Showcase your Brand on Social Media

In business and marketing, we throw around words and phrases like…brand, branding, ‘build your brand online’, use social media to ‘build brand awareness’, and ‘manage your brand.’ In fact, a company’s brand is one of the first things I talk about with potential clients. And, many small businesses have a hard time talking about what their brand is. Not that they don’t have one, but rather because they’ve been too busy building and running business to sit down and define it. So, if that is you too, you are not alone! Branding your business and understanding what all that goes into defining and building a brand, plus finding the time to do it, can be tough. But, it can be done, and here’s a little more information to help you get started!

So, what is a brand exactly? Your brand is how people see and perceive you and your company. Your brand is what you are known for in people’s minds.

A brand is made up of many things. I like to put them in two categories: your visual brand and your brand association, or what people associate with your brand. These two categories make up your brand identity. And, whether you have been intentional or not about defining your brand identity, you have one!

Your visual brand is made up of things like your business name, logo, your company colors, the fonts you use, the look and feel of your marketing materials – be it online visuals, in-store posters, visual signage, look and feel of your physical space, product packaging, branded merchandise, images you use online and in other materials.

Your brand association is made up of anything about you and your business that a customer or potential customer, employee, and/or member of the community may experience associated with your brand. This can be how you and your employees communicate with them, customer service practices and what they communicate, how you and your employees dress, act, behave, operational and employment practices, the messaging and language you use in person and online, interactions with your company in the community or other places – where they see you participating in events, where you are advertising/marketing your business, what others say about you on Yelp or other forums, your product pricing (price perception), etc.

Showcase your brand online by building it and continually strengthening it!

There are so many things you can do to build and strengthen your brand. There is no ‘one’ way to do this in any area but rather some general guidelines you will want to follow online so that people perceive your business in the way you want to be thought of. Keep in mind though, what you portray online is an extension of what you want to portray ‘in real life.’

  • Be intentional and define your brand. Before you can build or strengthen your brand online, you must take some time to determine what it is currently and what you want it to be. To determine this, here are some questions you will want to ask yourself about your company.
    • What do you want to be known for? What do you bring to the table that your competitors do not? What are your values? What needs are you fulfilling in the marketplace? What is your mission? What is your vision? How do you want to portray that? Do you currently portray that on and offline? Do you need a little repair work? What is your brand promise (or what do you promise to deliver every time)? By answering these questions and being intentionally, you can begin to showcase your brand online.
  • Put your best foot forward. Make a great first impression! You get one chance to make a great first impression. Your website, blog and social media profiles are the first thing people go to in order to ‘check your company out.’ You have a maximum of about 10 seconds to catch their eye, make an impression, and put out there whether you are trustworthy or not. Because of that, you must invest in your online presence. Make it professional, well put-together, and descriptive. Don’t risk losing people before they have the chance to get to know you and what you/your company offer.
  • Be a problem solver. There is no better way to build your brand online than to consistently put content out there on social media and your blog that helps your target market solve the problems they face. Being helpful and relevant is the name of the game. Whether you are creating your own content and sharing it or curating others’ content, helping people live better, easier, with less stress, more productively, more inspired, more fulfilled, however you want to think about it, is the best way to brand yourself online. Be a problem solver, and you will be well on your way to online branding success.
  • Be consistent. Consistency is always key. Being consistent helps people trust you by continually interacting with your brand similarly all the time. Being inconsistent can create confusion and turn people off. If your customers/online community can’t rely on you to deliver online, they will get the impression that they can’t in real life as well.

Your brand is your most valuable asset. Big and well-known brands have spent a lot of time and money to build up (and protect) their brands. Think Target, think Nike, think Apple!

Have you given much thought to what your brand is? Have you been intentional about defining what your brand is? Once you define your brand, you can be more intentional about showcasing your brand online, and everywhere else!

Should you Blog for your Business?

 

“Do I have to blog for my business? If I have social-media accounts, is that enough, or do I have to blog too?”

