Today, Craftlab is taking you behind the scenes of one of the industry’s coolest social media presences: Backcountry Brewing, based in British Columbia, Canada. Here’s how they came up with their unconventional marketing strategy, and how it makes the lighthearted fun of social media convert to sales.
We interviewed one of the founders of Backcountry Brewing, entrepreneur Ben Reeder. For most of his career, Ben ran a media production company that he started shortly after college. When he saw the craft beer scene growing in his area, he decided to pursue growing hops on a small farm he owned on Vancouver island. The operation eventually expanded to include industry expert Marc Roberts and brewer John Folinsbee. Backcountry Brewery opened in 2017 and has continued to grow since opening.
Backcountry’s Marketing Team
In the vein of many entrepreneurs, Ben is involved in many areas of the brewery’s operations, including the management of around 100 sales accounts. But his primary role is as the Director of Marketing for the brewery. Along with his partner, Ben runs the significant social media presence for Backcountry Brewing. Unlike so many of their competitors, their social media is run entirely in-house. How do they do it?
Behind the Scenes
With almost 25 years of experience in video production to pull from, Ben is well-positioned to make Backcountry’s social media marketing shine. There’s a reason their videos are some of their most popular ways they engage with their customers on social media. Their marketing studio may be inside of a converted garage, but the content they produce is top-tier. Their guiding principle? If they’re having fun, things turn out great. That philosophy has led to, among other things, new beers with names inspired by popular culture, from Karate Kid (Strike Fast, Strike Hard, No Mercy) to James Bond (Pistols at Dawn). Marketing is a group effort, with all team members suggesting fun new beer names in a Slack channel for that purpose.
What’s Unique About the Team
Backcountry stands out not only for the quality of its marketing and engagement, but also for the sheer volume of beers they promote on their social media accounts. This year, they’re promoting over 100 beers with 60-80 social media posts per week. Each of those beers is launched and marketed with its own quirky, unique flare, and all of the marketing — from the beer names to the social media promotion — is done by their in-house team.
When they do work with folks outside of the business, it’s to commission high-quality graphics and renderings that they don’t have the tech to do in house, or to collaborate with freelancers to promote their beers across social media.
Advantages of Keeping Social Media In-House
Keeping social media management in-house means it’s easier to make sure marketing priorities align with the rest of the business. When things are moving quickly, working with an in-house team helps you make sure that marketing attention goes where the business needs it most.
To develop a robust and cohesive social media presence like Backcountry’s, you need consistency of tone that can be difficult to develop when working with external marketing partners. By keeping the process in-house, your public voice stays consistent, which can help customers become more comfortable engaging with your content on social media.
No one knows your customer base like your own team. Rather than trying to convey your priorities and marketing profiles to an external consultant, make your engagement authentic by having team members engaging with your customers on social media.
Whether you’re working with a seven figure budget or getting by on a shoestring, all customer-facing businesses need thoughtful marketing. Social media is practically free and a great tool that breweries of any size can take advantage of. Hiring an external firm or even a video production company can be extremely pricey. Backcountry’s success proves that you can make high-quality, engaging marketing content with minimal equipment and plenty of creativity.
Key Takeaways for Breweries: Making the Most of Social Media
But not every brewery has the skill set or resources to keep their marketing and social media operations in-house. Ben knows that Backcountry has benefitted from his experience in media production, and understands that not everyone can replicate something similar in their own business. Here are some tips for making the most of your social media presence, even if you have to outsource some of the functions.
Have a Social Media Plan
If you’re going to outsource, a coherent marketing and social media plan will help your team stay on brand and consistent. Without one, you’ll have to spend more time educating about your brand’s priorities — valuable time that could be spent elsewhere. Ben says that “people overlook social media, or they do only what’s required. Other breweries need to step up their game. Dedicate resources to your social media team.”
Hire a Part-Time Consultant
If no one on your team has the bandwidth to give your social media accounts the attention they deserve, don’t be afraid to outsource it to someone who knows what they’re doing. “Minimal effort on social media is a wasted opportunity,” Ben said. “You should be posting every day.”
Focus on Authenticity
“A better produced video doesn’t always get more likes or impressions,” Ben told us. “It’s mostly the idea behind it that is the selling point. The execution doesn’t have to be perfect. We often just shoot our videos on an iPhone.” Customers value authenticity from brands, and keeping things low-key and a bit DIY can be one way to stay accessible.
When someone uses a piece of your branded merchandise, Ben said, “it’s like they’re walking around recommending our product, and they end up being mini-ambassadors for us.” Selling merchandise can bring in cash flow and increase brand awareness. Because Backcountry is located in a touristy area, they take advantage of interest in locally branded merchandise, selling custom glassware, hats, clothing, and accessories.
Be sure to check out Backcountry Brewing’s instagram for inspiration!