The 20 Craft Breweries Taking Over America

The number of craft beer makers in America is growing at record speed. More than 400 new craft breweries opened their doors in 2012, according to the Brewer’s Association. Craft brewers still make up only 6.5% of the total beer market. But enthusiasts are confident that number will continue to grow. This past week, the Brewers Association released its list of the top craft breweries in 2012, based on sales volume. We put together some information on the top 20, which beer lovers should keep on their radar. Share some of your favorite breweries with us in the comments section below.

20. Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Location: Paso Robles, Calif.

About: The brewery was founded in 1996 by a pair of brothers-in-law. It’s now a four-time World Beer Cup champion.

Beer buzz: Firestone Walker’s Parabola Imperial Stout is coming out this month. The beer is a doozy at 13 percent alcohol by volume and is noted for its “bold bourbon, espresso and tobacco aromas.”

19. Great Lakes Brewing Company

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

About: The brewery was founded in 1998 by Daniel and Patrick Conway. It jumped from producing 1,000 barrels of beer its first year to 125,000 barrels annually today.

Beer buzz: The company’s Burning River Pale Ale has won a gold medal at the World Beer Championships eight times. The name hails from the infamous 1969 burning of the Cuyahoga River.

18. Long Trail Brewing Co.

Location: Bridgewater Corners, Vt.

About: The brewery got its start in 1989 in the basement of a woolen mill. It’s focused on environmentalism and gives its used grain and hops as a feed supplement to local dairy cows.

Beer buzz: The company has an interesting story behind its 5.5 percent Pumpkin Pale Ale: “During colonial times malted barley would be in short supply so the colonial brewers would use a wide assortment of whatever organic ingredient was handy. Pumpkin was in abundance so it was one of the most common of the random ingredients.”

17. New Glarus Brewing Co.

Location: New Glarus, Wisc.

About: This small-town brewery is owned by Dan and Deborah Clarey. Deborah is noted as the first woman to found and operate a brewery in the U.S.

Beer buzz: The beer’s year-round Spotted Cow Ale showcases Wisconsin’s farmers with “a hint of corn.” Some of its best pairings are noted as steak, bacon and eggs and cheese curds.

16. Alaskan Brewing Co.

Location: Juneau, Alaska

About: The brewery was founded by Marcy and Geoff Larson in 1986, Juneau’s first brewery since Prohibition. The website says its beer still have many aspects of the beers brewed during the Gold Rush era.

Beer buzz: Alaskan’s seasonal Smoked Porter is known for the smoke in its bottles, which allows the beers to age much like wine. After being kept in the bottle for three or four years, it’s said to have “sherry, currant, raisin, and toffee-like nuances.”

 

15. Shipyard Brewing Co.

Location: Portland, Maine

About: The brewery was founded in the 1990s by Fred Forsley and Alan Pugsley. It’s one of New England’s largest microbreweries.

Beer buzz: Shipyard is best known for its Pumpkinhead Pale Ale. Last July, the company started brewing the ale at a second location in Memphis to help it meet the high demand. The fall brew is now packaged in cans as well.

14. Abita Brewing Co.

Location: Abita Springs, La.

About: In 1986, this brewery got its start outside of New Orleans. It now brews more than 151,000 barrels of beer and 9,100 barrels of root beer.

Beer buzz: Abita generated some attention last summer when it started packaging its beers in cans, a tactic most craft brewers don’t yet use. The company also came out with a new 4.4 percent summer brew this season, Lemon Wheat.

13. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Location: Milton, Del.

About: Dogfish Head got its start in 1995 by Sam Calagione, named after a city in Maine. The company, which also makes spirits, produces mainly “extreme” beers that often have quirky flavors and are highly alcoholic.

Beer buzz: One of Dogfish’s most notorious brews is its 90-Minute IPA. The beer is 9 percent alcohol by volume and is continuously hopped for a strong IPA flavor.

 

12. Boulevard Brewing Co.

Location: Kansas City, Mo.

About: Boulevard’s first beers were brewed in 1989 by John McDonald and delivered to a local restaurant in the back of a pickup truck. Now, the company distributes its beers in 24 states and is the largest specialty brewer in the Midwest.

Beer buzz: The company recently paired with Farmland Foods to create a new beer brat. The sausages are made using Boulevard’s Pale Ale and Unfiltered Wheat beers and will be available inside the Kansas City Royals stadium.

11. Brooklyn Brewery

Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.

About: The brewery was founded by 1988 by Steve Hindy and Tom Potter. It recently doubled its capacity and is expanding even further this year.

Beer buzz: The brewery’s Brooklyn Blast! IPA uses both English and American hops. According to its website, “Minerally hop bitterness is followed by a shock wave of flavor and aroma. You won’t even know what hit you.”

10. Stone Brewing Co.

Location: Escondido, Calif.

About: Stone Brewing was founded in 1996 in Southern California. Its CEO Greg Koch and President Steve Wagner describe themselves on its website with the taglines “Fizzy yellow beer is for wussies!” and “High priest of yeast.”

