Take a Tour of the Schlafly Beer Social Media Operation

May 9, 2013

Schlafly Beer Social Media

Schlafly Beer is St. Louis’ largest locally owned independent brewery, with two brewery-restaurants, an urban garden, and a farmers market. Their fun, friendly, and inviting locations have become gathering places for the local community and their families — and their Schlafly Beer social media accounts continue that community building nation-wide. 

To learn more about how this 20-year-old brewery is using social media to increase its reach, we chatted with the one-man team behind their online profiles, Troika Brodsky, Communications Director for Schlafly Beer.

Many people may think you just talk about beer online all day — which sounds like a great job! How would you say that this beer-talk helps to play a role in reaching the business objectives of Schlafly?

Talking about beer (and in most cases, Schlafly Beer), all day online plays a significant role in reaching our business objectives because our business is selling beer in a very competitive market and an ever-growing percentage of beer drinkers are active online, across multiple platforms. People have grown very comfortable with interacting with brands online and their expectations are that the brands they care about will have a presence online.

The real value isn’t just in having a presence online, it’s in having a really solid presence that is quick and responsive, that’s when you really have an opportunity to exceed expectations and wow people, and that’s what I work really hard to do. I never get tired of emails from people shocked at how fast I got back to them. The immediacy of social media is an incredibly powerful tool if leveraged.

Schlafly Beer Social MediaFor a small, local business like Schlafly Beer, our marketing budget is extremely limited. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook allow us to not only market and advertise what we are doing and selling affordably, but they also give us access to communicate with our customers directly. A billboard along a highway or a full-page ad in the paper can be very effective, they have their place, but they are not a conversation.  Every time I post something to one of our social platforms, I’m inviting our customers to actively engage with me directly, and that is valuable.

Social and online is just one piece of the puzzle, one tool, but it’s powerful. So, while our social and online efforts may only be reaching a small portion of our customer base, for those that we are reaching, we are doing it really effectively and we’re cultivating and nurturing a community and creating brand ambassadors/evangelists along the way. That’s value and at the end of the day, it does lead to beer sales.

There are Facebook pages for your restaurants Schlafly Bottleworks and Schlafly Tap Room, as well as Schlafly Beer. How do you determine what merits its own social presence and what doesn’t? 

Our main Schlafly Beer Brand Page came first on Facebook and then the restaurant business pages. It certainly makes sense to have an individual presence for both of our restaurants, as they are each their own unique restaurant with a unique fan base. In addition to restaurants, we also have a unique Facebook Page for our Schlafly Farmers Market as well as Schlafly Gardenworks, our 1/7-acre urban farm connected to the Bottleworks restaurant/brewery.

Both of these pieces of the Schlafly puzzle ended up with their own pages because they have built up their own unique communities that once again, exist in conjunction with our beer brand and restaurants, but separate. For example, on our Gardenworks Page, we feature content that is about urban farming, what we are growing, tips on how to do stuff in your backyard, etc. It’s specialized information.

We are big fans of the geographical pages for Schlafly that focus on select states and the news for their area. How did this idea come up and how do you build community among these regions?

schlafly beer social mediaGeographical pages are something I had seen other breweries do. New Belgium does it very successfully, as does Stone Brewing. This approach is only as successful as the Regional Representatives you have managing the accounts.

In the case of Schlafly, I am an Administrator of the regional accounts, and will post from time to time something big picture, but for the most part, the voice of the page and the content has to come from our regional Reps who are actually living and working and promoting Schlafly in these other states. They are the only people who can take cool photos at their beer dinners in Memphis or Kansas City. They are the only people who can really helps customers with the best bars and restaurants to find our beer in their area. So a lot of the success and failure of these communities lies with them, certainly where Facebook is concerned.

Social media is moving target for brands. What’s next for Schlafly online?

I’m pretty happy with where we are at right now. I know there will always be something new, but for the time being, we are where most of the people are, and we’re doing it well. I think in terms of what’s next for Schlafly, it’s more about constantly giving thought to what our own website experience should be like. I give a lot of thought to that and am really excited for the next time we have the opportunity to do a new build out. I’ve got some pretty great ideas for a mobile app as well.

If there’s one word you could use to sum up the benefit that Schlafly gets from social media, what would it be and why?

Access. Social media gives me access to our customers, and our customers have access to us, and there is no other tool at my disposal that does that short of bellying up to one of our bars.

And we’ll drink to that! Thanks for your time Troika! 

Photo via Flickr user Jinx!
This entry was posted in Interview and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Email Brand Driven Digital

is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.