, you don’t really pay that off in much social content. I’d flip the switch on that. I’d make the North Shore an absolute pillar in your content strategy. In fact, I’d work to absolutely own the North Shore when it comes to beer. I’d feature your beers in well-known and majestic North Shore landscapes (think Gooseberry and Shovel Point). I’d feature your beers and the seasons of the North Shore I’d feature your beers with Lake Superior as a backdrop (like above!). I’d do it all. Now, I know capturing great North Shore visual content will probably be a problem. So, here’s an out-of-the-box idea: Commission one of the great North Shore photographers to do it for you! I’d nominate George Ilstrup! Who better to help you “craft a North Shore experience” than the guy who takes some of the best North Shore photos on Instagram–like this amazing shot from last week’s storm!
3: Rachet back (way back) the frequency on Facebook.
So far in April, you’ve had 20 posts on Facebook–that’s entirely too much! Especially given the fact that I’m guessing you have a fairly lean marketing team and you’re probably not using advertising to amplify posts (call it an educated guess). No, what I’d do is this: Post 8-10 times a month at most. Focus on a mix of North Shore, Pints for a Cause (see below), and promotional (beer-focused) content. Then, use a limited ad budget to amplify those posts to different audiences (existing fans, prospective fans in Minnesota, and email lists you’ve built at events).
4: Use Stories to “cover” your live events.
Trivia. Beer dinners. New beer releases. You feature a ton of events on your site. Why not use Instagram Stories as a tool to “cover” these live events for your fans who might not make it? You could use a mix of formats–video, photos, boomerangs. You could use a variety of stickers, too. Really have fun with it. This would be a great way to bring the Castle Danger brand to life in a new way. And, since most of the live events would take place in your tap room, it would allow you to feature that in a new way, too.
5: Bring Pints for a Cause to life via live video
Love the Pints for a Cause idea–donating $1 of each pint sold in the tap room every Wed. to a non-profit along the North Shore. Fantastic! But, I don’t feel like you’re leveraging this idea, and the potential content that should come with it, via social media. The post below simply isn’t enough (and far too generic).
What I’d do instead is bring this program to life by inviting a member of these non-profits to your taproom the last Wed. of the month. Then, interview them on live video (Facebook and Instagram) and talk about how they’ll use the donations, what their organization is all about, and beer. Just an informal conversation about community and beer. Gives you a chance to highlight these deserving non-profits. And, it gives them a chance to thank you publicly while sipping on an Orange Cream Ale (the best beer in the world–again, please start canning and selling this year-round!).
OK, so that’s it. Those are my ideas–at least to start! If, by some chance, the Castle Danger folks do see this and you’d like to hear more, well, I’d just love to chat. Like I said in the pre-amble, Castle Danger has always been one of my favorite breweries, on my absolute favorite Minnesota coastline.
In case you missed it, KFC launched its own virtual influencer last week–a virtual Colonel Sanders–on Instagram. It’s the brainchild of Weiden + Kennedy and the KFC folks and it seems to have a lot of people talking–including many on Twitter talking about how “hot” the virtual Sanders is!
On one hand, this is a full-blown publicity stunt by KFC (and it seems to be working!).
On the other, this is a bit of a bet on a new, and pretty weird, trend: the introduction of virtual influencers for brands.
Yep, virtual influencers are a thing. To the tune of $125M. That’s how much a company named Brud (yes, Brud) is worth after a recent round of financing. You’ve probably never heard of some of these virtual influencers, but Lil Miquela now has 1.5M followers on Instagram. Apparently, this is a trend worth monitoring!
And, that’s exactly what KFC is doing here–and then some.
This move is very much in line with KFC’s brand personality. Just look at how they position the virtual Sanders on Insta.
This also makes sense since it’s only a limited-time thing. Virtual Sanders will only be on Insta until April 22, so enjoy him while you can! I also love the way KFC is using Virtual Sanders to poke fun at influencer culture. Just check out this post and the “aspirational” tone of the text.
Of course, no influencer would be worth his salt if he didn’t have brand partners. Enter Turbo Tax, Dr. Pepper and Old Spice. Below is one of the posts highlighting the partnership with Turbo Tax (note the #ad disclaimer right at the top–even virtual influencers need to disclose!).