Beer buzz: The company’s Arrogant Bastard Ale gets a lot of attention, and the company likes to brag about it. Its described online as an “unprecedented and uncompromising celebration of intensity.”

9. Harpoon Brewery

Location: Boston, Mass.

About: Harpoon opened its doors in 1986, run by college friends Rich Doyle and Dan Kenary. At the time, it was the first brewery to operate in Boston in more than 25 years.

Beer buzz: The company’s strongest beer is the Imperial IPA, at 10 percent alcohol by volume. Its brewed with pale and caramel malts and is said to “pack a whallop.”

8. Matt Brewing Co.

Location: Utica, N.Y.

About: This company has been in business for more than a century. It was founded by a German immigrant and is currently run by family descendants, Nick and Fred Matt. Their main label is the Saranac line of beers.

Beer buzz: The Saranac White IPA is one of the brewery’s core beers. It gives a twist on a typical IPA with hints of orange peel, wheat malt, oats and coriander.

7. Bell’s Brewery, Inc.

Location: Galesburg, Mich.

About: Larry Bell founded Bell’s in 1985. According the website, his first batches were brewed in a 15-gallon soup kettle and self-delivered by employees. Now, the company brews more than 500,000 gallons of beer each year.

Beer buzz: The company’s fruity Oberon Ale is one of its most well-known, coming out during the spring and summer. The brewery also produces an exclusive “remarkably drinkable” double IPA in the winter called Hopslam, which packs a punch at 10 percent alcohol by volume.

6. Lagunitas Brewing Co.

Location: Petaluma, Calif.

About: The company was founded by a team of brew fans from across the nation in the mid-1990s. Its owned by Tony Magee and now also operates a brewery in Chicago.

Beer buzz: Lagunitas’ brews are known for their tongue-in-cheek descriptions. The company’s Maximus IPA contains “flavor so hoppy it threatens to remove the enamel from one’s teeth.”

5. Deschutes Brewery

Location: Bend, Ore.

About: Deschutes got its start in 1988 by Gary Fish. The company encourages the public to drop by the breweries in Bend and Portland to meet the “beer-obsessed folks” behind the brews.

Beer buzz: The Mirror Pond Pale Ale earned a gold medal at this year’s International Brewing Awards. The beer is the company’s recommended starter for beer beginners and is known for being brewed “unmistakably right.”

4. The Gambrinus Co.

Location: San Antonio, Texas

About: The company started as a beer importer when it was founded in 1986 by Carlos Alvarez. It now owns craft breweries including craft breweries including Trumer Brauerei Brewery and BridgePort Brewing Company.

Beer buzz: BridgePort’s Blue Heron Pale Ale was named for Portland’s official bird. It ranks high on maltiness and low on hoppiness.

3. New Belgium Brewing Co.

Location: Fort Collins, Colo.

About: New Belgium got its start in Jeff Lebesch’s basement in 1989 with his Abbey and Fat Tire beers. Lebesch no longer works at the company, but the craft brewery continues to be successful.

Beer buzz: Fat Tire, an amber ale, remains one of the brewery’s most famous beers. It has sweet and caramel malts and a “flash of fresh hop bitterness.”

2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Location: Chico, Calif.

About: Ken Grossman founded Sierra Nevada in 1979 near his favorite hiking grounds. He started with the Sierra Nevada Stout, which has kept the same basic recipe since.

Beer buzz: The company releases speciality Beer Camp brews each year. The beers are developed during a literal “beer camp” by some of Sierra Nevada’s biggest fans and released as solely on-tap specialties.

1. Boston Beer Co.

Location: Boston, Mass.

About: Boston Brewing is most famous for being the creator of Samuel Adams. The beer was first released in 1985 by Jim Koch, who came from a family of five generations of brewmasters.

Beer buzz: The company’s most famous brew remains the Samuel Adams Boston Lager. But it has a fleet of more than 20 other beers, including the Grumpy Monk Belgian IPA and Blueberry Hill Lager.

Nine Beers Americans No Longer Drink

Craft Breweries are Taking a Bite Out of Macro-Brew Sales

After three years of declining sales, shipments of domestically sold beer are up by more than 1% in the United States this year. While sales of specialty, craft, and small-market beers have improved dramatically, many of the traditional, full-calorie beers that were once the staples of most breweries have fallen behind. In the five years ending in 2011, sales of Budweiser, which was once the top-selling beer in the country for years, have fallen by 7 million barrels. Sales of Michelob are down more than 70%. Based on data provided by Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the nine large — or once-large — beer brands with a five-year decline in sales of 30% or more.

While regular, full-calorie beer was once the mainstream, now light has become the primary beer of choice. Budweiser, once by far the most popular beer, has now fallen to third place in domestic sales, with 17.2 million barrels shipped in 2011, compared to Coors Light’s 17.4 million. The U.S. beer leader is, by a long shot, Bud Light, with 39.15 million barrels sold last year.

