“Let me serenade the streets of L.A. From Oakland to Sacktown, the Bay Area and back down.” California’s love of craft beer has had a major influence on the national scene and was the logical selection for my second state to begin examining. The numbers back up its dominance as California ranked 2nd in production in 2014, only behind Pennsylvania. Wait...Pennsylvania? Because Yuengling falls into the Brewers Association definition of craft beer, PA is technically #1. If you disclude those Yeungling barrels, the Keystone state would lose 72% of its craft volume.
Understanding each breweries audience size with tools such as Instagram provides good perspective, but growth trends are crucial if we want to predict the future. I find it more fascinating to look at who is growing the fastest and trying to figure out why, versus simply looking at who is the biggest. Year-over-year production is the best available data point to measure growth, but that information is collected via a survey and only published annually by the Brewer’s Association. The results aren’t posted until March. Here we are in February of 2016, with only 2014 production data to pull at, so I decided to remain focused on Instagram audience size until next month when I’ll begin merging the two. Here are the Top 20 California breweries by Instagram Audience Growth Rate, over the Past 2 months (minimum 5K followers):
I was both surprised and excited when I saw who was seated #1 in follower growth, Monkish Brewing out of Los Angeles. Surprised because I expected it to be one of the big boys with a deep marketing department. Excited because I got the chance to share beers and chat with one of Monkish’s key ambassadors a little over a year ago. I was in Orange County on business and met some fellow beer enthusiasts at the Iron Press for dinner, where Monkish happened to be holding a “Tap Takeover”. I spent a good part of the night chatting with Brian White of Monkish about distribution and exploring new markets. I’ve kept up with Brian’s personal Instagram feed and was excited to reach out and share these statistics.
He was quick to respond and walk me through their recent use of the application. “We were frustrated with our use of Instagram and social media accounts.” White explained. “It was inconsistent, at times maybe too artsy, lacked good content, and we didn’t have a specific person overseeing our social media. Our mode of operation was more of a shared endeavor, but in that we lacked consistency.”
At Monkish, it probably wasn’t feasible to hire a full time employee to assist with their social media, and White admitted that thinking of it as a “hat” wasn’t producing the desired results. “We hired our friend Kallie to help oversee the accounts, provide consistency, posting at the right times of day, and writing content with the right hashtags.” Brian walked me through their thought process, “What spurred this move was a desire to get our name out there a little more, and get people to share what we are doing over here at Monkish. We are also trying to be responsive to the comments that need a response.”
Call it a consultant, a contractor, or a part-time employee, there are a lot of situations where it may make sense to bring in a friend or expert to help navigate a specific topic. The alternative might be slating it as the 5th priority of an existing employee, which often results in less than desirable attention and quality. “It’s been wild how quickly our numbers shot up.” Brian began, “When I started here about a year and half ago we were close 4,000 followers I believe and compared to today we are over 10,400. The benefits we are hoping for are content for our brand, conversations and pictures posted by others, and a general excitement about our beers that we are so proud of.” Brian along with Monkish owner Henry Nguyen are still making major contributors to the feed, but Kallie is keeping them on point, adding structure and helping to optimize the process.
Besides everyone’s goal of brand building and product awareness, I asked about some of Monkish’s specific goals with their Instagram feed. White explained, “I think our other goals are providing a fun feed. We want to show our Monkish style because embedded into Monkish is our love of music, philosophy, theology, and nostalgic memories. We are working on how to get that across on the social media platform.”
When asked about the qualities of his favorite brewery feeds, White explained, “For me the best brewery instagram feeds are the ones that are intentional. I love photography and those breweries that take the time to get the right picture are okay in my book. I believe some have enough money to hire a professional photographer, but we enjoy taking pictures and documenting what’s going on with us. The caption below the picture is to the point and informative. We all have a short attention span. We are not likely to click ‘more’. And I like funny distinct hashtags. We started the #brettparty hashtag here at Monkish and it’s fun. It’s catching on a little bit! Like I said earlier, I see Instagram as a yearbook, a narrative, and a setting for the future. It’s a really fun outlet to interact with customers.”