Grading the social media presence of local breweries
Without the advertising dollar of the multinational corporations with which they often compete, many of Toronto's local brewers have embraced social media as their chief marketing vehicle of choice. And some have proven that they can do so exceptionally well. Here are seven local breweries that have shown that, in addition to supplying Toronto with great craft beers, they are web savvy businesses interested in social community building.
Mill Street Brewery
With over 4800 followers on both their Facebook page and Twitter profile, Mill Street has proven that they're adept at spreading the word about their beer to the public.
Mill Street is also very good at featuring announcements about promotional events being held at the various bars that serve their beers.
Both feeds are clearly frequently maintained and both feature quick responses to public inquiries — their Twitter account notably even features a response to a user on his blackberry to express frustration about the level of service they're receiving at one of Mill Street's Brew Pubs.
Junction Craft Brewing
Owner and Proprietor Tom Paterson's personal Twitter feed and Junction Craft's Facebook page are frequently updated with relevant links and both engage followers and other organizations. Junction Craft's website is also effective and features an interactive map of where to find their beer around town, a regularly updated blog, and links to their other social media outlets, including their YouTube channel.
Great Lakes Brewery
Clearly Great Lakes embraces the more genuine community element of social media and their Facebook page reads a lot like the profile of a friend who also happens to run a brewery. They post outbound links to hockey-related content and the personal interests of whomever's running the page on a given day. Similarly, their photo albums are dedicated to social events held at their facility. Great Lakes clearly understands the role of social media to start conversations about their products and they've even made attempts to create twitter hasthtags specific to their product such as #ProjectX to promote their monthly one-off beer events and #GLBjubilee in honour of their 25th year in business.
Sawdust City Brewery
Sawdust's Facebook page features links to video tastings of their beers and both their Twitter and facebook page are being used to provide updates when new restaurants and bars start selling their beer.
Sawdust also has a frequently updated blog written by Sam Corbeil, their Brewmaster. It's a well-written, up-to-date blog about all the goings-on related to the brewery. With just four followers so far and almost no comments, it isn't a huge hit, but it's still a very new beer and the idea of offering so much direct access to information about the company is appealing in an era when people like to know as much as possible about the food and beer their consuming.
Spearhead Brewing Company
Spearhead's Facebook page features photos of their beer being enjoyed and promoted at various Ontario venues and food and wine expos and they also smartly and frequently interract with the public and other local organizations. Most notably though, Spearhead is wisely using social media to directly engage their public with savvy promotions that encourage user-generated content, for example: "Win a $100 gift card by uploading pics of yourself with a Spearhead!"
Amsterdam Brewing Company
Amsterdam's Twitter feed enjoys a popular following and also communicates directly with local businesses and followers. Unlike any other brewery here, their Facebook page features a splash page asking that you "like" their fan page before you can even peruse what it has to offer, which includes swag-promotions, conversations regarding products, and advance notice regarding up-coming one-off offerings. While there doesn't seem to much of an attempt to drive traffic to their website, Google's smart enough to index it first in search results for the brand. Disappointingly, there are currently no listings under their "events" tab there and the photo gallery does not appear to have been updated since 2010.
Kensington Brewing Company
You might say that owner Brock Shepperd's approach to social media is appropriately suited to the laid-back vibe of his beer's namesake neighbourhood. He clearly understands the importance of social media to a thriving brewery and keeps his beer's Twitter feed frequently updated, mainly by engaging other beer fans and organizations with direct messages. Kensington Brewing Company's less-frequently updated Facebook page isn't exactly stellar and a sparsely updated website doesn't have too many bells and whistles but clearly Shepperd gets the draw of the conversational approach to social media.