Budweiser did not quite make the 30% decline in sales cutoff for our list, but many other traditional brews did. Old Milwaukee, Milwaukee’s Best and Miller Genuine Draft have all lost 50% of their sales since 2006. Michelob shipped 500,000 barrels domestically in 2006, but sold just 140,000 in 2011.

While light beer has supplanted full-calorie beer in popularity, sales of most leading light brands have been flat over the past several years. In fact, many of the beers on our list with the biggest declines are light beers that either didn’t catch on or faded out of popularity. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS executive editor Eric Shepard explained that it is specialty beers and craft beers — not light beer — that have eaten into sales of traditional full-calorie beer in the past year.

Shepard explained that like most major brand-centered industries, the beer industry has entered a period of aggressively marketing new brands and flavors. “I think that part of the reason that brewers felt we had three down years was primarily the economy… but it was also a lack of innovation, and so now you’re seeing [the beer industry] rev up these things,” he said. “The buzzword for this year was innovation.”

To combat the growing popularity of craft brews, major breweries such as Anheuser-Busch Inbev (NYSE: BUD) and MillerCoors have aggressively marketed their own specialty beer. Bud Light Platinum, which debuted during the Super Bowl, has been very successful, beating most expectations. Shock Top, also produced by Anheuser-Busch, sold 600,000 barrels last year, more than double the previous year’s sales. Another Belgian white beer, Blue Moon, which is sold by MillerCoors, was the 18th-most popular beer sold last year. Shepard expects the focus on nontraditional brews to continue at least through next year. This will likely further reduce sales of the declining brands on our list.

24/7 Wall St. identified the nine beers Americans no longer drink based on INSIGHTS top 50 beer brands with at least 500,000 barrels in sales in either 2006 or 2011 with sales declines of 30% or more over the same period. Sales for flavored malt beverages and craft beers were excluded from the analysis.

These are the nine beers Americans no longer drink.

9. Milwaukee’s Best Light
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 35.5%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2011): 1.2 million

Milwaukee’s Best Light, according to SABMiller, one half of MillerCoors, is a “leading low-calorie beer in the near-premium segment.” Although the brand has been on shelves since 1986, in recent years customers have abandoned the beer. Sales volume dropped by more than a third between 2006 and 2011, versus a decline of just 4% for all top brands. Last year, Milwaukee’s Best Light sold 750,000 barrels, 5.8% less than in 2010. Meanwhile, sales for the top brands fell by just 1.7% during that time.

8. Miller High Life Light
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 37.6%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2011): 390,000

Miller High Life Light was first sold in 1994 as the low-calorie version of Miller High Life, often referred to as “the champagne of beers.” But while customers have continued buying the original Miller High Life — sales declined just 3.6% between 2006 and 2011 — they have deserted the light version — which saw sales decline by more than ten times that number. In 2011, sales fell by 80,000 barrels, or 17%, from 2010.

7. Amstel Light
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 47.7%
> Brewer: Heineken
> Barrels sold (2011): 340,000

Debuting in 1980, Amstel Light claims to have been the first imported light beer available in the U.S. The brand, brewed by Heineken, is the only imported beer, as well as the only beer not brewed by Anheuser-Busch InBev or MillerCoors, on this list. Neither of these brewers experienced a sales decline as large as that of Heineken between 2010 and 2011, when U.S. sales volume fell by 3.9%. One cause was Amstel Light sales, which fell by 13.9% — more than any other major Heineken brand.

6. Miller Genuine Draft
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 52.3%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2011): 1.6 million

Miller Genuine Draft, marketed as having “the fresh taste of draft beer in a bottle,” has lost consumers’ attention in recent years. It was one of just six beers that had sales volume fall by half between 2006 and 2011. During this time, the total number of Miller Genuine Draft barrels sold fell by 1.7 million, more than any other beer on this list. Only one other brand bottled by MillerCoors — Miller Lite — had a larger decline in barrels sold over this time span.

[More from 24/7 Wall St.: Best and Worst Run States in America]

5. Old Milwaukee
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 52.8%
> Brewer: Pabst Brewing Company
> Barrels sold (2011): 460,000

Old Milwaukee is brewed by the Pabst Brewing Company, which sold itself to C. Dean Metropoulos — described by The New York Times as “a veteran food executive known for corporate turnarounds” — in 2010. Last year, the Chicago Tribune reported that employees felt Metropoulos’ marketing plans were moving the company away from the philosophies and practices that made it successful. From 2010 to 2011 alone, sales decreased by 12.4% — worse than 80% of top brands.

4. Milwaukee’s Best
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 57.1%
> Brewer: MillerCoors
> Barrels sold (2011): 750,000

MillerCoors claims that Milwaukee’s Best is “brewed for a man’s taste,” and is “highly drinkable [and] highly affordable.” However customers have stopped buying — and drinking — the brand. Between 2006 and 2011, no major brand made by MillerCoors had a larger percentage decrease in sales. The beer is one of the worst-ranked brews on BeerAdvocate.com.

