Company: COOP Ale Works
Contact: JD Merryweather, cofounder and partner
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Industry: Food & Beverage, B2B
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: Confidential
For the end-users of Oklahoma City brewery COOP Ale Works, what could be more enticing than the lure of free beer?
"So what would you think if you could try our beer b4 the general public had a chance. Say something special only for the twitter community?" read the company's tweet on February 17, 2009.
Those 139 characters sent out via Twitter ignited a campaign the story of which can practically be told by the tweets left in its wake, these among them:
chefrp: Get ready okc.@coopaleworks and @okcbiz have something really cool in store for you. Mark your calenders for next Tuesday 4:30 #okcsocialrave
chefrp: @jed it's gonna be fun. We won't announce the location until the afternoon of the event. Next Tuesday. #okcsocialrave
B2design: an ti ci ... (SAY IT!) ... pation. This is so cool of you guys to do! #OKCsocialrave
therasor: Cant wait any longer to find out where #okcsocialrave is. Need info now!
chefrp: @a_fisher the radio towers are visible from the locale #okcsocialrave
glynis_crawford: #OKCsocialrave the anticipation is mounting!! only 2 more hours until we know the location!!
downsokc: 1 minute till #okcsocialrave location
chrismartintv: NIST says 4:00 rolled 2 minutes ago. Let's hear it. #OKCsocialRave
hayloo: RT @chefrp: Here we go!!! 40 nw 8th behind broadway wines http://twitpic.com/1o9qb #OKCsocialrave
therasor: Hanging out at the #okcsocialrave awesomeness!!! http://twitpic.com/1oaqe
Nostringsmikey: easily 100 people at #okcsocialrave
RealTimeTrends: #okcsocialrave - is now the #9 trend on twitter.
foodgoesinmouth: I have to say this #okcsocialrave idea is one of my favorite things I've seen on twitter.
The function was so successful—generating new awareness, followers, and business, in addition to a healthy turn out—that already the promoters are onto planning the second of what they hope will become a regular lineup of events. Read on to learn which steps they took to make it such a hit.
COOP Ale Works is a craft brewery in Oklahoma City officially founded (capitalized) on July 15, 2008. For 7-8 months thereafter, the company worked to prepare the release of its first batch of beers, with the ribbon-cutting ceremony set to take place on March 3, 2009.
COOP Ale Works was the first brewery within city limits—reason enough for locals to get excited. To fuel that anticipation and enthusiasm, JD Merryweather—one of the brewery's founders—began to share, via Twitter, updates and pictures of the operation's progress. He used his own Twitter handle (@jdmerryweather) as well as one set up for the brewery (@COOPAleWorks).
As the 3rd of March neared, Merryweather looked for a novel way to build buzz and decided to continue his focus on Twitter, thinking that those with whom he had already started developing relations would be receptive to such a campaign.
Merryweather resolved to host a "tweet-up" (a meet-up of fellow Twitterers, or "tweeps") on February 24, 2009, offering ale tastings to local tweeps prior to the official release. He dubbed the event the Oklahoma City Social Rave and took the following steps to build buzz and ensure a "hopping" occasion.
1. Enlisting fellow entrepreneurs in event hosting and promotion
Merryweather called on his buddy Ryan Parrott (@chefrp), owner of Table ONE catering and Iguana Mexican Grill, to cater the event and spread word among his base of followers, who were largely a different crowd from Merryweather's. Together, Merryweather and Parrott defined the components of the event and planned how best to promote their brands.
Soon after, another friend who was also already on Twitter, DJ JoJo Bolds (@djJ2O), was brought in to supply music.
They also recruited OKCBiz (@OKCBiz), a local business magazine that had interviewed Merryweather and Parrott for a cover story on social media; the story was due to be published the week of the event.
And a few close Twitter associates, including Chris Wilson (@FreshPeel), voluntarily joined in the fun, leveraging their own followers to increase exposure during the week leading up to the event.
