We’re excited to roll out the first installment of our brand development series, where we're talking to companies big and small about different aspects of their brand development and marketing.
In today’s blog, we’re exploring the importance of social media in marketing a brand.
We recently got to sit down with the guys behind Craftwhere, a craft beer, wine and spirits inspired clothing company, and talk about the role social media plays in their marketing. Craftwhere started two years ago as a question among three friends: “What can we do to make the world a better place?” After some drinks they settled on the answer: "Not much." So they decided to start a t-shirt company.
They started Craftwhere with the premise that their target audience would be just like them—guys and gals that enjoy having a drink and who prefer to dress casual but without sacrificing comfort or style. As they grew, they found their designs appealed to other businesses as well – bars, restaurants, breweries, wineries, etc. that serve that target audience. They needed a way to reach their audience in a cost-effective way, so looked to social media to achieve that.
A critical component of social media success, is actually creating authentic content people want to see. Craftwhere social media feeds don’t generally focus on their t-shirts, but share a photo of an offbeat beer or glass of whiskey being enjoyed that day, along with the Craftwhere brand included somewhere in the picture. The tone of the commentary is usually humorous and playful with a lean towards mischievous. By sharing relevant, interesting content that their audience enjoys (without flooding their feed with product pictures), they position themselves as an expert in their field, showcasing what people are interested in – beer, wine and booze.
They have accounts on the three major social media outlets – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Like many small businesses, they focus on Facebook and Instagram, since photographs can be the stars of the post. Readers’ eyes are naturally drawn to images, so it’s easier to draw attention of someone scrolling through their feeds with a fabulous picture than with a clever tweet. Or as co-owner/co-founder Erik Raines explains, “we’re simply not concise enough to explain how awesome our shirts are in 140 characters or less.” While Twitter can be very valuable for some industries, Facebook is the most flexible for many businesses, allowing for pictures, articles, blogs, links, and video to be posted to engage followers.
As a business marketing its brand, it’s important to still remember the reason social media exists – to connect people and share interests. Consumers want to have some connection to the brands they buy, and social is an effective way to do that. When asked why social media is so important compared to more traditional marketing methods, Erik said, “One of the best things about social media is the opportunity to build rapport with and directly engage with customers. Through cultivating a following on social media we have been fortunate to meet people out at events that tell us that they really dig what we do. That has to be one of the coolest feelings in the world.” The company also values the ability to get instant feedback to posts. “For better or worse, social media provides a pretty decent barometer of how people feel about things. A “like” is often an instinctive, visceral reaction so it’s a great form of raw data. We can effectively use that data in guiding how we approach the other marketing options, especially ones that require money.”
Many companies are doubtful that free marketing can be so effective and useful, but used the right way, it can absolutely build a brand. Says Erik, “Virtually all of our brand-building efforts are through our social media channels as opposed to in-person live events or other media channels. We can attribute almost all of our online sales to our social media efforts, and the branding we’ve built on social media has given us both a track-record of credibility and content for our B2B partners to see.”
That’s not to say social media is an easy way out. Although it’s “free,” there’s a significant time commitment involved in posting quality content at regular intervals. If you choose to use marketing tactics like giveaways or contests, that’s even more time invested. It’s recommended that brands have several months worth of content, whether its blog posts, photos, article shares, or videos in advance so they can keep that consistent quality stream of content going no matter what comes up. However, without a social media presence, it’s so difficult to give your brand the personality and awareness to set it apart from the competition.
Craftwhere is quick to point out they’re not the experts in social media, but just dove in and tested what works and what doesn’t through trial and error, which really is the only way to find what’s perfect for your specific brand and followers. You can use in-app analytics, perfect your hashtag use, and labor over what your followers want to see, but in the end, it’s about genuine engagement. They key isn’t perfect content, it’s interesting, authentic content tailored to the channel you’re using, showcasing the personality of a brand. As Craftwhere suggests, “Be true to who you are and what you’re about. Unless people think you suck, in which case be the opposite of yourself and you should do pretty decent.”
Wise words indeed.