A recent move by Facebook to relax regulation on alcohol promotion has seen a dramatic increase in alcoholic drink brands seeking to maximise the potential of social media.
The Demographic Restrictions capability means that alcohol brands will be able to promote their brand through Facebook, as access can now be restricted by age. Strict guidelines, however, dictate that ads must be targeted by country and that ad creatives must not depict anyone who is or appears to be under the age of 25.
Restrictions notwithstanding, Jack Daniel’s, Bud Light and Heineken Facebook pages have almost reached a million members, while the top ten alcohol brands on Facebook, including Budweiser, Smirnoff Ice, Absolut, Jim Beam, Captain Morgan, Stella Artois and Corona Light, all have memberships in their tens of thousands.
Cobra Beer’s ‘We Love Curry’ Facebook community seeks to connect the brand to the popularity of curry. The Digital Blogger notes how the Cobra’s social media team attempt to connect with each consumer by posting personal replies to each comment with 24 hours. Said The Digital Blogger; “By addressing me personally, the message seems like a direct conversation with me, a good start. What Cobra and their team have proved to me by this response is that they are still on top of their game in terms of interacting with their fans and creating an experience.” It is worth noting that the Cobra brand Facebook page only attracted 458 people so far whilst the ‘We love curry’ counts about 90,000 people.
Corona Light, meanwhile, gave consumers the opportunity for their very own fifteen minutes of fame through a Facebook promotion which allowed users to upload a photograph of themselves. The brand then displayed it on a 150 foot digital billboard in Times Square, New York. The brand has dramatically boosted its number of ‘likes’ (currently standing at about 240,000) by offering a trip to Mexico to one of brand fans.
Belvedere is also attempting to build a community through their club-related e-zine which includes an integrated Facebook presence.
Baileys uses Facebook for branding, featuring teaser content from the Baileys Lounge web campaign. But the campaign does not stop there as users are encouraged to sign up for content from other channels offering deeper interaction. Paid-for ads on Facebook will be used to boost social media activity. “Facebook is shallow because it’s bite-sized whereas relationship management is deeper. So we can use our fan pages to tease our CRM content and get people to sign up,” said brand manager James Payne at a Marketing Week Social Media Brand Building event. Their site also includes a page to organise a get together with their friends to tie in with their UK campaign.
A Jack Daniel’s micro-site SpiketheCookies.com leads consumers to a tab on the brand’s Facebook page, where they can watch a video of women drinking whiskey while baking cookies. It also offers recipes, which include the “You clearly can’t cook, so just put some Jack in that store-bought mix” recipe and the “Passed down through the Daniel’s family for years” recipe, which has 17 ingredients.
Hoping to appeal to a young and aspirational urban demographic, Absolut have launched ‘I’m Here’, a 30-minute short film commissioned from Spike Jonze; offline screenings were supplemented with a dedicated website
Elsewhere, Facebook app, Absolut Top Bartender is sponsoring Season 3 of On the Rocks – the US bartender reality series. Users can follow the competition and get information on contests and events. Meanwhile Absolut app, Drinksmaster, combines mobile technology with social media interaction via Twitter and Facebook.
Finally, the Absolut Facebook page has a special tab dedicated to Jay Z, including a 15 documentary.
Meanwhile, Malibu is using its site for co-creation: encouraging people on its UK Facebook page to submit bottle designs and those on its US Facebook page to choose the next variant of the Malibu flavoured rum brand: either citrus, cranberry cherry or mint. Voting started on December 1st 2010 and the winning flavour was supposed to be announced in the week of January 3rd 2011, and be available to buy from May 2011. Fans had the option to go to Malibu’s Facebook page or send a text message to vote for one of the three flavours. Each vote gave participants a chance to win daily prizes, including surfboards, coolers and clothes, as well as one US$1,000 grand prize. The Malibu Portugal Facebook site includes a link to its own radio.
It is worth bearing in mind the role of social media is not uniform across countries: whilst 63% of US millennials and 70% of Indian ones agree that ‘one of the main ways that I stay connected through my friends is through social media sites’, that proportion falls down to less than half in China and France according to a survey published by EuroRSCG during the autumn 2010. This is despite the fact that China is reported to be home to some 1.1 billion active social networking accounts.
Besides, this area is still evolving. Last year, one survey of UK teens by gaming site Roiworld shows one in five are using Facebook less; the main reason for this is ‘lack of interest’. After the buzz around ‘defriending’, there seems to be more interest on ‘deactivating’ or leaving the site. And there are more discussions of why young people leave social networks – there’s too much drama, it’s not their space anymore, and people prefer face to face interaction where possible. According to the Future Company’s Global Monitor 2010 survey, people in almost every country overwhelmingly expressed a preference for a small number of quality connections they can rely on rather than a large quantity of connections they can call on (levels of agreement are practically the same across all age groups).
According to a DDB survey amongst people aged 18 to 60 who ‘like’ brands on Facebook conducted in September 2007 in the USA, Australia, Western Eurpore and Chile, the average age of a liker is 31 year old. These people are not representative of the mainstream consumers: 43% visit Facebook several times a day and 33% everyday. For 96%, Facebook is still considered a private place reserved to personal friends and family. For them, Facebook is primarily a source of entertainment rather than a way to stay in contact with close ones. They follow on average 9 brands. The main way a fan come to join a brand’s Facebook page is advertising. Their main motivation to like a brand is ‘to take advantage of promotional benefits’. 36% have already unsubscribed to a fan page.
Facebook brand sites have different objectives: from creating a conversation not just between the brand and consumers but also between the consumers themselves to simply alerting fans about a special offer. Consequently, the number of fans on its own is poor indicator of a brand’s success in that area. It is therefore also worth monitoring case studies of lesser known brands communities.
Here is a link to a report by the agency Contagious on attempts by non alcohol brands to create brand communities across the world.