Social Media Overview of Coors Light, Budlight, and Dogfish Head Brewery

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Why Smaller Brands Have a Big Advantage in Social Media

 

Comparing large brands to their smaller counterparts, it’s fascinating to see how different sized companies use social media to build brand awareness and drive customer engagement.

The below is a comparison of three companies, two of which are major American breweries and comprise the best selling beer in the US, and the third is an independent craft brewery based out of Milton, Delaware.   We’ll look at how Bud Light, Coors Light , and Dogfish Head Breweryuse social media to build brand equity and engage their customers.   There are some pretty neat trends, and a few surprises.

Coors Light

Coors Light Beer is one of the most popular beer brands in North America.  Their target demographic, based on their advertising in both Canada and the United States, appears to be college students.  One would think that using social media to tap into a market so socially networked would be as obvious a strategy as tapping a keg during Spring Break, but that’s not necessarily the case.

Coors Light on Twitter

Seems the only official Coors Light Twitter presence is for @CoorsLightBC, from British Columbia, Canada.  Here’s their first tweet back in October 2009:

Coors Light BC is now on Twitter! This is your home base for the most up to date Coors Light Information, Check here for Event info and more

@CoorslightBC

Coors Light

Since then, they have garnered 426 followers and have tweeted a whopping 49 times.   For a good overview of their Twitter approach, here’s a shot of their Twitter page:

I think the MacGruber reference says it all.

Coors Light (not) on Facebook

Coors Light USA doesn’t show up in a Facebook search (Coors Light Canada does, I’ll reference that further down).  There is a community page, but it’s tricky to tell whether that’s affiliated with Coors.  Regardless, suffice it to say, they’re not on Facebook.  Which is kind of a shocker.

Coors Light in Other Media

Coors Light appears to have invested significantly in producing promotional videos, which are all available to view on their website.   And while sharing content, such as video, is technically social media, there isn’t an opportunity to comment on the videos, which creates a very static, and isolated, website presence.  If you’re drinking Coors Light, seems you’re drinking alone.

Coors Light – the Canadian Site

Coorslight.ca features an app that lets you identify bars in your area that sell Coors Light “cold beer” locator.  And there is a link to a well developed Facebook page with over 100,000 likes, and lots of engagement from Coors Light fans, as well as from the Coors Light Brewing Company.   Take a look:

A scroll down the page indicates lots of interaction.  And note the reference to the contest from the person who hasn’t won anything since September.  Facebook is a great tool to celebrate contest wins, and allow winners to share their excitement.  The Coors Light Canada Facebook page uses this to great advantage.

On the other hand, on the Canadian website there’s a “Follow us on Twitter” button as well, but when I click on that, I get a “coming soon” response.  At least we know Twitter is in the works, but how hard can it be to Tweet?  Given the @CoorsLightBC situation, they might want to get on that.

Bud Light

Bud Light is the number one selling beer in the US.   Again, one would think that the Bud Light brand would be heavily involved in social media.  Not so much, it seems.

Bud Light on Twitter

While Bud Light doesn’t seem to have a presence on Twitter, @budweiser does.   They haven’t provided a picture (yep, still an egg), and the tweet count is the same as @CoorsLightBC, minus 49.  Yep, zero.   Check it out:

However, there is a lot of Twitter chatter about Bud, like the below example:

@RaiderFan323 Love BudLight! Official beer of the #Raiders http://lockerz.com/s/106114949

@LBxRAIDER

LBxRAIDER™

But happy comments such as these are met with the egg’s stony, silent stare.   It’s kind of creepy.

Bud Light on Facebook

Bud Light has a well developed Facebook page where they offer contests and other promotions.  Check it out:

What did seem to jump out was that there was plenty of banter across customers.  However, there was little, if any, exchange from the Bud Light brand (as compared to, say, the Canadian Coors Light Facebook page).  Maybe it’s their policy to let the fans provide all of the engagement, but I think we all know that the occasional comment from the brand helps fans know that at least they’re listening.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

As mentioned, Dogfish Head is an independent brewery located in Delaware.   While I’ve never tried any of the Dogfish Head beers, after taking a look at their social media presence, I want to!  They have a wicked social media buzz.  Once you consider the below, you may want to join the party too.

Dogfish Head on Twitter

Dogfish uses Twitter extensively.   A quick look at their Twitter homepage tells the tale:

Some quick stats from this page:  Over 49,000 followers, and note the number of @replies (@replies are responses directly to people who have mentioned Dogfish Ale, or have used Twitter to ask a questions).  Their @replies are pretty much their entire Twitter activity.  The conversation flows as smoothly as a…well, you probably know where I was going with that.

