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Expert Topic Using Social Media to Create a Voice for Your Brand and Better Connect with your Audience

Social media is ubiquitous in today’s market but brands often employ a scattershot approach to connecting with their fans. Across multiple platforms, each with its own personality and user base, social media management often feels like that thing you know you have to do but want to avoid. To help stave off this social media malaise, we’ve enlisted the help of Emily Hutto, founder of RadCraft, a craft beer co-op that helps brewers, maltsters, distillers, and allied trade partners communicate their products, ideas, and stories to their audiences.

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Brand Identity Is Key

“Brand voice is really where it starts,” says Hutto. “It’s more challenging to know where you’re going, if you don’t know, from whence you came, or put put more simply know where you came from in order to give yourself direction going forward.” With more than 9000 breweries in operation, all making a relatively similar product with similar ingredients, Hutto notes that “distinguishing yourself is essential. And to know your brand as a starting point is a great place to not only differentiate but also have a guiding place to come back to as you grow and as you move into the world.” She recommends concentrating on what defines your brand and how you want it defined. Does it connect with a cause, a place, or a set of principles? Write those concepts down in a brand book and keep it available to reflect back on as you progress with your business.

Define and Refine Your Audience

Brands can be forgiven for believing that their audience lies exclusively with the consumers who buy their products. But the net really should be cast wider, especially as it relates to social media. Hutto recommends that brands first define their audience broadly and then refine their target market. “Your audience can be much greater than the people who actually buy your beer, depending on location and other things like that,” she says. “Knowing who you’d like to connect with is a great starting point for choosing social media platforms to use,” she continues. “Pretty much the trifecta of platforms [Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram] we see the most frequently in craft breweries, all serve very different demographics. So depending on who you’d like to reach and sell your beer to, that’s a good place to start.”

Don’t Simply Duplicate Your Posts Across All Platforms

Depending on the message that you are trying to broadcast, there will always be some repeating across platforms. have. “If you’re campaigning around a certain topic, and using an album of images there, there probably will be some repeat across your platforms,” Hutto says. “The point is to then customize the content in each post so that it is most relevant to the varying readerships across each platform. And that’s one space where you could differentiate one photo across the board.”

Be Smart About Who Runs Your Social Media

Social media programs should extend beyond simply posting on a whim and without much forethought and it shouldn’t be outsourced to just any employee. “This is where we get into that important topic of brand guardianships,” says Hutto. She refers back to building the brand identity and book to help guide the voice. “So in this step process that I’m scaffolding, we build a brand, or at least we put on paper what we intend to refer back to. And then that brand voice is all that much easier to come home to when you’re considering things like outsourcing social media posts.” Hutto notes that companies have many different approaches to choosing their social media managers but that the selected person must understand your brand. “No matter what the approach is, outsourcing, hiring someone part-time, full-time, you name it, that person needs to really fluently speak your brand,” she says. “They need to live and breathe your brand in order to really put out there the ethos of what you’ve got going on.” Hutto notes that your social media person doesn’t actually need to even work at the brewery and can do the job remotely if there is enough connection and planning. “I think a brand can be lived and breathed from afar, I’m walking proof that it can. But it needs to be strategic. And there needs to be a lot of not only discovery process, but ongoing conversation between whoever is posting on your brand’s behalf, and then whoever is the ultimate brand voice or veto power.”

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