The marketing of alcohol brands has a history of restriction that has required marketers to think creatively. Classic adverts like Guinness’ surfer in 1998 engagingly capture the essence of the product while also abiding by the strict guidelines of their industry. Social media managers for alcohol brands have a similar challenge with their Twitter strategy as the ASA has strict rules regarding the promotion of alcohol brands. But modern marketing tools and techniques can provide a rich experience.
We’ve spoken to professionals working with major alcohol brands to identify key movements happening within the industry that could influence future Twitter strategies by alcohol brands. Whether a prestigious family run champagne house, or a major lager brand with cans on every supermarket shelf, these marketing trends could be the Twitter tactics that signify a vintage year for drinks brands.
Twitter’s recently announced option to publicly show birthdays could possibly help brands target via age, this could potentially be used by alcohol brands to ensure they are only targeting people who can buy their products. Also, with brands often collecting dates of birth alongside emails for competition entries, they have the option to use email integration tools to target groups of Twitter users around their birthday with Promoted Tweets. Chris Smith has worked with major alcohol brands and has identified the importance of age as a key factor looking forward.
“The big development that Twitter could roll-out would be a proper age-gate, that would help alcohol brands use the platform better. For example, making alcohol brand feeds invisible to under 18’s (and making minors invisible to alcohol brands) would remove some of the legal concerns and restraints that currently exist.”
Chris Smith, Shiny Red
Twitter allows brands to incrementally try new things with their brand which may be deemed too risky to do on a wider campaign, or introduce finer details that wouldn’t fit into a 30 second TV spot. The real time feedback provided on Twitter can indicate whether something is a good idea or not. This will allow alcohol brands to push, alter, or remove certain aspects of their social campaign depending on their performance.
“There is a sort of staid approach to cider advertising in terms of apples falling from trees and thing like that. Our [Rekorderlig] brand is more innovative than that. […] Previously, social was a supporting platform rather than a lead one but Rekorderlig is such an incredibly engaging brand online and we wanted to apply this approach to marketing and do something different in content and delivery.”
People are sometimes hesitant to leave their feeds if they’re not familiar with your brand. Brands constantly expecting people to click away to their Instagram feed instead of directly uploading an image to Twitter are set to be increasingly disappointed. With the growing prominence of Twitter Cards and native video providing ample opportunities for ingenious alcohol marketers, brands can avoid taking their audience away from their feed unless they absolutely need to. Modern analytical tools now mean the data you can receive from content in your stream is both open and actionable too.
“We’ve tested and learnt that as a general rule, people expect brands to deliver their message in-feed. That means, short snappy copy and visual content. If, as a brand, you try and take someone off Twitter onto a website or other platform, they are very unlikely to follow you. Twitter is a competitive place, and consumers will only follow links from news and media outlets they know they enjoy and people or experts they trust. Unless your brand has that relationship with its customers, or a really compelling proposition, keep your activity completely Twitter-centric.”
Chris Smith, Shiny Red
With a limited ability to advertise their product, brands can use wider causes or goals. This unites Twitter users with their brand as factor in something larger. Those who participated can then be targeted with follow-up campaigns using Tailored Audience campaigns. This recent example from Kronenbourg featuring Eric Cantona offering to swim the channel has received a much larger response than a standard campaign looking for shares. (You can read more from the team in our exclusive interview here.) There is something binding those people together, they all want to see the final result and understand that they need to get involved in order to see it.
Some brands may struggle to reach the precise audience they want to, especially if they’re a luxury/specialist brand. As a result, the Twitter followers of reputable reviewers, critics, and bloggers can be considered in order to find an advocate whose approval can lead directly to an interested audience. Using tools to find the most influential profiles within certain demographics could help to unlock highly desirable groups of Twitter users.
For example, renowned wine expert Tom Harrow (known as @WineChapUK on Twitter) has spent years building an audience of wine aficionados. This has earned him a prestigious role as an ambassador for Dom Perignon (a role we are very interested in, if there happens to be a space going), who have identified that his following will be one that highly aligns with their target audience.
Tieing the message of the brand in with something that their own target audience created can massively help in driving the brand’s share of the conversation in their market. It also assists in brand building by strengthening relationships with customers, while producing earned media that can reach an impressive audience. Again, this helps alcohol brands to spread awareness of their brand while not directly promoting their product in a way that could fall foul of the regulations of their industry. This is alongside many of the other benefits of using UGC in marketing campaigns.
People love stories, especially if they feel like they are part of them in some way. With many alcohol brands often having charismatic/bold founders, an interesting tale behind their beginnings, or dramatic moments peppered throughout their history, storytelling is (and will continue to be) a key Twitter strategy for alcohol brands in the future.
“We are lucky to draw from incredible brand heritage, with lots of stories hosted on the brand website, so we can link to these on Twitter as well as use our library of historic images to tell our followers about the time before social media! Imagery is key for the instant snapshot storytelling, and a posted link to further content retains people’s interest.”
Well-planned, big campaigns will be the driving force behind a brand’s voice, but the brand can still be given a nuanced personality via micro-conversations with their fans. It will help to build thousands of memorable experience that could be all-important when those people arrive at the bar.
These are some of the ways we can see the alcohol industry Tweeting in the future. Of course, many of these could also be applicable to some other industries, but what social marketing trends do you see as being specifically important to the alcohol industry in the coming years?