3. Budweiser Select
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 60.8%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
> Barrels sold (2011): 775,000

Budweiser Select, introduced in 2005, claims to offer a “distinctively full flavor,” with just 99 calories per 12-ounces — roughly the same as Michelob Ultra. The brand has not sold well since its introduction, with sales declining by 1.2 million barrels between 2006 and 2011 — more than all but a few top brands. In 2009, Anheuser-Busch InBev also introduced Budweiser Select 55, which the company describes as “the lightest beer in the world with fewer calories than any other beer option currently available.”

2. Michelob Light
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 66.3%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
> Barrels sold (2011): 425,000

From 2006 to 2011 shipments of Michelob Light fell by 66.3%, more than any other major light beer in the U.S. While sales of Michelob Light declined, sales of Michelob Ultra — introduced in 2002, with just 95 calories per 12 ounces — rose by 10.3% from 2006 to 2011. Anheuser-Busch InBev no longer prominently markets the beers on its websites alongside the better-selling Michelob Ultra. Between 2010-2011, sales of Michelob light fell by 19%, more than all but two of the top brands we reviewed.

1. Michelob
> Sales loss (2006-2011): 72.0%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
> Barrels sold (2011): 140,000

American consumers have abandoned Michelob — a lager brewed since 1896 — at a faster rate than any other beer. From 2006 to 2011, sales declined from 500,000 barrels to 140,000, with a 20% drop between 2010 and 2011 alone. No other beer on this list sold less than Michelob. The next-lowest selling beer, Amstel Light, still sold 200,000 barrels more than Michelob last year. The brand has not always struggled. According to Beer Marketer’s INSIGHTS’ Eric Shepard, “the superpremium category — basically between Budweiser and the imports — Michelob pretty much had that to itself for many years.”

Contributing Writers: Michael B. Sauter and Alexander E.M. Hess | 24/7 Wall St

[button link=”http://wp.me/P2Kf3f-3F” type=”icon” icon=”stats”] Read More – States that drink the most beer[/button]

3 Ways to Boost Social Media Engagement

#1: Crowdsource

It’s a term credited to Jeff Howe, who wrote about the phenomenon for Wired magazine back in 2006. He defined the concept as a “new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D.”

 

Today, crowdsourcing has become one of the most influential tools in the social media landscape to attract and capture the attention of unique or specific-reach consumers, those that have similar interests and or behaviors. It begins as a community based question, designed to answer or advise on an issue, challenge or just to garner feedback. Crowdsource has enormous potential in today’s craft brew market. Breweries are consistently playing with new seasonal flavors, trying to understand flavor behaviors, by region or demographic – and one of the best ways to appeal to your fan base is to enlist their advice and thoughts.  You can do voting polls, inquire about favorite beers at specific seasons, even dig a little into what other brands and crafts your customer is enjoying.  Knowing where your fans cheat a little gives you valuable insight.  Crowdsourcing can add value to your brewery and it can be a great forum of ideas and shared interests for all your fans.

Crowdsourcing can be a great engagement tactic. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Crowdsourcing has been adopted by many multinational companies and organizations, such as the mining company Goldcorp and NASA. And with the popularity of social media, crowdsourcing quickly spread to Facebook. Social networks have made it easy for businesses to reach out to their community of friends and fans, and recruit new ones. It’s a way for companies to get relevant information from users and target audiences. One reason crowdsourcing is effective is that it gives a business’s audience a voice and an opportunity for recognition. Of course you don’t have to be a huge organization to use the concept. A few years ago, vitaminwater invited its Facebook fans to choose a new flavor via an app called “FlavorCreator.” It was wildly successful and the company ultimately called the winning flavor vitaminwater connect. Vitaminwater’s FlavorCreator app allowed fans to contribute to the first vitaminwater made by the fans for the fans.

vitamin water app

Another example is the t-shirt company Threadless, which depends entirely on crowdsourcing. They asked graphic designers to submit designs for the community to vote on. Threadless uses a basic poll to crowdsource. Threadless invites its users to vote on their favorite designs. The shirts with the most votes go into production and are sold on the website. The designs with the most votes win, and limited runs of the t-shirts are sold online.

The bottom line is that your customers have great ideas and chances are good that they’d love the opportunity to share them with you. So why not take advantage of the wisdom of your crowd? Invite them into the conversation and you should increase engagement.

#2: Introduce/Highlight Your Employees on Facebook

 

Brand likeability is more than product favorability. Publicly acknowledging the people behind your brand—your employees—on Facebook and beyond is a great way to bring them, and your business, recognition. People like to do business with companies that they feel they “know,” and there’s no better way for them to get to know you than by introducing them to your employees. Plus, when your employees get a nod, your brand may have greater exposure to their friends and friends of friends. Adding this human element can also boost EdgeRank if your posts get more posts and comments than usual. Last week, one of my employees put a funny photo on Facebook of me eating a donut that was nearly as big as my face. It got 66 likes and 18 comments… pretty good for a random status update.

jim eating donut

Our fans like to see that we have real employees and that they do human things, like eat huge donuts.