I get this question from businesses a lot. My answer: Well, No, you don’t HAVE to blog, but, I strongly encourage you to blog for your business, and let me tell you why it’s important.

With all the various social-media platforms out there right at our fingertips, it’s easy to want to skip out on blogging. Believe me, at times, I would rather do a 140-character tweet/message than write up a longer, blog post as well. However, the power of content is huge, and blogging provides you and your readers a lot of benefits.

A blog gives you the opportunity to have a longer-format platform where you can put out content that helps your readers, and, in turn, helps you create a connection, builds credibility and trust, drives traffic to your website, and, hopefully in the end, builds loyal customers and drives sales. Below I’ve highlighted all the benefits in more detail, which I hope will convince you to take up blogging and set time aside for it, or help you rejuvenate your blog, if you’ve already started one!

Blogging…

  • Establishes you as the expert. Your content will help show your skills, expertise, and experience. It will help build your credibility and establish you as an expert. Potential customers, peers, and industry leaders will see what you’re all about before they even interact with you, and what better way to show them what you’ve got!
  • Builds trust. In addition to building credibility, your blog and your blog content also builds trust with them. There’s a comfort in knowing that you have what it takes to get the job done. Plus, through your content, you can show your readers who you are – what you value, how you operate, what is important to you, and what they can expect when working with you, and/or what they can expect from your products.
  • Drives traffic to your website. Your blog gives you the opportunity to create relevant content for your customers. Use that content as a way to market yourself and keep your readers coming back for more. If you blog consistently, your blog is always changing, unlike your website. What better way to get people coming back? Once at your website, they will have the opportunity to view your offerings/products, what you’re all about, and hopefully if you have it set up, ways to take action to further connect (e.g. Sign up for our website! Follow us on social media!, Download our eBook, Menu, etc.).
  • Increases SEO, which drives traffic to your website. Blogging and promoting your blog posts on social media increases Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Fresh content and social shares of your content are key to indexing your website and blog in search results and helping new people find you through Google and other search engines.
    • When blogging, use keywords in your articles that are related to your content, your industry, and your business, and those keywords (or phrases) that are most likely to be searched for online. If you are writing specifically about your products and/or industry, this should come naturally but it is good to be intentional about what they are and review your blog posts to ensure you’ve included them.
  • Starts two-way conversation where you can connect with your readers and get feedback. Getting the conversation going and interacting with your readers via the comments on your blog is where the rubber hits the road. This is where the real benefit from blogging (and social media) comes in for your business. People want to connect with you and your business.
    • In your posts, encourage people to comment by sharing their thoughts on the topic you wrote about, ask them a question to respond to in the comments, and/or ask them for feedback on your topic/initiative/new product, etc. If you do this though, ensure that you are responding back to them in the comments to make it interactive.
  • Perfects your skills. Blogging helps you perfect your writing and presentation skills. Writing blog posts can help you get your thoughts together on a topic, help you better explain something to a client or prospective customer, help you better present on a topic, and hones your writing skills. As a business owner/person, who doesn’t need continually improvement and practice in all those areas? I know, I do!
  • Provides you with content to re-purpose for other mediums. Ever have a presentation or talk you need to give and dread pulling together the content? Ever put off posting on social media because you don’t know what to post? Go to your blog content. If you are blogging frequently about the things you’re passionate about and are relevant to your customers, peers, industry, you can re-purpose your blog content for all types of social media, marketing, sales and presentation content for your business.
  • And, last, but MOST IMPORTANTLY: [Blogging] Helps your readers/customers. Keep in mind when blogging, your blog content is not about you. It’s about helping and serving your readers/customers. Each article should be a topic that will help your readers live a better life in some way. Your blog posts should be useful by providing training, advice, or encouragement to your readers. Your blog readers should have a takeaway from each blog post – something they’ve learned, something to ponder, something to take action on, or something that inspires them to make a change. If you keep this as your goal for your blog and for each post, it becomes easier to knock out blog posts!

