In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s anything but business as usual for the industry. 

But even while businesses are closed, or trading in a significantly different way than usual, that doesn’t mean that the crux of their social media strategy should change. With most people doing the right thing and staying home, social media is more crucial than ever to connect with consumers.

This is true for all businesses right now, but the significance for alcohol related companies is staggering. According to data analysed by Listen First, social engagement about alcohol brands increased by 326.51 per cent in March 2020 compared to March 2019.

To give perspective on that number, Listen First said that other brands front of mind for consumers during the pandemic regarded health and food, however, these types of companies only experienced 141.25 per cent and 58.08 per cent increases respectively.

The liquor industry growth isn’t coming from being opportunistic either, with Listen First noting that there was actually a 17 per cent decrease in the amount of posts in March 2020 compared to March 2019. So even though companies are posting less than they were last year, consumer engagement with these posts is skyrocketing.

This is big news for bars, as it highlights a significant opportunity. Now is the perfect time to build your online following and interest in your venue, so you can make an even bigger splash post-pandemic.

Claire Stevens, Director of social media agency Crunchy Social, said the pandemic gives consumers and businesses a unique way to connect outside of the physical world.

“Consumers are on social media platforms more than ever and it’s a great time to get your business in front of these people in a sensitive manner,” Stevens told Bars and Clubs. 

“Being open to conversation is how businesses can build brand loyalty and develop strong relationships with their customers.”

Listen First said being involved with these conversations about COVID-19 is what builds strong engagement, pointing to the fact that eight of the top ten performing posts by alcohol brands address the pandemic. By their examples:

  • “The top performing post generating 82,927 responses was by Guinness. The Facebook post talked about how St. Patrick’s Day feels different this year, and they’re donating half a million dollars back to communities through their Guinness Gives Back Fund.”
  • “Tito’s Handmade Vodka was even more direct in addressing the current crisis, explaining how they’re working on producing ethanol-based hand sanitizers in their distillery in a Facebook post that generated 31,487 responses.”
  • “Fireball decided to pitch in by contributing up to $400,000 in match money to a tip jar fund for out-of-work bartenders in a Facebook post that  generated 24,450 responses.”

But it doesn’t need to be about donating money. Posts that respond to the current situation in any sort of way are valuable for the entertainment, social connection and hope that they can provide. Especially for businesses that aren’t trading the same way as usual, this might mean rethinking what you usually post.

“Use this time to gain engagement with entertaining content, rather than sales pitches,” Stevens suggested.

“Consider doing a series of instagram stories focused on cocktail making at home. Brands could run a poll or request comments on their followers’ favourite way to drink a particular alcohol. They could also run a fun competition by requesting for users to tag the brand in their #StayHome cocktail creations and offer the best or more creative concoction a prize. The trick is to get users to show their wider network that they’re engaging with the brand.”

We’ve been seeing this already from across the country and the world with great impacts on the community, both for the industry and consumers. Venues and producers are running online masterclasses, competitions, challenges, or just posting their latest home cocktails, keeping the industry in mind when we can’t physically be in it.

As Listen First said: “If it’s through comedy or charity, it appears that the social media audience wants to hear from alcohol brands around the coronavirus.”

Stevens agreed and said the potential is huge when you start to explore what is possible.

“The key takeaway here is that users on social media love to interact with people and brands but this can increase greatly if you ask for engagement. Use calls to action in your text to prompt a response and interact positively with each and every comment,” she said.

This story was originally published on Bars and Clubs.

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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