What Beer Drinkers Can Teach You About Social Media Engagement

What Beer Drinkers Can Teach You About Social Media Engagement
Mark Davidson

Like a lot of start-ups, SaveOnBrew.Com didn’t have a huge bank account waiting to be tapped that would drive traffic to our doorstep. When we first conceived of SaveOnBrew – the world’s only beer price search engine – we knew we had a winning idea. But like a lot of good ideas, if nobody knows about it, who cares?Our “a-ha!” moment came when we noticed that our friends asked us where the best beer deals were. We would comb through the ads of the local retailers, find the best deals, and spread the word. We wondered why there wasn’t a beer price search engine. Off went the light bulb and SaveOnBrew was born.

Here we are, two years later: 25,000 Facebook followers, 12,000 Twitter followers, 150,000 monthly page views, and we just posted our 30 millionth beer deal. We’re on target for a million unique visitors and three million page views per year starting sometime in early 2014.

Social media has played an incredibly important role in the success of SaveOnBrew. Over the years, we’ve used (and continue to use) Twitter, Squidoo, Pinterest, and StumbleUpon as well as other social sites. Our best return on investment (for both capital and sweat equity) has been in Facebook.

When we first set up the SaveOnBrew Facebook page, we were concerned with growing the page rapidly and at any cost to establish “social proof” – the idea that because a lot of people like a Facebook page, you should like it too. This is an approach we’d recommend for businesses just starting out. If you can’t attract five hundred or a thousand fans very quickly, there are quite a few services you can engage to help you do that. If you don’t do this, you risk your brand dying on the vine.But there is a definite downside to adding fans that are just numbers and not real fans of your brand. The best Facebook pages have fans that engage with the brand’s page. The fans added to get us through the “social proof” phase really didn’t care about SaveOnBrew. We have since made efforts to remove the fans we gained during this effort, culling the herd of the non-fans to make our Facebook page stats stand the scrutiny of close examination.

One more thing on social proof — you can spot the pages that rely solely on paid-for fans. They’re the ones with thousands of fans, but no shared pages, no likes, and no comments. If you cannot or will not engage your fans, you might as well not set up a Facebook page.

Once you’re committed to building a page where fans of your brand interact, you need a strategy to grow the page. There are all sorts of studies on what to post, when to post, what to say, and how to say it. We read all of that and found what works best for us and believe that there’s more than one way to build an engaging Facebook page.

A lot of people drink beer. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and growing by leaps and bounds. It’s hard to narrow down SaveOnBrew’s audience. It’s not just 21–24 year old college guys. It’s basically everybody who’s over twenty-one. It was easy, though, to put up content geared towards 21–24 year old males. Racy jokes. Funny pictures. Scantily clad women. A racy, funny, scantily clad woman was the trifecta. In the end, this approach was a mistake.

We were alienating more people than we were enticing. Sure, we received interaction with the college males, but the other 97% of our demographic was turned off by the content. One of the tools Facebook offers is that not only can you see your page likes increase, but you can also see the number of people that un-like your page (but not why they unlike your page).

Our content was actually causing us to lose fans.

We decided to adjust our strategy and keep the content strictly about beer. Lo and behold, our page interactions steadily increased. More and more people participated, commented, and shared our content. As more and more people commented, more and more liked the page.

The key, then, is to post frequent updates to the Facebook page (almost always pictures). We do it twice per day, five to seven days per week. Posts should be on topic (beer), not overly commercial (we might mention SaveOnBrew once or twice a week) and should be accessible to the vast majority of our demographic. We respond to comments and frequently give away beer-related swag.

Through trial and error, we’ve discovered what works for us. Come up with a strategy, execute on the strategy, look at your results and change if needed. It takes work, but the payoff gets us more visitors to our web site and more visitors mean more income.

Don’t forget to Like SaveOnBrew on Facebook!

Mark Davidson is one of the founders of SaveOnBrew.Com, the world’s only beer price search engine. He lives in Houston, Texas where he also holds down a full-time IT job, manages a full-time screenwriting career, runs SaveOnBrew, and makes time for a wife, daughter, and dog.