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Social Media and Craft Beer: 5 Questions with Kat Barnes

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By Tera Dacek

The craft beer industry is a breeding ground for communities. Whether it is a random Wednesday night at your local brewery with a group of friends, a yoga class, new release or a festival, breweries have the habit of bringing people together. So, it’s really no surprise that the digital landscape mimics what happens at the brewery. Social media keeps beer lovers in the know with their favorite beers, and apps like Untappd make it quite easy beer for geeks to connect and rate their beers.

Kathleen Barnes (Kat) rules the roost, as the marketing manager for four brands under the Alchemy and Science umbrella including, Traveler Beer Co., Coney Island Brewing Co., Concrete Beach Brewery and Angel City Brewery.

It’s no shocker that most craft beer brands use social media to its fullest to reach the growing audience of beer enthusiasts, but we wanted to know: Where do the folks like Kat get social?

Picture yourself in an airport bar in LAX. You are caught up on emails (high five!), and you’re searching the World Wide Web. Top five places you go:

  1. First I’d probably do a quick Instagram/Facebook check, then head on to one of the following, depending on the day/mood:
  2. Refinery29
  3. Flipboard
  4. Well & Good
  5. The Kitchn/Apartment Therapy

Twitter: maintaining, disappearing or on the rise?

I’d say maintaining. I still go through Twitter daily to get my dose of news, and from a brand standpoint, we see quite a bit of value in Twitter for sharing information. I definitely see less of my peers on Twitter, but that has always been the case. That being said, I think it provides plenty of value and won’t be going away anytime soon.

How fast is the digital media landscape of beer changing, and do you have any staples that you hit for industry updates?

Well, for one thing, there is far more brewery competition than there was even just a few years ago. It’s clear that a lot of craft brands are investing in digital marketing talent, which wasn’t always the case. I see it every day from the various breweries I follow online and the cool things they are doing. With any brand, as new technologies come out, it’s always fun to play around and see how they apply to your brand. For example, we just started running Instagram ads not long ago. Last year at this time, we couldn’t play in that space — it wasn’t open to the little guys. It’s great because it’s another tool to add to our mix. However, on the flip side, everyone else has access to that now, so you have to be more creative than ever to really stand out.

I follow Inc, AdAge, Mashable, Business Insider, etc., for my marketing news. I try to spend time each day going through Twitter and Flipboard to catch up on the latest trends and to see what other brands are doing.

Is there such a thing as too much social media?

Absolutely! I see the digital world as this parallel universe. Yeah, it’s great to stay connected to your friends and family, share information, and stay informed. But at the end of the day it’s real life, real relationships, and real experiences that are the most valuable. The cool thing about doing digital marketing for such a great group of breweries is that we use the online tools as an extension of our physical communities. But the real magic happens is at our breweries and at our events where experiences really come to life. We just try to support and enhance those experiences online.

You’re at a brewery that you have never been to and you’re by yourself. Are you on your phone or chatting it up with the locals?

Chatting it up, for sure. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing people glued to their phones in a social setting.

Tera Dacek is a consultant and freelance writer. She most recently worked as Marketing Manager for Alchemy and Science. When she unplugs, she can be found at her local mountain or one of the many wonderful breweries in her home state of Vermont.



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