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Mixing Social and Alcohol: A Marketing Dilemma

With alcohol ads often-depicting parties and social gatherings, social media seems like a natural fit.  Not surprisingly, the alcohol industry plans to step up it’s social campaigns in the next few months.

Twitter, seeking some of the same advertising spend Facebook is getting from the booze industry, is implementing an age-verification process which has been preventing them from establishing relationships in this space in the past.

As brands navigate the changing waters of social networks and age verification some interesting questions comes into play. Who is willing to engage openly with an alcohol brand, and what does it take to make these consumers click, share and buy? What is the correct success metric to monitor?

One social campaign I’ve stumbled across for alcohol brands on social media is user driven sharing of recipes for different drinks. For the size of the company, the engagement with the brand is not impressive. When I consider the research we have done with social media users and vice brands like alcohol, it really isn’t that surprising.

Only certain types of people will openly engage directly with an alcohol brand. Social media is public, liking a page or following a twitter handle is something certain groups would think twice about.  They are greatly concerned about tarnishing their personal brand by associating with an alcohol brand.

The interesting thing, is that this group may be concerned about impacting their personal brand, but is more than willing to consume the content.  They will go out, buy the ingredients and make the drink. They just don’t want to attach their name to the digital effort or give the brand access to their Facebook, and risk having a Facebook post saying, “Elizabeth Likes Smirnoff Vodka.” They are unwilling to write on a brands wall or engage in a digital experience if they were required to link social profiles.

On the other side, the group of consumers that is most likely to associate publicly with an alcohol brand is very lazy on digital experiences. Asking them to type out a recipe or make a comment is way too much work for them.

A much better campaign for both of these clusters would be to vote on drink recipes. The recipes could be populated by the company or ones that celebrities have created.  An easy to do task that lets one group voice an opinion and another consume the relevant content.

That being said, be prepared! Our lazy friends like to make fun of others! The most disgusting drink would most likely get the most engagement.

As industries move to full advertising pushes on social networks they must consider how customers perceive brands both privately and publicly and how they engage with those brands both publicly and privately. Developing marketing and advertising campaigns that cater to both mindsets is the secret to success.