So, have I convinced you? Or, re-assured you of the importance of that time you are spending writing your blog posts? I hope so. As you can see, blogging for business is so beneficial for so many reasons. If you struggle with coming up with content for blog posts or need help setting up your business blog, feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help you!

Cheers! Now, go write your first/next blog post!;)

Kimberly

Breweries/Brewpubs: How to Use Instagram to Connect with Craft Beer Lovers

If you have yet to check out using Instagram for your business, you are missing out on connecting with thousands of craft-beer lovers! With the increase in beertography, or some call it brewtography, craft beer lovers are using Instagram more and more to share their beer adventures and show off what great craft beer they are drinking. With a quick search of the #CraftBeer hashtag on Instagram, there are over 2.4 million posts using that hashtag alone.

What is Instagram? Instagram is a free mobile photo-sharing social-media platform with more than 90 million monthly active users. Instagram allows users to post images to Instagram, but also simultaneously post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media sites, making Instagram a one-stop shop. Additionally, Instagram has made it easy for the novice photographer to filter and edit their photos with their unique filters and now most recently with its new gamut of advanced photo-editing features.

So, how do you leverage Instagram for your Brewery/Brewpub? Here are my top 5 ways to get started and get connecting with craft-beer lovers!

Sign up for Instagram, and set up your profile. First thing is first, you’ve got to get started. To do this, download the free Instagram application on your iPhone (Apple Store) or Android (Play Store). Then, open the application and register using an email and password or with your Facebook account. Once you’ve registered, immediately set up your profile by clicking Edit Your Profile. Fill in your name, username, website and bio, and click done/save. Then, upload a photo for your profile image by clicking on the circle to set a profile image.

A few things to keep in mind when setting up your profile:

  • Make your business’s bio descriptive – Include a one-line description of your brewery/brewpub and include the address of your physical location, if you have one.
  • Always link to your website, and
  • Have a photo that is descriptive of your business (i.e. either your logo or a photo of you or your brewery/brewpub team).

For more information on how to get started or how to use Instagram, check out their FAQs.

Start posting photos. Get started posting photos right away. Photos are a great way to bring your brand to life and put a face(s) with your business. On Instagram, you can either take photos on your phone and pull them into Instagram or you can take a photo within the Instagram application. Either way you do it, consider the three elements that positively impact an image’s performance – background space, color and texture!

Images with more background space perform better, images with blue as the dominant color and images with more texture perform better.

Also, here is a quick list of types of photos you should post to get started.

  • Show products in context. – Craft beer lovers drinking your beer, customers hanging at your brewpub.
  • Show how you make your products. – The brewing process, preparation of your menu items.
  • Post photos of ‘behind the scenes.’ – Show the brewing team in action, post images of filming an interview or being interviewed by a journalist/blogger, preparing to send kegs off for distribution, or preparing for a party. People want to see what they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to.
  • Show what your products can do. – Invite user-generated content of people enjoying your beers, people enjoying your beers out on the hiking trail/in their lives.
  • Sneak Peeks – Do you have an upcoming beer release? Are you hosting an upcoming event? Releasing a new menu or menu item soon? Share photos to peek people’s interest.
  • Introduce your employees. Introduce your followers to your employees. Help people get to know who they will see when they come into your pub. Have employees answer fun facts and post those in the captions.
  • Introduce your customers. Pick a customer to feature on a regular basis. Take a photo of your customer and ask them to answer a few questions about themselves and their experience with your product(s), which you can feature in the caption. Be sure to always ask their permission and tag them in the post.
  • Going somewhere? – Heading to a beer fest, going to an association meeting, heading on vacation? Show your followers the journey and fun things you’re experiencing along the way by posting photos.

Use the filters and photo-editing. With Instagram, photo editing becomes super simple. Instagram has filters that can dress up your images instantly. And now, Instagram has advanced photo-editing features that allow you to bump up the contrast, brightness, sharpen the photo, put a vignette on your photos, etc. You will want to use these to make your images perform as best they can. Keep in mind the three elements that affect the images’ performance – background space, color, and texture. Some of which can be enhanced in post-editing.