Over the last few days, KFC has had all sorts of fun with this–including using some of the most popular features on Insta Stories.
Promoting another of their brand partners here (Old Spice).
Promoting one of their most recent menus items here.
So far, overall, I think this is very well done by the KFC folks. The bigger, and more important question is this: Are virtual influencers a trend worth taking a peek at on the brand level?
For now, I think my answer would be: “let’s see how this goes.” So, I’m going to be following along with the Colonel closely over the next week. Might be worth it for you to do the same!
By now (especially if you’re a basketball fan), you’ve seen the Dwyane Wade video Budweiser produced.
It has been shared everywhere over the last few days–timing up with Wade’s retirement from the NBA. And, it’s eliciting all the feels from fans and non-fans.
It’s an impressive idea and piece of social content from Budweiser, no doubt. But, the interesting wrinkle here to me is that the entire video has really very little to do with beer or selling beer. In fact, you don’t see a single Bud mention or logo until 3:55 of a 3:58-long video (although, smartly Bud does include a scoreboard graphic in the background of a few shots).
No, this is a decidedly unbranded piece of content.
And sure, it’s been done before. Many times.
But, at the same time, I continue to hear and see people ramming corporate messages into content ideas that simply don’t need it.
There’s a lot to be said for subtlety, folks.
And, telling a story–an emotional story.
That’s exactly what Bud did here. And brilliantly, I might add.
Instead of re-hashing what Bud did with this video, I’d like to talk more about the learnings for other brands–because I think that’s a big piece of this.
I see a few things most of us can take away here:
1: Resist the urge to over-promote
It’s hard. I know. I’ve been there. But, it’s our jobs to push back on our corporate leader partners. It’s our job to say, “maybe we don’t need another corporate message here.” It’s our job to focus on the storytelling, not necessarily always working the brand into every conversation. This is what resisting the urge to over-promote looks like on a daily basis. That’s what Bud did here.
2: Think sponsorship instead of promotion
Every time I see one of these great, emotional, compelling pieces of content, they almost seem like they’re sponsored content. Like someone else created them and the brand just slapped their name on it very subtlely. That’s what the Bud video feels like. It feels like they sponsored someone else’s content vs. creating a PROMOTIONAL piece of content featuring DWade. That’s the difference. And, it has everything to do with how the content is created. If you’re merely sponsoring the content, the editorial team can go to work in creating a story free of corporate interferences. If you’re sponsoring content, there’s probably not that marketer in the room saying we have to work the logo into shoot more. If you’re sponsoring content, you’re free to explore ideas that probably get shot down by corporate leadership far earlier. Think sponsoring vs. promoting. It may change your entire outlook.
3: Sharing is directly tied to emotions
It’s 2019 and yet clients still want content to “go viral.” Amirite? And, you’re right, there’s no magic way to make that happen. But, if you’ll notice, the brand content that actually does get shared–like this Bud video–it almost always tied to emotions. So, isn’t the key to think about the stories and potential stories you could uncover (or create) that tie to emotions like sadness and joy? I know this is kinda stating the obvious, but I also know so many companies HAVE these stories yet fail to tell them in a way that isn’t completely over-promotional? Storytelling is an art form. And, even a great emotional story can get bogged down by corporate messaging. So, get out of the damn way! Let the story stand on its own. If you do it right, it will get those shares. Budweiser knows that. Which is why the DWade video has already been viewed 2.3 million times.
In case you missed it, Accenture made big news last week by acquiring an independent NY-based agency named Droga5. This is big news, of course, because Accenture (and the Big Four in general) seem to be making a big-time play at ad and marketing dollars.
This seems to have been a growing trend for the last few years (PwC and Deloitte have made moves into this space in recent years, too), but may be peaking right now. And, it should probably have many in the ad, marketing and PR agency industry on edge.
It represents a significant risk to the traditional agency offering.
However, I would just the opposite for those of us on the solo side–this is great news!
How could I say that? Let me lay out my reasoning:
First, many solos aren’t competing for Fortune 500 business anyway.
