Posted At: October 23, 2013 7:07 p.m.
by Brian C. Hoff
Most Americans know exactly what these two words represent thanks to Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light television and radio marketing campaigns.
What about Yazoo or Druid City? Chances are unless you are from the Southeast region of the United States, you have never heard of either of these microbreweries.
What’s a microbrewery, you ask? According to the Brewers Association, “a microbrewery is a brewery which produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year.” So if you haven’t heard of Yazoo or Druid City brewing companies, it shouldn’t be surprising. These microbreweries are small businesses, local to their respective regions.
Think about Anheuser-Busch. It’s like Starbucks. Both have a strong grasp on their particular industries. A microbrewery is like your local coffee shop. It is a small business owned and operated by someone you’d consider a neighbor.
Why do you choose to drink local coffee over Starbucks’ coffee? It’s not always cheaper or more convenient. Consumers choose to drink local coffee because of the relationship they can develop with the owner and staff.
“We want people to support us because they know who makes the beer, where it comes from, and the whole intention and purpose behind it,” said Neil McCormick, sales and marketing manager for Yazoo Brewing Company in Nashville. “Linus, our owner, delivered every keg of beer for the first two years. Ten years later, people still don’t think ‘Those are Yazoo’s tap handles.’ They think ‘Those are Linus’s tap handles.’”
Implementing social media interaction allows consumers to strengthen relationships with the brewery and to get involved in the process. Yazoo, which began brewing in 2003, uses five Twitter accounts (including one maintained by founder and brewmaster Linus Hall), Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.
“I think people look at different social media platforms for different types of information,” McCormick said. “People look at Instagram because they don’t want to read. They just want to flip through pictures.”
Another key reason Yazoo does so much with social media is to increase transparency.
“We’ve always used social media to leave the door open for people to be able to reach us,” McCormick said. “It’s easier than going to our website to find a phone number or an email address. That’s what we want for our customers.”
Younger microbreweries like Druid City Brewing Company in Tuscaloosa, Ala., which has only been in operation for 18 months, are working solely with Twitter and Facebook.
“We are learning,” said Bo Hicks, co-founder of Druid City, in reference to the brewery’s use of social media.
Druid City was started from two friends thinking it’d simply be fun. Even before the brewery was operating, Elliott Roberts, co-founder, and Hicks created a Twitter account and Facebook page for the company to build buzz.
“We try not to take ourselves too seriously, which is easy when you are as unserious as me or Bo,” said Roberts. “Our Twitter feed is pretty light-hearted and an easy read.”
Roberts noted that Druid City strives to keep Facebook and Twitter separate to ensure that the same message is not being exhausted and to avoid bothering its customers.
Roberts also said that Twitter has allowed Druid City’s light and “goofy” side to shine through.
“We aren’t afraid to throw a pun in there. This is a fun business. Let’s have fun with it,” he explained.
Roberts said that Twitter is a means of engaging Druid City’s customers.
“When someone takes the time to tweet about our beer, I do my best to respond,” Roberts said. “Every time someone raises a pint of our beer in this town, I appreciate the hell out of it.”
Druid City and Yazoo are not the only microbreweries to use social media as more than a free news-blasting service. Good People Brewing Company took the time to direct message me on Twitter when I followed the company’s account.
These are the sort of things that consumers love about small businesses. People love feeling appreciated by other people, especially those whose businesses they patronize. It’s our human nature. What more could a public want than to feel appreciated – besides more beer?
McCormick hit the nail on the head when he said that beer drinkers want transparency. That’s just not something you’ll find with something like Bud Light, unless, of course, you’re referring to its beer.