Also, there are other apps you’ll want to check out to help you post amazing Instagram photos like: Aviary, Instasize.

Leverage captions and hashtags. Instagram allows users to put captions on posts as well as add up to 30 hashtags. You’ll want to leverage this to help others find your photos in the search functions. Make captions relevant to the image and further describe what is happening in the image or what lead you to take and post the photo. Caption size should be kept short and sweet and to the point. Keep in mind, total caption and comments cannot exceed 2,200 characters.

What is a hashtag exactly? A hashtag is a searchable keyword (or metatag or tag) or group of words preceded by a pound sign (#) that makes your post findable, making the word(s) a searchable link. For more info on hashtags, here’s a great beginner’s guide to hashtags.

There are many relevant craft-beer hashtags including: #craftbeer #beer #craftbeerculture #craftbeerlife #breweries #craftbeerlove #beerfriends #beertravel #craftbeerporn #craftbeernotcrapbeer #craftbeerjunkie #craftbeerlover #craftbeergeek #brewlife #beerlover #beerlife #brewer #brewerylife #craftbeerdrinker #brewpub

Depending on the topic of your post, you will want to vary your hashtags and add tags that are relevant to each post. To do this, think about what keywords someone would potentially search for on Google or other search engine. These are the keywords you will want to first search for on Instagram to see what their popularity is, and then include if popular and/or you want to associate your post with it.

Engage with other Instagrammers, otherwise known as igers. To do this, follow others that post about craft beer, like and comment on others’ posts about craft beer and other topics that are relevant to your business, you and/or your values. Also, when others follow you or like your posts, reciprocate the love and do the same for them. Lastly, if others comment on your posts, be sure to respond by commenting back with a thank you, answering their question, and/or another way to acknowledge their comment while showing your appreciation.

Along these same lines, you will want to start to connect with #CraftBeer Instagrammers or Influencers. You would do this in the same way as I mentioned previously, but I would suggest finding them on Instagram and extending your outreach and connecting with them on their other social-media platforms including their blogs. Show them the love by connecting, commenting and engaging with them in all ways possible! Eventually, if they are responding in favor, you can reach out to them directly to encourage them to review your products, take a brewery tour, etc.

Instagram is a great social-media tool for breweries, brewpubs, restaurants, and many types of businesses. A picture is worth 1,000 words, and craft-beer lovers are using and leveraging Instagram to share their love of craft beer and connect with others, and you should be too.

If you have questions about Instagram or need help getting started, please contact me. I would happy to help you and your business.

Cheers!

Kimberly

Breweries/Brewpubs: Ideas for Social Media Posts

It’s business as usual at your pub today, and you feel at a loss for what to tweet and/or post on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and/or your blog. So, what do you post on your social media to keep it fresh and your fans engaged?

Finding ideas for posting content are not as out of reach as you may think. You don’t need newness to happen in order to have something to tweet or post about.

Here’s a list of post ideas to get your social media jump started on those days that you feel you have nothing. Keep in mind…depending on the social-media platform, some of these ideas work better than others. Regardless, this list is starting point, and you must experiment. The idea though is to keep the momentum going and to post frequently and consistently!

Post/Post about:

  • Local events
  • National/Local/Craft Beer/Food Holidays
  • Quotes – Beer, Drinking, Inspiration, Adventure, etc.
  • Re-tweets/Re-grams/Re-posts
  • Respond/Interact to/with others about their posts
  • Tips for home brewers
  • Craft Beer 101 – Education
  • How to effectively taste beer
  • Beer & Food Pairings
  • Behind-The-Scenes activities
  • Images of Beer/Food
  • News in Beer
  • Photos of Customers
  • Re-Purpose Content/Blog Posts
  • New taps
  • Your taplist
  • Beer-Glassware Education
  • Craft-Beer-Style Education
  • News Events – Local, Industry, Food, Beer, Sports
  • Life Events – Share appropriate, personal stuff
  • A series or create a hashtag series
  • Day-in-the-Life at your brewery/pub
  • Your Weirdness/Quirks about you and/or your staff
  • Questions you may have of your followers/customers.
  • Challenges – Pose a challenge to your fans/followers
  • Chats – #BeerChat, #FoodieChat, #ExpediaChat, #HikeChat
  • Customer Service Events
  • Inspiration for others
  • Recipes
  • Things you value as a business/as a person
  • Customers/Feature a customer profile, regularly
  • Employees
  • Opinions about craft beer industry news/local news
  • Upcoming pub events
  • Where people can find your beer
  • Menu Changes
  • Happy-Hour Specials
  • Shout Outs to people – influencers, customers/brand ambassadors
  • A guest blogger’s post
  • An interview with beer industry people or customers
  • What’s happening right now at the pub?
  • Reviews or media mentions you’ve received
  • The ‘whys’ behind the beers you have/feature
  • Tap Takeovers
  • Your brewer(s)

There are a ton more ideas for social-media posts. If there are others that you’ve had success with and want to share, please do so in the comments. If you have questions about how to make any of these ideas come alive on your blog or other social-media networks, let me know! I would be happy to help!

Cheers! Kimberly

 

 

 

Top Social Media To-Dos for Breweries

“What are the top things we need to be doing social-media wise?”

I got this question the other day from a brewery owner, and we talked a bit about what he could do to enhance his social-media efforts. However, we just had a minute of time to chat and the conversation wasn’t as thorough as it needed to be to get him really going and building traction. It got me thinking though that probably a lot of brewery owners/brewers, those who run the business, brew, do the financials, staffing, distributing, marketing, etc., are probably asking themselves. If that is you, here is my list of the top things you should be doing social-media wise to build awareness, enhance your online presence, and inspire customers and future customers to drink your beer and come into your taproom!

1. Be there!

Find the social network where beer consumers are and where beer influencers are. Generally, the ones you want to participate in are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Untappd and other beer-related networks and social applications. It is difficult to be everywhere though so if you have limited time and human resources, pick a few (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and focus on them. It’s better to participate and be consistent than to be everywhere.

And, when I say participate, I mean be on the network and post, listen, engage with others, be social, and be consistent. A post every now and then is not going to build a following, nor encourage others to drink your beer or come into your pub.

Post frequently! Comment frequently! Be social!

2. Be authentic and transparent.

Share you! When you participate, people want to know ‘who’ you are. Who the people of the brewery/brewpub are, what the brewery is all about, and what you value. If you lead with your values, that is a best way to connect with those who value the same things. Share your passions. Share your personality! Be engaging, inspiring, funny, sarcastic, and opinionated! Show your real self…good things, bad things, ugly things. Share your likes, dislikes, opinions, your hopes, fears, things about your personal life in which others can make a connection. Your real self is authentic, not always perfect. Share who you are by telling your community that it is YOU and then run your social networks yourself.

If that is not you, you may what to delegate your social media management to someone who you trust and will share his/her personality. If you do, make sure you’re both on the same page with messaging (i.e. what to share and what not to), tone of voice, and expectations of frequency of posting, engaging, etc.

Now, that’s the authentic part. As for being transparent, what I covered above covers it too. However, be as transparent as you feel comfortable. Being authentic does not mean spilling everything about you and your business. It doesn’t mean sharing things that may damage your reputation. Sharing things that help people understand you as a person, what you value, what your idiosyncrasies are, and using your ‘voice’ to share them is transparency! Admitting when things didn’t go as planned, but what you are trying to do to improve is transparency. Sharing your hopes and dreams and fears and excitement about what you are doing and what’s happening in the craft-beer industry and your local area is transparency! Those are just a few ways to be transparent. Transparency is different for everyone.

3. Know the rules/etiquette.

Every social-media platform has its own set of rules and etiquette. The sure way to know them is to be curious, participate, ‘listen,’ and do a little research.