2. Coining the term on Twitter
The organizers began adding the hash-tagged term "#OKCsocialrave" to all related Twitter communications in order to help organize the conversations taking place and to provide an easy means for followers to remain tuned in.
3. Building suspense
Details of the event were offered in little bits at a time, and the event location (Broadway Wine Merchants) was kept secret until 30 minutes before the doors opened.
Small hints to the locale were dropped here and there, prompting quite a few followers to add to the anticipation by broadcasting their speculations to their own followers and everyone else following #OKCsocialrave.
At 4 o'clock (the event was due to commence at 4:30pm), eager followers demanded to know the details. The hosts made them wait a few more minutes... then delivered the news, and close to 20 followers re-tweeted the announcement.
4. Designating it a "members only" event
For Merryweather, the event was a test of the effectiveness of Twitter as a marketing communications tool; plus, he thought, this would provide a fun means for rewarding and getting to know the faces behind the Twitter identities with whom he had been interacting for months.
Therefore, the party was limited to Twitterers only. Contact information such as name, email, company, and Twitter identity were all collected at the door.
A few non-tweeps were even turned away; there was, after all, a finite quantity of beer and food—reserved for those who were the most "deserving." In addition, this exclusivity helped to create a sense of "in crowd" entitlement for those invited in.
The exposure gained as a result of the campaign helped sell 1,034 servings of COOP Ale Works brews via retail establishments in the first week of release.
Moreover, orders have been coming in from bars that COOP Ale Works had not solicited—because various tweeps have independently requested that the bars do so, Merryweather said.
Furthermore, project collaborators Parrott, Bolds, OKCBiz, and Broadway Wine Merchants also benefited, in the form of greater exposure, additional followers, and new business.
In addition to hosting a successful event, @COOPAleWorks almost doubled its Twitter follower base during the campaign.
As for the event itself, considering the numbers of their followers and a will-call conducted via Twitter on the day of the event, the hosts were expecting 50-60 fellow tweeps to attend. Instead, more than 130 were in attendance at the height of the party, with some two dozen more arriving even as the event was winding down.
The turnout included those from all walks of life, from microbrew fans to suits-and-ties and grungy twenty-somethings to wealthy community leaders, Merryweather said.
During the event, more than 80 #OKCsocialrave tweets were posted by those at the event, as well as by some saddened that they were missing the fun. That, combined with the lead-up that had taken place earlier in the day, resulted in #OKCsocialrave's becoming the ninth most popular trending topic on Twitter that day.
- Don't just promote—engage: Rather than pursuing a hard-sell approach, Merryweather and his collaborators simply made small announcements (of course, the enticement of free beer and food didn't hurt), then allowed others the opportunity to get involved using the #OKCsocialrave hash tag, which helped to extend their reach and establish a sense of allegiance to the event among those who participated.
- Intrigue with suspense: Offering only nuggets of information at a time and keeping the location a secret until the very end were effective tactics for piquing curiosity and adding to the chatter and buzz.
- Stake your claim: Motivated by the turnout and support received, COOP Ale Works et al. plan to continue hosting similar events around town—and use the OKC Social Rave label, considering the amount of name recognition it has already acquired among local followers. Although the organizers were quick to coin the hash-tagged term #OKCsocialrave, it didn't occur to them to also secure the Twitter ID @OKCSocialRave... and someone beat them to it. Luckily, that person was kind enough to transfer it to them—but it's a lesson they'll remember.
How are you using Twitter to promote your brand? Email your story to CaseStudies@MarketingProfs.com.
- FreshPeel's writeup of the event, photos included
- COOP Ale Works Twitter profile
- JD Merryweather Twitter profile
- Ryan Parrott Twitter profile
- DJ JoJo Bolds Twitter profile
- OKCBiz Twitter profile
- Chris Wilson Twitter profile
- COOP Ale Works Web site
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