There are other easy ways to give your employees shout outs* on Facebook. Since Facebook is one of the most personal social networks, and the place where your employees’ friends and family are most likely to be, it’s a great public place to highlight employees’ accomplishments. This inspires a sort of positive cycle because they, of course, want to share their kudos with their friends, and in turn it shines a light on your business. You can highlight an employee every week or every month, making it a regular feature of your Page.

In the image below, ToolSelect shows it’s not a one-man operation but a tight-knit group of professionals. Now you can know exactly who is bringing the website to you.

toolselect-employee

ToolSelect highlights all of their employees on a Meet Your ToolSelect Team app.

Use a Q&A as a low-maintenance way to get the information you can use to share on Facebook and bring focus to individual employees. Create a simple questionnaire—What’s your proudest accomplishment? What’s your favorite non-work pastime? The best book you’ve read lately?—and ask every employee to fill it out. Get a spontaneous photo of the featured employee or a photo of him/her receiving an award, and give a shout-out to different employees on a regular basis. In the image below, Moment Skis posted a photo of their Production Prep Pro in their factory.

moment skis

This simple concept brought them a large amount of engagement. One word of caution: Not everyone likes to have a light shined on them, so just be sure that your employee is comfortable with public kudos. Highlighting your employees’ accomplishments is a great way to boost likeability and engagement in your Facebook community.

#3: Reveal New Products and Features

 

Fans of your brand always want to know what they can expect next from you. Whether you own a bakery or a car parts manufacturing company, people who use your products want to know what you’re working on and Facebook is a great way to inform them. You can design a Facebook app that reveals a new product, service or special offer every day for a month. This gives your business the chance to show off the products or services that are not as well-known to your fans and customers.

Earlier this year, Nescafé in Greece did a campaign that involved the unveiling of some new packaging. They filled an aquarium with coffee beans, buried the new package in it and then told fans with each like, they’d reveal a little bit of the package. Within 22 hours, the company had received more than 3000 new likes and fans got to see the whole package. Many people would say “Who cares?”, but obviously people who were curious played along. The aquarium became the brand’s cover photo, at least for a day.

Check out the time-lapse video.

nescafe

Medal of Honor

In July, the folks behind the super-popular Medal of Honor franchise invited fans to like poll questions on Facebook in exchange for the early unveiling of a new multi-player gameplay trailer featuring an all-new map. To encourage sharing with a campaign like this, you could say something such as “The more likes we get, the more we’ll show you.” This won’t violate Facebook’s terms of service. Anyone who knows a gamer knows all about the anticipation for a new game. The Medal of Honor app is another example of putting the release of a product in the hands of the fans.

medal of honor app

Iron Man 3

Films have also been promoted this way. Iron Man 3 gave fans a glimpse of what to expect once they had liked a relevant Page.

iron man trailer

Iron Man 3 used the simple act of liking to reveal a trailer, making it easy and fun for fans to get involved. You don’t have to be a huge brand to use some of these innovative ideas. What they’re doing can inspire your own “reveals” on a much smaller scale ideas.

Contributing story: Social Media Examiner

10 Must-Have Social Marketing Tools

Are you looking for ways to enhance your social media marketing and expand your craft brew awareness? These programs and products will help you connect, engage and build your social footprint.  Empower your most loyal customers (those that visit your events, stop into your tasting rooms) and encourage them to be social advocates – and share the love of your beer with their friends and family.  Social Media continues its growth as one of the most influential marketing channels for the craft brew industry – especially on a localized landscape.

We asked a group of social media pros for the hottest social media tools they use today.

Check them out to see if these social media tools are a good fit for you!

#1: Unlock to Share Plugin

My favorite social marketing tool of all time is the unlock to share plugin. What is it? It’s a simple plugin that “unlocks” additional content when your web visitors share your stuff on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

viral lock code canyonMake your site go viral by requiring the user to share your link to unlock content.

 

Why is this so valuable? Well, today everyone has a Like button on their site. But if you want your audience to share your stuff, you need to give them a little incentive! That’s exactly what this plugin does.

In my most recent experiment, I had 452 people land on a page where they had access to royalty-free music they could use in their videos. If you shared the post, I gave you an additional five music tracks. Out of those 452 visitors, 379 shared to unlock those five extra songs!  That’s 84%!

These unlock to share plugins are everywhere. The one I used was found over on CodeCanyon.

James Wedmore, co-founder of Video Traffic Academy and founder of Video Sales Magic and Video Copy Pro.

#2: SlideShare

This isn’t a “new” tool, but I’m amazed by the number of marketers who still don’t use SlideShare as a main staple in their social media distribution.  According to the latest research from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, just 23% of B2B marketers and only 7% of B2C marketers leverage SlideShare (which now sees approximately 60 million users per month).

SlideShare is a great tool to use as part of your company’s storytelling process.

We continue to integrate SlideShare into our visual storytelling, and it’s now a key part of our lead generation process.  It’s a true sleeping giant.

Joe Pulizzifounder of the Content Marketing Institute and author of Managing Content Marketing and co-author of Get Content, Get Customers. 

