How would you like to start selling your beer on Instagram? Add an additional income stream?
Um, yes please.
In the virtual, socially distanced world we live in today, digital marketing is one of the best ways to build brand awareness, connect with consumers, differentiate your products, provide stellar customer service, and yes, even convert sales for your craft beverage business.
And e-commerce is now a thing for the alcoholic beverage industry, which means you need to learn how to sell your products online. Your efforts to promote online sales will not be wasted, as this is the future of our industry.
Don’t believe me? Talk to the wine industry. If you haven’t established some kind of online ordering system or beefed up your digital marketing efforts yet, now is the time. The longer you wait, the more you’re losing out on potential sales.
A powerful way to promote online sales and bolster your digital presence is through Instagram. Highly visual and one of the most popular social media platforms out there, Instagram should play a major role in your digital marketing strategy and online sales plan for your craft brewery.
But IG can be daunting, time consuming, and overwhelming. So here are some best practices that any craft beverage brand can easily follow to make mastering the “Gram” a little easier.
First, make a plan
With a strategic plan, you can utilize IG to actually increase to-go purchases, delivery orders and merchandise sales.
Give yourself some goals: do you want to generate 100 online orders this month or do you want to increase followers by 50 percent so that you can nurture them into paying customers? Your strategic plan will guide your posted content, but you have to always be aware of what you’re trying to accomplish. Plan your content in advance by using an editorial calendar, and then supplement your scheduled content with Instagram live videos and engaging stories.
Second, start building your content bank
I know you’re not a professional photographer and probably can’t afford to outsource one. It’s fine, just leverage the power of your smartphone. My advice is to snap or capture at least 2-3 photos or videos everyday so that you always have something to use in your social media marketing.
Remember your brand voice, your core values and your business goals (ahem, sales) while doing this! Every piece of media on your IG business channel should be themed around those three things. This could be the style of products you produce, your community, your online store, your team, your delivery services or your taproom; just make sure you have a solid list of 5-7 topics that keep your content focused and consistent.
For example, if you want to boost online sales, think about using a screenshot of someone ordering products on your website or post a picture of your online menu with a callout to “order here.” If fans know it’s easy to order products from your business, they will be motivated to make a purchase.
Third, follow the rule of four
For every three posts on IG, you can feature one post focused on driving sales. What this ratio does is ease your audience into a purchase mindset. It’s the right mix of bringing brand value to your target audience through entertainment, education and information, but then asking them to make a buying decision after you’ve given them something they want.
It’s like dating your consumers. You can’t just swoop in and ask them to marry you. You’ve got to lay the groundwork first prior to beginning a purchase relationship with them.
Fourth, tell your audience what to do with your content
Every post should have a purpose, otherwise it’s just brand noise. The way you can do this is through an effective call to action, also known as a CTA. This could be a product purchase, signing up for your email list, buying a ticket to an event, sharing your post, tagging a friend or sending you a DM.
The key to great social media marketing is engagement, so with effective calls to action, you can boost your engagement rates, which feeds the IG algorithm and shows your content to more people. If you want to increase online sales, you could direct fans to the link in your bio, which would be the link to your online store.
Fifth, pay attention to your marketing analytics
You can’t improve anything unless you measure it first. Monitor the engagement rates of your IG posts on a weekly basis by using the free Instagram Insights tool in your account menu. The key here is to watch the link clicks on all your IG posts. Make note of the content you’re putting out there that’s making fans click the link in your bio, which should lead to your online store. Doing this will let you know what kind of content is resonating enough with your followers to inspire purchase action.
Then check your website analytics to find out how much traffic is hitting your online store from Instagram. You want to see a steady increase in traffic here. If you don’t see an increase, you need to reevaluate your IG content. You’re not creating content for fun — this is time-consuming work here. If your content is not driving sales, you need a new plan.
Finally, nurture your fan base
Pay attention to who is sending you DMs or interacting with your Instagram posts on a regular basis. These are your people! These are the followers that are invested in your brand and ripe for sales conversions. Capitalize on their engagement by sending them direct messages about specials, new product releases, merchandise sales and special events — anything that would help to keep them actively connected to your brand. The more connections you can make with your target audience online, the more sales you will convert.
With your taproom, production facility or tasting room either shut down or operating in a limited capacity, improving online brand relationships with your target audience is your gateway to additional revenue and keeping your craft brewery #profitable.
Julie Rhodes is the owner of Not Your Hobby Marketing Solutions, the only educational services company for the craft beverage industry that teaches you how to take the guesswork out of your sales, marketing, and distribution plans.