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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How to Do Social Media

This is the life cycle of technology: 1) this is amazing!; 2) man, this really makes my life easier; 3) I can't remember a time before this tech; 4) it's something I have to do; 5) this is nothing but a burden but I can't quit now. Social media was sill somewhere around a 2 before Donald Trump discovered Twitter, and now it's a 4.3. And because my streams are dominated by breweries and cideries, I see a ton of what now largely amount to ads on social media.

But amid that torrent a few companies stand out. My very favorite is Rack and Cloth, a tiny little farm-cidery in Mosier, just east of Hood River. It is a two-person operation, and I'm pretty sure Kristina Nance mans the Instagram account (Silas Bleakley, Kristina's other half, is the principal cider-maker). I wrote about Rack and Cloth here if you want the backstory (it's a good one).

Social media is informal and gives companies the opportunity to do a few things they can't do in other mediums. They can speak with the voice of a human. They can exhibit individual, idiosyncratic personalities. They can connect directly and intimately with followers and build more meaningful connections. They can tell little pieces of their stories in that informal way friends do--which when done well is enormously compelling. Finally, they can communicate important information in an engaging way.

It's not easy, though. As someone who half-asses his own social media about half the time, I know how easy it is to miss the opportunity to really communicate. As a public service announcement, I'd like to direct your attention to Rack and Cloth's work, which is among the best I've seen (click to enlarge them).

The cidery's mascot is a sheep called Pomme Pomme, and it's a real creature. (Dunno if this is her.) This message reminds us that Rack and Cloth is a working farm and connects us to the real, sometimes snowy, activity that happens there.

The little retail outlet in Mosier is a charming building where you can find a pint of house cider and a meal made with farm-grown ingredients. Hanging giant Christmas lights and calling them out with caps is the kind of whimsy you feel when you visit. Everything about this is spot on for the vibe of the place.

Cider-making is mostly not a dynamic process, but there's always a vessel to clean! Kristina's use of the first person creates that intimate connection one loves to see. (And which is really hard to pull off with authenticity.)

This last one was the inspiration for the post; it does everything right--and is delightful writing to boot. Let's go down the list: speaks with the voice of a real human--check. Exhibits a idiosyncratic personality--check (times two, with the #killermike hashtag). Tells a piece of the company's story--check. And communicates important information--check. Telling people "we're closed" is a great opportunity to irritate them. This turns that bad news into something charming and kind.

If there's a lesson here for breweries/cideries who want to maximize their social media's impact, it's finding someone who really knows and loves the company. If you cycle through people who just post basic info, impersonally, like an ad, you're going to reap the meager rewards of such an approach. I suppose it's better than nothing, but look at how much more you can accomplish with the right message and messenger.


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  2. I fully agree with everything about this post, and wrote something similar with regards to London breweries here:

    Last year I interviewed one of the co-founders of Pressure Drop brewery and asked why its social media activity was so scant. Interestingly, he said as the brewery is at capacity and has no current interest in expansion, it therefore has no need to be ever-present on Twitter etc.

    I'm happy to say Hackney Brewery, mentioned in the link above, are mow much more proactive on social media, but then again, they are going through a period of expansion currently…

  3. The places posting short links to other social media aren't doing themselves any favors. Several Seattle area bars and breweries post truncated tweets with a short URL to facebook post that isn't visible to people without facebook accounts.