#3: Commun.it

I use Commun.it to help build and nurture relationships with supporters, influencers and potential customers on Twitter.

The basic service, which is free, keeps track of your most valuable followers and interactions, rolling up the data into an action-driven dashboard. One glance and you’ll know whom to follow, whom to thank and to whom you need to respond—all of which you can do directly within the tool.

Another big plus: You can quickly spot your most active conversation buddies. Commun.it tallies up the number of exchanges between you and other Tweeters, indicating whether or not you’re following each other.

communitCommun.it rolls up your data into an action-driven dashboard.

In addition to the dashboard, Commun.it has reporting functionality. I love the way it lists hard-to-find stats in one handy place, including new followers, the handles of who stopped following you, RTs of your content, direct messages and total reach.

Commun.it also records this social activity for your Twitter handle, so you can keep tabs on your own contributions and connections in the Twitterverse.

Shelly Lucas, senior marketing manager and leader of social media at Dun & Bradstreet.

#4: YouTube’s Audience Retention Report

You’ve probably read that YouTube search is now optimized for time watched. Effective YouTube marketing demands that we understand (and create better videos based on) how our videos are watched, at least as much as we “optimize” them for SEO, etc.  Those “gurus” who tell you to buy thousands of 5-second views to bump up your view count … yes, that does the search damage you always knew it would.

This is why audience retention is the new view count.

The new Audience Retention Report in YouTube is, without a doubt, the most important social media marketing tool to come around in a long time.  You can now see what kind of retention you’re getting from your videos and how it compares to everyone else’s.  Want to get to the top of the results?  Study this Audience Retention Report like a hawk and update your video making strategies accordingly.

The following video walks you through a couple of reports and offers some insights on how to respond.

 

Paul Colligan, education czar for Traffic Geyser Inc. and CEO of Colligan.com. 

#5: Cyfe

While there are a number of enterprise-level listening and monitoring tools available to assist brands, a new tool that I’ve been a fan of is Cyfe. It provides visibility into social channel and search metrics that typically only admins of those channels/tools have access to.

all in one business dashboard cyfeCyfe is an all-in-one dashboard that helps you monitor and analyze data scattered across all of your online services.

For example, we’re able to set up a visual real-time dashboard for GoToMeeting, which provides brand-specific Facebook Insights data, YouTube Analytics, Twitter and Twitter Search information, SEOMoz, Google Trends, Google Analytics and a number of other social or search data points.

As a social media team, we’re often asked for such information from team members who are curious about the community, channel interactions and other related questions. Cyfe has enabled to us to make that data easily accessible to our team members.

Going one step beyond social and search, Cyfe also enables you to bring in your CRM, email marketing and blog data, with new integrations shipping on a regular basis.

Justin Levystrategic advisor on all social media activities at Citrix Online and editor-in-chief of Workshifting.com.

#6: Cloze

The newest tool that I’m most excited about is Cloze, recommended to me by Jascha Kaykas-Wolff of Mindjet.

Imagine an aggregation and curation system for your social network and that’s what Cloze provides. I’m able to view the activity of people by date in my network and then check them off, respond to them, like them or retweet them directly from the Cloze interface.

clozeCloze helps you increase your interaction with those most important to you.

It’s absolutely genius and is already saving me tons of time, increasing my interaction with those most important to me and reducing the clutter and wasted time of having five channels open that I’m constantly trying to stay abreast of. This is the inbox of the future! Cloze is currently in beta.

Douglas Karr, founder and chief blogger at the Marketing Technology Blog, founder of DK New Media (an inbound marketing agency) and author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies.

#7: AgoraPulse

There is no shortage of social media marketing tools these days, that’s for sure. But despite the overwhelming number of tools out there, it’s still very difficult to find the ones that will really deliver while remaining accessible for a small-business budget.

When it comes to managing our Facebook Page, I’ve been very impressed with AgoraPulse. It focuses on Facebook (at least for now), but provides everything your Facebook Page will ever need.

In addition to contest and promotion applications that are a “must-have” for every Facebook Page, AgoraPulse offers unique features that really make a difference, such as:

  • Detailed benchmark with competitors
    agorapulseAgoraPulse shows you a detailed benchmark with your competitors.
  • Fan ranking and qualification
    agorapulseThe fan management feature shows you fan ranking and qualification.
  • Advanced statistics and personalized content recommendations
    agorapulseYou can also track average users reached by day of week.

They also offer a ton of other great features such as advanced statistics, automated moderation and even admin rights and workflow management. These are the kind of features that used to be only available in expensive enterprise-level solutions. Getting access to such advanced and useful features for a price that every small businesses can afford does make a big difference.

Aaron Kahlow, CEO of Online Marketing Connect and chairman and founder of the Online Marketing Summit and its related educational arm, the Online Marketing Institute.

#8: GaggleAMP

One application that I’ve recently been exposed to and am excited about is GaggleAMP. I talk to many marketers who say, “If only our sales and business development team would share our social media postings, it would help us reach a greater—and more relevant—audience in social media.”