Take a look at this example of dialog flow:

Love the lemon peel in this — Drinking a Hellhound On My Ale — http://untp.it/jrvSL8

@BMOREBrian

Brian Stander

And here’s the reply, within 2 hours:

@BMOREBrian glad you enjoyed the Hellhound, thanks & cheers

@dogfishbeer

Dogfish Head Brewery

A quick count suggests that Dogfish Head tweets anywhere from 25 to 30 times a day.  Safe to say, these folks are not only on Twitter, they’ve embraced Twitter as a key tactic to connect with their customers, and build new markets.  As well, they use Twitter to cross-promote restaurants that carry their beer.   Nice strategy.

Dogfish Head on Facebook

Dogfish Head has a really well developed Facebook page, with over 162,000 likes.  There’s ongoing banter, both between fans (and yes, it’s not too much to say these are fans).  Check it out here:

And while I’ve selected their Wall to indicate the amount of banter, and likes, the overall layouts of their FaceBook page closely matches their website.  Really nicely done, with lot and lots of engagement and exchange.

Dogfish Head on Other Social Media

Yep, they also have a blog (called Blogfish), and a website-specific message board that’s also very active.  And, like their corporate counterparts, they have videos, but always informational, and always on the cheap.

Looking at their social media mix, it’s not surprising that the founder of Dogfish Head Brewery was selected this year as one of the “most creative people” ranking by Fast Company Magazine.  Here’s what they had to say:

Other honorees include Microsofts Alex Kipman, who led the creation of the motion-capture sensation Kinect for the Xbox; Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood; Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, whose passion for off-kilter concoctions has made the brand a fast-growing business.

The consistent message in all of their social media is that Dogfish Head Beer is over-the-moon passionate about great beer, without being gimmicky.  And the thing about passion is that it’s contagious.  Just like social media.

Key Take-aways

It’s fascinating that the larger brands have fallen short on their social media efforts, with inconsistent adoption of Facebook, and no Twitter presence to speak of.  It isn’t so surprising, however, when you think about it.  Larger brands typically have competing departments that vie for control of social media content, which creates what can be called corporate paralysis – an inability for a corporation to take action – even action it knows it must take.  As well, their marketing and PR has been outsourced to advertising agencies that probably benefit more by producing a series of  $100,000 videos, rather than creating and engaging on social media for a much smaller fee. 

Smaller brands, on the other hand, seem to actually benefit from their modest advertising budget.  They aren’t in a position to outsource their PR , so they haven’t handed off their customer engagement strategy to advertising agencies, but rather take on the PR role themselves.  As well, unencumbered by internal bureaucracy battling over territory, small companies can just go ahead and talk to their customers.  It makes so much sense.

The benefit of social media is that it allows brands and consumers to connect with their shared passion that gave birth to the brand that they love.  In this respect, smaller companies have a definite advantage.

Next Steps

If you would like more information about how we can help you leverage the power of social media to really connect with your customers, reach out to us here.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Nice article, Pat. FYI, looks like Coors Light’s official Facebook page is Facebook.com/CoorsLight

    About 713,000 fans.

  2. Pat,
    You didn’t do a very good job looking for Coors Light’s FB page. If you had tried facebook.com/coorslight you would have found it. They also have a youtube channel (youtube.com/coorslight). Next time, before you criticize, make sure you fully do your homework.

  3. I am writing this on personal title. But with a professional background. I want to thank you for pulling together an insightful comparison – certainly saved me some work 🙂

    But I do want to make an argument, not to defend or attack, but because I (we) have a firm believe. And that is: it is not about “doing digital” but about “being digital”. This means moving away from just doing “stuff” because it is the shiny toy of the day, or the in-thing to do; and moving towards having a strategy and reason for wanting to engage through digital with consumers (and, even more importantly: allowing consumers to engage with each other and us through digital).

    So when it comes to Bud Light and Twitter, I can tell you that in my reviews of many markets in which we operate we have brands that, like Bud Light, have a Twitter handle, 14 tweets and 139 followers (or something like that). The brand teams that launched this all felt very proud and “with the times” when doing this.

    But when I asked why we were on Twitter, the best answer I usually got came down to “well, because Twitter exists and everybody is talking about it”.

    Not good enough.

    We need to first understand what OUR consumers or prospective consumers are doing on Twitter, what do they look for, what are they interested in, why are they there? Then we ask ourselves if we truly have something of value, convenience or enrichment that we can ad to that moment, activity or experience. If so, and if we can find a meaningful, brand relevant way to tweet, then absolutely we should be there. With a strategy, a plan, resources and a long term outlook (don’t turn it on and then turn your back).

    So we are nowhere near that point yet, but we are on a journey. For now, we are merely blocking anyone from obtaining the handle we have. It is a placeholder at best. But it should find its meaningful place within our connections strategy in the future… if there is a strategic reason to be there. And if not, we will delete our account, but we will keep listening through our social media tracking.

    Cheers!

  4. Thanks Bill. I really appreciate your comment. When I search Coorslight on Facebook (and I searched it many times in preparing this posting), the only hits I get that seem to be connected with the brand are Miss Coors Light, and Coors Light Brewing Company (which is the Canadian FB page that I reference). Interestingly, the American FB page you referenced simply doesn’t show when I search it.

