Fresh from his speaking slot at eBev 2013 in Denver, Colorado – a conference dedicated to navigating digital mobile and social media marketing in the beverage space – Miller answers our questions on the importance of digital marketing for the world’s best-selling premium bourbon brand.
BEN BOUCKLEY: “How does Beam assess the importance of different social media channels, and is your purpose to drive sales primarily, or is the main objective to build the brand story by reaching out to consumers, and build brand equity this way?”
JASON MILLER: “Each brand we have at Beam evaluates different social channels slightly differently. Since each channel caters to a different demographic, it's important to understand which channel best aligns with a brand's target, the story we want to tell, and then focus on that channel.
“Obviously, we cannot ignore the two big players Facebook and Twitter, but as more channels open up to use like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc., which ones make the most sense to dedicate time and resources to being active in?
“In spirits, it can be very difficult to correlate direct sales to activity on social media, but everything we have to do must ultimately try to increase sales. For us, social media is a vehicle to tell our story, interact with current fans and use our shared values, content and super fans to foster a greater brand presence.”
Creating memorable moments, experiences…
BB: “Obviously, spirits are a ‘sexy’ category and there’s a great story behind Jim Beam. To what extent do spirits as a drink category lend themselves particularly well to social media, given shared consumption occasions, creating a buzz around activations in bars, etc.? “
JM: “You hit it right on when you say that spirits are naturally social. Whether at home or at a bar with friends / family, spirits are usually there, and we should be working to figure out ways to capitalize on the fact we are already there.
“Every day, we think about how to create memorable moments & experiences that people want to talk about and share. Major events, like sports, holidays, etc. are also a prime occasion for us to insert ourselves into conversations and look for ways to both interact and add value. The real challenge is finding a way to become part of the less opportune moments and the day to day chatter without overstepping our boundaries.”
Sue the Bears – ‘A great program for us’
BB: “Do you have any specific examples of social media successes for Jim Beam, and how do you assess the results?”
JM: “Every campaign or outreach program may have slightly different results based on the goals we set ahead of time, but the majority of outreach looks to measure impressions, engagements, mentions/share of voice online and in some cases, positive sentiment or keyword associations.
“Our most recent campaign was a PR/Social program called Sue the Bears. We had some challenges in how we could execute it, but given the challenges, it was a great program for us at both gaining mass impressions from media but also from engagements through Twitter.”
‘Each channel is a separate sub-ecosystem…’
BB: “How do you balance the need to supply information, fun and a sense of community across many different social media channels, and how do you get each channel to complement the other?”
JM: “As I see it, the priority for content is trying to tell your brand story across different channels, and each of those channels is better suited to tell a different part of the story to that channel's audience. Each channel has to be looked at as a different sub-ecosystem, all working together to tell one big picture, and they work best when they are all running on their on content engines.
“For example: Facebook is becoming a catch-all of sorts and hub of activity, brand info, and mass reach, etc., but Instagram is solely about telling your story through your brand's own visual photography. Pinterest is an aspirational, lifestyle channel, where brands should spend less time creating their own content and more time curating others'.
“The balance comes in deciding which are the best fit for your brand, and which do you have the resources for. I'd much rather do 1-2 well than 4-5 at a mediocre level. If you tell a great story, which involves great information, fun, emotional connections – that should create a community for you.”
Integrated digital and social media strategy
BB: “How heavily is Beam Inc. investing in social media nowadays, and how central is it becoming to your marketing strategy?”
JM: “Every year it becomes a bigger part of our strategy. 2014 will be our biggest year to date at outreach, spend, etc. in the digital space, and the move to integrate everything together through digital & social is a major push by all of our brands.”