COVID-19 has drastically reduced the operating capability of the craft beer industry. Currently, nearly every taproom in America is closed for business, minus to-go sales. In light of the current situation, it has brought to focus the greatest, often taken for granted, aspect a taproom has to offer: community.
Each individual relationship helps create a barstool army of loyal drinkers passionate about your brand. The goal isn’t just to convert individual guests into regulars, but to then turn those regulars into a community invested in the success of your company.
If you’re not engaging with you fans virtually, you’re missing out on opportunity to stay connected with your guests and drive revenue.
Here is a list of strategies your brewery should employ to maximize engagement with your guests and build community at Virtual Taproom.
Don’t just broadcast to your guests — engage!
Why are many breweries just now hosting Facebook/Zoom live events? This could have, and should have, been done prior to life during the quarantine. These presentations result in those on camera presenting to an audience, much like a classroom. Excuse the cheap plug, but Virtual Taproom allows for two-way engagement between the brewery and guests. It is not truly a happy hour if everyone isn’t interacting.
Keep it intimate
Don’t you hate being at a party where it’s too loud to hear yourself or even talk to others? We do, too. Virtual Taproom pulls your barstool up nice and cozy next to other like-minded craft beer lovers. Craft beer is about community and conversation. Let’s talk!
We highly encourage you to pair your releases with virtual tastings. Consider having one of your bartenders or brewmaster walk guests through the tasting notes as you experience the beer together. Education is vital and a great way to connect more with your audience.
If it can be done in person, find a way to do it online
Trivia? Bingo? Karaoke? All of these can be shifted virtually. Have your bartender ask questions (Virtual Taproom has neat, little trivia add-on btw). Encourage everyone to sing together! See how everyone sounds at the beginning of the night, then see how that changes over the next few hours. Get people excited for some human interaction.
Art / painting nights don’t have to be in-person only. Encourage your fans to pick up a 6 pack and some brushes and paint from the brewery then walk them through a little Bob Ross later that night. You could even take the easy route and create an online coloring book where everyone can print and make their own art at home. How about a Virtual Brewery Tour?
Consider hosting a password protected Virtual Taproom event where you can provide access to a limited audience. Think super intimate evening with the owners. Special tasting for only mug club members. Maybe even a virtual staff meeting.
Hours of operation
Don’t forget to make your fans aware of when you plan to host events at Virtual Taproom. No one likes showing up to your brewery to find out you’re closed. While showing up to a closed Virtual Taproom isn’t quite as bad, it could still put a slight damper on a quarantine evening.
Engage with a brand-new audience
Sure, you recognize all your regulars, but would you be able to pick out those who simply pick up your beer at the local grocery store? Virtual Taproom allows you to build relationships with people who may not be able to visit your tasting room. If you’re a national brand, Virtual Taproom can let you have a little face time with those who may be drinking your beer from 3,000 miles away.
Generate more online sales
When guests visit your Virtual Taproom, you have a captive audience. Encourage them to push the button at the bottom to be directed to your online store. They are thirsty and looking for their next drink.
There are no limits
Brainstorm strategies that involve two-way communication, ideally video, to facilitate engagement. Keep your community excited about your brand and they will be even more excited to visit once your doors open again.
Andrew Coplon is the Founder of Secret Hopper, a mystery shopping company for craft beer businesses, and Craft Beer Professionals, a community dedicated to the growth and betterment of the craft beer industry. Check out all of his CBB articles here.
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