This is especially relevant in B2B companies where you traditionally have a large sales force compared to a small number of people in marketing. That sales force represents a potential army of internal brand advocates who can help make a company’s social media marketing efforts much more effective.

googleampLeverage employees, partners, customers and fans to share your company’s social media messages on your behalf.

With the emergence of GaggleAMP, social media and marketing directors can now utilize the reach of their internal staff to help spread their message in social media, and internal employees have complete control in deciding exactly which messages they would like to share on which platforms and how frequently.

Companies simply sign up to GaggleAMP, create a “Gaggle” (a group revolving around their content), and then request that interested employees join the Gaggle. Employees then authorize their social networks and decide which content they would like to share with their network.

GaggleAMP can send notifications when new content is available to be posted, and there is even a “point” system to gamify social sharing and reward those internal employees who are good sharers.

googleamp memberGaggleAMP tracks activity, allowing you to report on the impact and ROI for every message and campaign.

B2B companies are sitting on a goldmine of brand advocates who work at their company. By using GaggleAMP, they can organize and leverage their internal tribe while ensuring control over social media messages that are sent out externally.

For employees, it’s internal content curation served up on a platter to give them more timely and relevant content to share with their networks and maintain mindshare on whichever social networks the company’s customers or clients are on.

I expect to hear about more companies adopting GaggleAMP in the months to come!

Neal Schaffer, founder of Windmills Marketing, is a leading social media strategist and teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University.

#9: SproutSocial

I’ve been enjoying the statistics and tools available on SproutSocial, and am using it to get good Twitter and Facebook overviews of my accounts and for some of my clients’ statistics.

You can also do some Twitter account comparisons, schedule content, bring in your Google Reader to watch for content and share accounts with others.

sproutsocialDeliver beautiful detailed reports to your organization or customers.

If you manage many accounts, you can easily create nice-looking reports that give a good overview of activity and growth and SproutSocial is reasonably priced.

Andrea Vahl, social media coach, speaker and strategist and Facebook community manager for Social Media Examiner.

#10: Reachli

Reachli (formerly known as Pinerly) is the hottest new Pinterest analytics tool. Similar to Facebook and Twitter apps such as Buffer and HootSuite, Reachli allows users to pre-schedule pins and view feedback data such as click-through rates and number of repins. Creating social campaigns on Reachli is easy with its clean and simplified design.

Although the site is optimal for Pinterest analytics, it also allows users to post on any social platform and benefit from similar analyses. Boasting comprehensive capabilities, Reachli is an ideal page-management tool for any brand or community manager.

pinerly analyticsReachli helps you understand what works and what doesn’t to help you optimize your posts.

Social media analytics are essential in providing users with optimal content, as well as discovering hard data to support social initiatives. Offering real-time analytics and best practices data, Reachli helps you optimize your Pinterest content based on the analysis of click-through rates and repin feedback. This beneficial information can result in more effective scheduling and more engaging content.

For a low cost, brands can also employ Reachli advertising, a service that uses a unique algorithm to match content with its most relevant online audience across the social sphere. As Pinterest grows in popularity, brands will find the capabilities of Reachli to be extremely beneficial in most effectively leveraging the social platform.

Dave Kerpen, cofounder and CEO of Likeable, author of Likeable Social Media and the forthcoming Likeable Business.

Contributing writer, Cindy King with Social Media Examiner


Beer Sales Back On Top

After Long Downturn, Beer Sales Are Back

Helped by Craft Brews, Shipments in the U.S. Are Up so Far in 2012, Breaking a Three-Year Decline

Shipments of Americans’ long-standing go-to alcoholic drink are rising for the first time since 2008 in another sign that consumers—particularly young men—are slowly but surely emerging from the recession.

Much of the rebound is being driven by small-batch “craft” brewers, reflecting shifting tastes and forcing dominant players Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI.BR) and MillerCoors LLC (TAP) to increasingly borrow from upstarts’ playbooks. Big brewers also are rolling out alternative malt beverages after liquor companies swiped drinkers.

Beer shipments in the U.S. rose 1.9% to 141.4 million barrels in the first eight months of 2012 after falling three straight years, according to the Beer Institute, an industry group. Beer sales had fallen 1.5% in 2011.

Beer has struggled in recent years partly because its key customers, blue-collar males in their 20s, were battered by an economic downturn that hammered industries such as construction.

“If they’re hit, we’re hit disproportionately,” said David Almeida, vice president of sales at AB InBev’s U.S. unit, which has nearly a 50% market share, much of it on the back of its Budweiser and Bud Light brands.

Job numbers are still much worse than before the downturn, but improving. The unemployment rate for males 20 to 24 years old stood at 15.2% in August. The rate for men 25 to 34 fell to 8.3% in August, from 11.7% in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To see the correlation, look at beer sales in North Dakota, where an energy-sector boom is fueling lots of blue-collar jobs. The state’s overall unemployment rate is 3%, the lowest in the country. Beer shipments in North Dakota are up 18% through August.