    By way of comparison, when I search Dogfish, I get their FB homepage as the first option.

    Not sure why the CoorsLight FB page wouldn’t be searchable, though. That in itself would be another subject for a blog posting!

    Thank you again for your comment.

    Pat

  5. Thanks Scott for your reply, and for taking the time to read my posting. Much appreciated.

    Also, thank you for referencing the Coors Light page on Facebook. Interestingly, when I search it, the only “official” hits I get are the Canadian page I reference, and the Miss Coors Light page. So for some reason that page seems to be inaccessible to me. One wonders who else might not be able to access it.

    Also, thank you for referencing the Miss Coors Light page. I was aware of that (as there’s a link to that page on the Coors Light website), but that was less specifically about the overall Coors Light brand (as in a specific page that you reference in your comment), being more connected to Nascar and Miss Coors Light specifically.

    Thank you again for your note.

    Pat

  6. Thank you for your comment. I appreciate that you read my post.

    I think a valid question would be why the US Coorslight FB page didn’t show up on FB searches, while Miss Coors Light shows, and Dogfish beer also show. Their FB presence was determined by FB searches, as well as links to a FB page from the website.

    Thanks again for your comment.

    Pat

  7. Thank you Maarten for your insightful reply to my posting.

    I fully agree with you. It’s very important for brands to have a reason to tweet, rather than simply being on Twitter for no other reason than a sense that they should be there. That’s like having a telephone number just because you think you should, but not bothering to answer the phone when it rings.

    Having said that, Twitter is as much about fanning the flame of customer engagement as it is about outbound tweeting (such as announcing promotions and events). As a result, there is tremendous opportunity to enhance brand engagement on Twitter simply by being present and active.

    For example, if I’m sitting at a patio on a hot summer day enjoying a Coors Light, I might want to tweet that. Something like, “Hot day, Cold Coors Light. Who wants a cold one? ME!” How great would that be if Coors Light replied with a simple, “Enjoy!” (Re-tweeting my original tweet, of course, to their followers who just might be on a patio about to order a beer – who, in turn, might re-tweet…).

    While that would not only drive brand engagement for me personally (because suddenly I’m tweeting with Coors Light, and telling all my friends. Maybe throwing my Tweet on my FB page as my status update), it would also drive sales. All at very small cost.

    So, in that regard, I strongly feel that by having a monitored presence on Twitter, brands can be ready to add to their customers’ experience simply by sharing it with them, and sharing it with potentially tens of thousands of others in the process.

    Thanks again Maarten for reading and commenting.

    Pat

  8. Pat,

    Two quick comments for you:

    1. Great quick article; it was a fast & fun read.
    2. If you haven’t tried a Dogfish Head beer yet, you’re missing out. May I recommend the 90-minute IPA as a solid starting point?

    Cheers!

  9. Pat – your example is a great one, and would be nice to do. Perhaps one day… although we would prefer for you to try one of our brands… 🙂

    Thanks again for challenging us. Keep following us and hopefully we will show you that we evolve and improve our digital/social presence.

    Cheers!

  10. I read with great interest your article on the effective use of social media by both large and small brewers. You may not be aware, but Heineken USA is a leader in the use of social media within the beer industry with both the #1 and #2 Facebook pages globally for beer brands for Heineken and Dos Equis respectively.

  11. Thank you for your comment Maarten. I’d love to try one of your brands! Feel free to email me directly via my website (just follow one of the links from the blog CustomerThink blog posting) to let me know which ones I can try.

    Thank you again for your comments. I really appreciate them.

    Cheers,
    Pat

  12. Hi Kentho –

    Thank you for your kind words about the article! Much appreciated!

    And thank you for the recco! Since posting the article, I’ve managed to track down some Dogfish Head at a pub here in Toronto (not easy to find). Great beer. It’s no wonder there’s such a following. Perfect for cooling off on a patio someplace, on a hot summer day, after a 100km bike ride.

    Cheers,
    Pat

  13. Hi Tara –

    Thank you for your comment.

    And thank you for pointing out Heineken’s and Dos Equis’s social media presence. Clearly there’s more to write about on this topic, so if you don’t mind, I’d be thrilled to be able to feature these brands in my follow up blog posting on beer(should be finished next week. They take some time).

    Thanks again for your comment – and for reading the blog!

    Kindest regards,
    Pat

  14. Maarten makes a good point about the need for a strategy of digital engagement. Relevant to that is a recent survey which showed that although a majority of US businesses surveyed thought that social media was strategically important, only 1/3 of those had a strategy. http://goo.gl/Z7OZs

    Walter @adamson

  15. Most of the small and big businesses nowadays are using social media for the reason that they can save much money compare to promoting that in live TV and sending lots of flyers.Social media like linkedin and facebook can also give you lots of prospective leads.You don’t need to be a degree holder juts to promote a product.

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