I’m the exeption here. I’ve worked with many Fortune 500 level clients in the last 10 years (insert humble-brag) including Walmart, Walgreens, General Mills, Sleep Number, Ingersoll Rand, Thermo King, Toro and Trane. However, most solos don’t target these big companies. In many cases, they prefer to work with midsized or smaller firms–some target non-profits and startups, too. Not saying the Accentures of the world won’t take on some of this work, but their bread-and-butter is most likely going to be bigger companies.
But, those Fortune 500 companies still have niche needs best served by solos
Accenture may be a great fit for a big company looking for big media buys and break-through creative (I always loved that phrase!), but if you’re looking for a specialization in influencer marketing, for example, a solo may make sense. Or, what about trade media in a specialized industry? A solo would be a better option on many levels. The Big 4 are going to have a huge leg up in many areas over solos. But, solos will still fill holes where the Big 4 are simply going to be too expensive, or may not have the needed experience. Which leads me to…
Finally, solos still the best value in the market
For those mid-sized to larger clients, a solo is still the best bang-for-your-buck in many ways. First, we typically have MUCH more experience than the day-to-day contact and team you’re likely to get on the Big 4 side. I would venture to guess the average age of most solos is north of 35 (probably even 40). Average age of your day-to-day agency contact has to be under 30 (at least in my experience). Second, our rates are most likely going to be lower than the blended rate of a Big 4 consulting firm. After all, we have limited to no overhead! So, by going with a solo, you’re getting more experience at a lesser rate vs. a Big 4 firm? Yep–that’s exactly right.
Yep, I think this news is great for solos like me. Keep making firms and agencies bigger–it’s music to my ears!
For years, the PR industry had an intense love affair with “influencers.”
Or, I should probably use a more accurate term: bloggers.
Go back to the early 2010s and that was the name of the influencer game: Engaging and working with bloggers.
All kinds, really. Mom bloggers ruled the roost. But other types of bloggers also were also regular targets of PR outreach (tech, travel and food to name a few).
This was all working–and it felt natural for many PR folks–because it was (mostly) organic. PR folks were pitching and working with bloggers much like they did media. No money was exchanging hands. They might give out some free product or a unique experience here and there, but for the most part, there was no big dollar signs.
Then, in the mid-2010s everything changed.
Instagram blew up. YouTube became more of an actual channel vs. a place were people dumped useless video content. And, as a result, a whole new slew of influencers started popping up.
And, they were different from the bloggers–they wanted money. They saw what bloggers had done years earlier and they were determined to use their newfound “celebrity” to make much more money.
And, this is where things got weird for the PR industry. They started to resist.
Largely, I believe it’s the “pay for play” concept that turns PR off. For decades, the PR discipline has been based on forging mutually beneficial relationships based on trust–not money. And here comes this new influencer marketing and it’s all about the dollars.
PR wasn’t having it. And, apparently they’re still not having it, according to comments I read in a recent survey from long-time blogger, Frank Strong.
Just take a peek at some of these comments from that survey:
“Influencer marketing is riskier.”
“Influencers aren’t reporters. Most of them expect to be paid by us. There are more of them than there are reporters. And, they’re even less accountable if you’re not paying them.”
“Let’s not Kardashian this, too.”
“While still based on developing relationships, influencer marketing tends to be more transactional in nature.”
“Influencer marketing is paid–influencer communications is organic, and doesn’t actually involve gatekeepers or editors. There’s a need to make the influencer mutually accountable–so the two sides benefit. Influencer marketing is transactional–pay for play.”
What’s most disappointing about the comments above is that they show a lack of understanding about where influencer marketing is headed.
Two of the comments lament that influencer marketing is transactional.
Sure, in many ways it is–right now. But, that’s changing. Smart companies are starting to partner with influencers using long-term contracts. Influencers are starting to become spokespeople. They’re showing up in ads. They’re showing up at employee events.
This is the next evolution of influencer marketing.
And PR seems determined to miss out on it.
PR clearly has a huge opportunity here. Influencer marketing–even if it is a paid relationship–is still rooted in the relationship and content creation, two areas PR people typically excel at.
But the lack of foresight and creativity I see in these comments leave me to believe PR may be missing the boat.