Americans are branching out from traditional American lager to sample ales, porters and wheat beers from fast-growing small brewers.

The number of breweries in the U.S. topped 2,000 earlier this year for the first time since the late 19th century and another 1,300 are in planning stages, according to the Brewers Association, which represents craft brewers.

Craft beer sales rose 12% in volume terms to 6 million barrels in the first half of 2012, according to the Brewers Association, which represents craft brewers. The association estimated craft beer represented 6% of U.S. beer market by volume and 9% in dollar terms last year.

Lagunitas Brewing Co. more than doubled its brewery’s capacity in Petaluma, Calif. to 600,000 barrels after completing a $19 million expansion this spring.

Its sales are up about 40% this year and the company is spending another $25 million to convert a 300,000 square foot steel fabrication plant in Chicago into a second brewery scheduled to open next year. Its top seller is a hop-heavy India pale ale, a category often called IPA.

“There’s a shift in the palate,” said Tony Magee, founder and part owner of Lagunitas, which began brewing in 1993. IPAs, for instance, are heavier and more bitter.

Even the White House is getting into the act after President Barack Obama bought a home-brewing kit last year. Staffers have made honey brown ale, honey porter and honey blonde, sourced from a beehive on the property. It is believed to be the first time alcohol has been brewed or distilled inside the White House.

The move to craft-style beers could limit consumption even though it lifts profits in the $100 billion beer industry. In addition to charging higher prices, many specialty brews have a heavier taste and higher alcohol content than mainstream beers, making them less likely to be guzzled in rapid-fire.

MillerCoors is posting healthy growth in its biggest-selling brand, Coors Light. But it also has broadened distribution of small brands such as Henry Weinhard’s, a Northwest brewer it owns, to tap growing thirst for IPAs and other niche beers. It recently rolled out Redd’s, an apple-flavored ale, and Coco Breve, a malt beverage containing coconut water, in some markets.

“I think it’s woken up a lot of folks who have not considered beer and is bringing them into the category,” said Tom Long, chief executive at MillerCoors, which controls about a quarter of the U.S. market and still derives the bulk of its sales from Miller and Coors lagers.

Shipments of AB InBev’s Bud Light, the country’s top-selling beer brand, are rising for the first time in four years, lifted by the launch of Bud Light Platinum and Bud Light Lime-A-Rita to compete against liquor. Platinum is sweeter and has higher alcohol content than regular Bud Light. Lime-A-Rita tastes more like a margarita than a beer.

Big brewers are increasingly working the craft-beer craze. Anheuser-Busch’s Goose Island (acquired last year) and Shock Top are both posting double-digit growth.

At MillerCoors, Blue Moon and Leinenkugel’s are also posting double-digit growth.

Courtesy of Mike Esterl | The Wall Street Journal

The Brewery Bubble

The U.S. now boasts 2,126 breweries—an increase of 350 additional breweries since June 2011. The BA also tracks breweries in planning as an indicator of potential new entrants into the craft category, and lists 1,252 breweries in planning today compared to 725 a year ago. Additionally, the count of craft brewers was at 2,075 as of June 30, 2012 showing that 97 percent of U.S. brewers are craft brewers.

With the latest Brewery Association numbers comes renewed worry that we may be seeing a bubble in brewing.  First, to be a little pedantic about it, in economics a good working definition of a bubble in when prices become detached to the fundamental value of the good in question.  Of course, careful economic students will think about how prices are set in marketplaces and represent the market value of a good – which leads to the first existential question in economics: can bubbles exist.  But leavoing that aside, I understand the usage here: are there now too many breweries than can be sustained long term in the market? [This is a bubble in the sense that the price folks are willing to pay to start a brewery may be too high given the present discounted value of the expected stream of revenues]

Brewery Growth over the Years
Brewery Growth over the Years

In general the market for craft beer is showing stong growth:

Dollar sales were up 14 percent in the first half of 2012, while volume of craft brewed beer sold jumped 12 percent during that same time period.

So the fact that the number of craft breweries is expanding makes sense. However, the overall market for beer is shrinking – something the big brewers are grappling with by getting into more and more flavored malt beverages to try and compete with cocktails and the like.  In other words, the craft beer niche is expanding at the same time the overall beer market is shrinking.  What to make of this?  I actually think it is not contradictory at all.  Whereas before most drinkers would find themselves behind a Bud, new drinkers are looking for more – more flavor, more variety, etc.  Both spirits and craft beer offer this.

Which is all to say that I think craft beer is in a good place and maybe we should think of craft beer in the same way we think about spirits and not lump it in with the macro lager industry.

Which is not to say that there will not be some bloodletting in the craft beer industry.  I imagine that at the rate of new openings we are currently seeing there are probably a number of breweries with inadequate experience, poorly thought out business plans or poos locations.  But brewery closings in these cases are a sign of industry health – creative destruction as economists call it – not a sign of an ailing industry.

Supported article notes: beeronomics.blogspot.com and the Craft Brewers Association