Social Media Interaction Drives Sales for Saint Arnold Brewing

The early days of Twitter proved to be gainful for Houston-based Saint Arnold Brewing, even before they opened an official account in 2008.

The now 21-year-old institution in Texas, which is celebrating “coming of age” as Texas’ oldest craft brewery, saw how impactful social media could have been, even then. With the small-batch release of Divine Reserve about once a year, the brewery doesn’t give it a name other than a number release. Now up to Divine Reserve 16 (to be released on Feb. 29), in 2008 fans of the beer were hashtagging #DR6 or #DR7 and helping others find the beer throughout Texas.

“Even before I worked at Saint Arnold, my brother got a Twitter account just to track Divine Reserve,” said SA social media coordinator Jeremy Johnson.

saint arnold brewing The brewery, which does 70 percent of all its sales in the Houston area and 20 percent through the rest of Texas with the other 10 percent in parts of Florida and Louisiana, now has streamlined its focus with fan interaction for 2016 by introducing two new aspects.

The first is a bi-monthly feature on Thursdays called “#AskASaint” on Twitter while adding to the tour aspect with Periscope updates every Wednesday.

“We have had a strong social media presence for a long time but we wanted to come up with different ways to get more structure to it and some kind of regular features,” Johnson said.

He hopes it drives more customers to buy his company’s beer, which put out 62,000 barrels in 2015. “When it comes time for those people to make a beer purchase they will choose someone that they are familiar with and feel like they are a part of,” he said.

Saint Arnold founder Brock Wagner kicked off the “#AskASaint” Twitter question-and-answer session and Johnson said it was received well. Johnson said it will have many different people on through the year, including brewers, sales reps, himself and the brewery’s head chef.

“We want to get different people from different parts of the brewery to offer insight,” Johnson said. It plans to center some of the talks around special beer releases or events. One such beer release was a part of its Icon series. A new coffee porter was released, so Saint Arnold brewer Eddie Gutierrez took over the account to talk.

“It gets the word out, or we can promote a new event, but a lot of it is just being available and having a relationship and people can feel they know us,” Johnson said.

Along with its main Twitter account, Johnson said 13 sales reps throughout Texas, Louisiana and Florida also have accounts to promote events and beer in each market. “People in San Antonio might actually get more useful information from our San Antonio sales rep’s account than even the primary Saint Arnold account,” Johnson said.

The Periscope talks have been used to give someone a look at parts of the brewery that aren’t on the tour. So far it has taken viewers to the canning and bottling lines, in the grain room, the quality control lab and on the brewery’s roof.

“For us, it’s so new we are still learning the best way to utilize it,” Johnson said. “It’s something we thought was fun. For now it’s something for us to have a way for people to get to know us.”

The latest Periscope was a sneak peak at the latest Divine Reserve, an Adambier that will be released on Feb. 29. It will be the first beer the brewery has used smoked malt. Johnson and brewery operations manager Stephen Rawlings cracked open a bottle and talked about the aroma and taste for viewers while answering questions posted to them. “I love the interactive aspect of it, they can ask us live and we can answer them live,” Johnson said.

The old standbys for Saint Arnold are still Instagram and Facebook with Instagram finding more favor for the most part. “About 10 people have access to that account,” Johnson said. “We can get photos posted from different departments and places in the brewery.”

The account puts a daily special of food out while brewers can post photos right away without having Johnson as the middle man. “That’s been pretty interactive,” Johnson said. “We can post something there and people will be tagging their friends and asking them if they want to go to this event or things like that. Instagram has been great for us.”

Johnson said it has found Facebook hard to get people to even see its posts without paying, but targeting certain post has worked for them.

A pub crawl in Austin that Saint Arnold had done in the past usually got 200-300 people out. By spending $200 and targeting the Austin area and a certain age demographic resulted in 600 customers attending the event.

“Throwing money behind something on Facebook and seeing the end result was good to see,” Johnson said.” It’s good to see likes and clicks and shares, but until you actually see people show up at what you are trying to promote, it was a good example of it working right.”

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