There are some that are universal however and most are about showing the love to others! Know how to use hashtags. Know what types of posts that work best on the social-media platform youre posting on (i.e. 140 or less on Twitter). Show love by commenting, mentioning and re-posting others’ content. Don’t use marketing/sales speak. Don’t abandon ship. And, don’t post under the influence! Remember your brand/reputation!

4. Use a variety of media.

People love photos and videos, in addition to your words. It makes it more personal, and people love seeing and hearing from you and putting a face with your business. Find a unique way to use a variety of media throughout the week.

Look at the #ALSIceBucketChallenge! Look at the Baby Got Class and the Xmas Jammies videos by the Holderness Family. Now, I’m not saying you have to get one million views to be successful, but if you achieved that, now would that be so bad?! I don’t think so!

5. Connect with influencers and brand advocates (if you don’t already). 

Beer bloggers, beer writers, Twitter influencers are the influencers. Your brand advocates are those people who know and love your brand already, are highly satisfied customers, and are willing to recommend you/your brand/products to others. Find and connect with both groups of people and interact with them. These people are those that can help you spread the good word about your beer and can help stick up for you, if the going ever gets tough!

The last To-Do is something you should consider doing both offline and online. It isn’t a MUST social-media wise. However, building a community around you and your brand is a terrific way to build brand advocates and keep people coming back for more.

6. Build community.

Create a place where people want to hang out! This should occur in-real-life (in your physical space) and online. It’s a cross-over marketing tactic to gain loyal customers and is much more time-consuming, but is the ultimate way to build brand ambassadors.

A community, no matter online and/or physical, shares common values, goals, resources, needs, and risks. Building a community starts with finding a common thread and creating a ‘place’ where members can have common experiences and makes it possible to rely on each other for support. You will want to make it welcoming, comfortable. You will want to have things for people to do there to keep them there. Make those things something in which people are interested in (a.k.a.: common interests) and where they can get information/resources to help each other with something they need. Make those things something where people can share, get to know others, and interact with each other.

Breaking it down a bit, here are three key things to do in building a community.

Create a collective experience. This can be done with in-person events and gathering together for a collective reason at your taproom/pub. Perhaps this is a taproom meet-up of some sorts? These events should be repetitive so that members can relive the experiences over the years. In-person events are a great way to create a collective experience. But online experiences can also produce this sense of community. And, even more powerful is, if you can create an in-person and online community! Creating an online community where members can then interact, talk with each other, share experiences, and support each other outside of your physical space, can really scale as well!

Celebrate milestones. Celebrating milestones and achievements as a community reinforces the feeling of community. When your brewery has achieved a milestone (i.e. winning an award at GABF, getting a great review, selling a certain amount of beer, reaching a certain amount of followers/members), post about those achievements as milestones and make them the community’s achievements (i.e. Look what ‘we’ accomplished! We couldn’t have done without all of you!). By celebrating accomplishments as a community, members are engaged and feel a part of something bigger than simply drinking your beer!

Encourage collaboration. Get brand advocates/your community members to work together on a project, allowing them to work toward something collectively and celebrating when they accomplish the goals. This a great way to cement a community bond! This could take the form of a contest asking followers/fans to design a label for a new beer you will be canning soon or asking followers/fans to come up with ideas for a name of a new beer you are brewing. In running contests such as this, you could feature all designs/ideas collectively and have the members vote on the favorites and then choose from the top three favorites! This creates a ‘to-do’ and puts it in the hands of the community, making them feel engaged and a part of your brand/company/community. Those two ideas are only just a few ways to get your community to work on something together. There are many other ways to create collaboration.

A great example of a community is that of Lady Gaga’s. No matter what you think of her and her music, she has built an empire by creating a community of Little Monsters, who are devote fans!

 If you focus on top FIVE things, that will be a lot right there, but you will see success! Keep #6 in mind and work toward it. Building a community is the end game, the ultimate goal! However, participating and being consistent on social media is the start! If you need help thinking through these more, I would be happy to help you!

Cheers!!

Kimberly