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Social media spotlight: Fancy a pint? Heineken is the most social choice for beer

Submitted by on March 25, 2013 – 9:44 am2 Comments

Marketing alcohol brands has always been a challenge – how do advertisers address the balance between promoting a restricted product and respecting responsibility requirements? And it’s even tougher online, where content can be accessed easily by minors capable of fibbing about their date of birth.

Nonetheless, L2’s inaugural Digital IQ Index Beer study aimed to unearth the brands that are not addressing rising to this challenge, but going above and beyond in terms of digital smarts. The winner? Heineken, which has demonstrated best-in-vertical social media engagement, strong investments in mobile and successful digital partnerships for its Skyfall partnership with Daniel Craig.

So successful is the brand that it bagged the top spot for most Facebook fans, most Facebook engagement, most Twitter followers, biggest YouTube community and most individual YouTube channel views. Its biggest competitor, Budweiser (which came in second) had less than half of Heineken’s views when the data was collected!

And yet, while Heineken’s campaigns are smart, engaging and relevant, they’re not that groundbreaking. The brand’s success is reflective of the fact that the beer industry is woefully behind the digital curve overall, with the index giving 60% of beer brands Digital IQs of ‘challenged’ or ‘feeble’.

The report also notes that the beer industry has been generally slow to adopt emerging social media platforms: 61% of brands have an Instagram account, only 6% have official Tumblr accounts and just 8% have a presence on Pinterest (perhaps attributable to the site’s predominantly female user-base).

Furthermore, the study found that many beer brands are reluctant to stay in touch with potential customers, largely shying away from email marketing, which has been proven effective in building customer loyalty. While more than two-thirds of the brands in the Index offer email sign up, only 36% actually followed through with any kind of contact, and only three brands sent out anything other than a welcome note!

Head of research and advisory at L2, Maureen Mullen, says: “The industry is currently bifurcated between large premium brands that view digital as an opportunity to amplify offline content and craft brewers that use it as a forum to engage with fans. As of yet, no beer brand has invested in digital as its primary differentiator.”

So the opportunity is there for beer brands to up the ante with digital, and a gradual industry-wide awareness of the potential of social should, hopefully, result in a more competitive Index next time around.

The top 20 beer brand Digital IQ rankings:

1. Heineken
2. Budweiser
3. Stella Artois
3. Bud Light
5. Samuel Adams
6. Coors Light
7. Sierra Nevada
8. New Belgium
9. Blue Moon
10. Guinness
10. Miller Lite
12. Beck’s
13. Pabst Blue Ribbon
13. Widmer Brothers
15. Corona
16. Redhook
17. Shiner
18. Saranac
19. Newcastle Brown Ale
20. Rolling Rock


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