Not sure how many of you have heard of Surly Beer–craft brews are a little more difficult to seek out in rural Minnesota, but craft brewers and their stories are getting more mainstream everyday. If you have heard of Surly, it may be from their social media campaign, not from their product. As Steve and I have both mentioned in previous posts, getting evangelists to tell your story is always more powerful than sending out your own marketing message. Here’s the how and why.When Surly announced they surpassed brewing capacity at their current facility and wanted to open up a new facility, that’s when fans were motivated to act. Especially since Minnesota law does not allow for beer to be sold on-site at the new facility. Surly wants the law changed and has had their story heard on local media and even Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has attended a rally on Surly’s behalf and mentioned the brewery in his State of the City address.
When Foam Hits the Fan
The Facebook page has over 21,000 fans. How did Surly take advantage of their fans’ enthusiasm? The fans got motivated and started contacting Frank Ball, the excutive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, who admits, “I underestimated the power of social media.” Besides sending disapproving emails, they built a second Facebook page, with which Surly is not associated: “Change Minnesota’s Laws to Let Surly Build Their Event Center.” This site encourages Surly Facebook friends to e-mail legislators, collect their responses and then post them. “This could be the first time people at the Capitol are held accountable by a Facebook campaign,” he said. “This is beyond beer.”
4 Surly Social Media Strategies
1. Use Databases and Lists. On its web site, Surly offers an “e-newsletter signup.” Surly used its list to contact its supporters and tell them about their proposal, (they even included a rendering of the proposed facility) and what they to do and how to share the email with others via email, their web site, Facebook or Twitter. One announcement to the die-hard fans first gets the rest of “Surly Nation” to know the news. This is way faster than trying to get a Press Release published from the media.
2. Update, but Don’t Constantly Repeat. Surly is not talking about this new facility constantly on its Facebook page. They are letting their fans do the talking in their own language and create their own effective Word of Mouth campaign. Surly just provides the basic information.
3. Traditional Media is a Bonus. The Surly story has been news on the Star Tribune, KFAI, MPR and other MN news stations. The fans may have contacted the media on Surly’s behalf, but Surly has the foresight to prepare the appropriate information ready for mass media.
4. An Open House Create Evangelists. Surly creates a personal connection beyond product enjoyment with weekly, Friday-night brewery tours. This is a great way to humanize the brewery, connect with fans and solicit feedback (a great way to gather FAQ’s and Facebook and Twitter posts). If they are fans of the product, a tour might lead to social media participation. If the fans are using social media outlets, then reiterating the goals of your facility might be a simple message.
Thirsty to incorporate Surly social media techniques? Which ones are you going to try first? Give your passionate evangelists the forum to tell your story is the key to great social media.