Three Lessons from the Launch of D.C.'s New Beer Industry
When people hear "Washington, D.C.," the first thing that usually comes to mind is the federal government. But there's a lot more to the nation's capital than three-letter agencies. We're brewing up a homegrown beer industry, and social media is powering its marketing campaign. Learn lessons in how to build brand commitment even before you launch, from D.C.'s first distribution brewery in 50+ years.
By Carlen Lea Lesser, VP/Director
There's a lot more to D.C. than just the federal government, even though you wouldn't know it from the nightly news. D.C. has actually been brewing up a native beer industry. In April 2011, DC Brau became the first distribution brewery to open in the District of Columbia in more than 50 years.1
To get the local beer geeks excited, the company began social media engagement almost six months earlier. DC Brau has utilized both Twitter and Facebook heavily, along with smaller experiments with Instagram and Foursquare.
Currently it has 3,935 followers on Facebook and 2,369 followers on Twitter. Notably, on Twitter DC Brau is only following 121 people, which indicates it is not just receiving reciprocal follows from people who may or may not be really interested in the brewery. A quick scan of who is following DC Brau also indicates that they are real people and not spam-bots. Beyond the "follow," DC Brau has also seen nice engagement with its fans. Nearly every post on the Facebook wall has comments and "Likes." They also regularly engage in conversation with fans and supporters on Twitter. Many people wonder if engaging fans and the community around your business or product will actually lead to success. Clearly the answer for DC Brau is yes. When DC Brau officially poured its first beer at a launch party at a local bar, it had lines around the block and sold 15 kegs, or 1,800 servings, of beer in 6.5 hours. As someone commented on Facebook, that works out to five pints of beer a minute.2
Implications and Action Items:
DC Brau did everything right if it was trying to build brand commitment from the start. With the launch of Three Stars Brewery and Chocolate City Beer in the works, we'll see if social media can again help to launch and sustain a true brewing industry in the nation's capital. There's a lot of lessons that can be learned from DC Brau and the D.C. brewing industry's use of social media. Here are the top three:
1 "Beer: DC's impending brewery boom": http://tiny.cc/8xj3s
- "We the people." Making people part of something is the fastest way to build brand commitment. DC Brau made its fans feel like they were part of something really big, and built desire for its products even before people could taste them.
- Be part of the culture. DC Brau became an instant part of the local D.C. culture. Its beers are appropriately named to make locals feel like insiders, the brewery is involved online and off with the D.C. food and craft beer scene, and it even takes positions on controversial issues like D.C. statehood.
- Show your passion. Just a quick look at DC Brau's Twitter feed and you know the people behind this brewery are really, really into this. Why should someone care about your product more than you do? Be sure to show some real passion for your products, industry, and customers.
2 Meridian Pint Fanpage Status about DC Brau launch: http://tiny.cc/vsltd