The Influencer Marketing Conundrum

We’ve been talking about influencers a lot here at KYC. Influencer marketing is hugely popular in a number of industries right now, craft beer being one of those, which is how we really became involved in the tactic. However, as we speak with brewery owners and managers, we’re hearing more and more that they simply don’t want to be involved with influencers. Part of this opposition to influencer marketing is lack of knowledge as to what influencer marketing really is (it’s not all high-priced relationships with D-list celebrities), but some of it is well-informed opinion that the tactic isn’t beneficial for breweries.

But wait, how could it not be beneficial?

The first, and most often cited reason is that it’s hard to measure. Sure, you can look at followers, impressions, and engagement as indicators of success, but what do those mean in the greater scheme of things? Are those metrics leading to taproom traffic or purchases? For breweries that are looking for definitive ties to sales, influencer marketing is tough. It can potentially be done, but would involve lots of custom links for tracking. That takes a lot of work, and it sometimes can force an influencer to be more regimented than they normally are, which can lead to posts that seem inauthentic compared to their usual content.

If you’re a brewery looking for buzz though, the tactic can be pretty helpful when working with the right influencers.

But who are the right influencers? How do you know? This is another reason we’ve heard from breweries as to why they don’t want to do influencer marketing. The answer as to which influencers are right differs for every brewery, which makes selecting them even tougher. For some breweries, the ‘right’ influencer may be extremely tied to the number of followers. If they’re looking to jump on the hype train, they want big numbers. Sometimes though, those influencers with the biggest followers aren’t talking much about the beer. It’s used more as a prop to showcase themselves. The influencers aren’t looking to discover new beer as much as feature beer that others already know about and are talking about. 

On the other hand, there are some influencers who really dive deep into the beer, and for whatever reason, these people often aren’t those who have the most followers. They post to talk about their sensory experiences with the beer, speaking at length about the taste, smell, feel and so on.

Neither approach is objectively right or wrong. But they can be subjectively right or wrong based on your company and its approach to beer-making and marketing.

Choosing influencers can present risk for your company. A close relationship with an influencer is a partnership. Even if you don’t look at it that way, others will. If you invite an influencer to an event, and they later post about it, thanking you for the invite, others will see that and think partnership. Make sure you match the people you work with culturally.

When breweries, or any companies, express hesitation at doing influencer marketing, I think it really comes down to analyzing risk vs. reward and benefits vs. time. Those two analyses are closely tied together, which is why many ultimately decide it’s not worth it for them. It’s usually not worth it because they decide their time is better spent doing other things. That’s ok, and in a lot of instances, is the right decision. Influencer marketing can produce a lot of positives, but it’s not right for everyone - just like other marketing tactics aren’t the right answer for everyone.