Social media is a crucial channel for beverage brands to reach customers. A Facebook IQ study showed that more than one in three people use Facebook or Instagram at bars and also share photos of their #cocktail and #craftbeers on the platforms.
Yet despite its potential, the online sphere poses some challenges as well. Here are some ways the ballgame has changed and how beverage brands can respond.
Uneven regulation across markets requires erring on side of caution
Beverage brands need to adhere to strict regulations on advertising their products. While some are governed by law as in most of Europe, elsewhere, the regulatory system is voluntary (such as in the U.S.) or co-regulatory (in the UK and Australia). In places like Asia, it is less clear cut. Thailand recently introduced a blanket ban on promoting alcohol on social media, including even influencer or user-generated content.
Because of this, when running large-scale, global campaigns, it is best to err on the side of caution and ensure your creatives and messaging meet the highest standards for compliance, while being targeted to audiences of the highest legal drinking age among all the countries being targeting and above.
Confusing creative can impact ad performance, so brands should listen closely
Recently, I came across an ad on Instagram that used real hops to promote the product, which over 100 users confused with weed nuggets, as evidenced by the comments.
Given the restrictions on how alcoholic beverages are promoted online, it’s important for marketers to rely on creativity to stand out. But when creative gets too creative, customers get confused. When that happens, the ad spend is not hitting its intended goal, i.e., to build brand resonance or prompt people to buy the product.
Instead of looking only at metrics such as Likes, Clicks, and Views, brands need to listen closely to the comments being posted by the hundreds across their feeds. Tracking the chatter across time to see how trends unfold will provide valuable insight into what is working and what isn’t.
Increased scrutiny and feedback requires brands need to engage
On social media, interactions happen 24/7, and it can be challenging to keep pace. While most major brands have teams to take care of organic engagement, dark or unpublished ads (posts that are shown to target audiences but don’t appear on a brand’s page) can accumulate hundreds of comments that go unnoticed.
Aside from spam, these comments can contain competitor promotions, complaints about being targeted as an underage drinker, and valuable feedback that goes unaddressed.
It is important for brands to monitor what is happening not only on organic but also paid posts. Trolls and spammers create an unpleasant atmosphere for genuine customers who want to engage with the brand, and such comments should be hidden. When people take the time to engage and leave feedback, making the effort to reply or Like their posts goes a long way in creating positive impressions of the brand.