All the News That’s Fit to Tweet
In the age of the internet, the very idea of media, with all of its tradition and oft-promoted integrity, is under attack. Where it once took weeks, days, and then hours to deliver information updates, the era of 24-hour news arose only to be supplanted by the 86,400-second news cycle, with news streaming forth every moment of every day. The nature of on-demand news gathering and delivery has fundamentally changed how the public receives and consumes information. Or at least that’s what we’re told.
Last issue we discussed how Big Media’s coverage of craft brewing is changing. In this issue, we look at how the introduction of social media has changed the world of beer. Whether in the form of so-called social media and marketing experts or in Big Media publications themselves, we often hear that we’re in a new age of journalism, one where the rules have somehow changed. Everyone is out to capture the attention of millennials, even if they’re not entirely clear why they’re chasing this younger demographic. We just all accept and agree that it must be important.
It’s certainly true that mediums such as local newscasts, printed newspapers and magazines have experienced substantial declines in their advertising revenues and thereby their long-term prospects. This downturn is not uniform, however, as niche publications, including BeerAdvocate magazine, continue to thrive by providing specialized content that is otherwise lacking online and in social media circles.
The introduction and rapid growth of social media certainly sent shocks to beer media and establishments in ways still being considered. From the advent of blogs to Facebook, Twitter, Untappd and on through to YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and other more visually based services, the media world surrounding craft beer continues to shift. Breweries and media, both large and small, remain torn on how heavily to invest in such services and their true value. If you run a brewpub or brewery taproom, it makes sense at a minimum to have a Facebook page listing hours of operation or to tweet new beer releases or events. Beyond the basics, however, there is little agreement and even less substantive evidence to look to for counsel. A business’s level of social media involvement varies greatly from company to company, with some breweries employing staff to closely watch the vast scope of the internet for any mention of their brands, and others preferring more in-person interactions.
While the internet has given beer lovers access to information and communication avenues that we could never have imagined decades ago, the value of many social media options to breweries is harder to gauge. Appearing loud in volume, many simply result in a lot of noise and a degradation of the quality of information and knowledge provided to users. For some breweries, the return on investment for scrutinizing every BeerAdvocate, RateBeer, or Untappd entry or review may seem small but makes sense for purposes of quality control and maximizing the consumer experience. Other beer companies just can’t help themselves from taking on every troll with an opinion and an internet connection.
Social media also impacts how writers and publications produce and target their works, for both better and worse. Facebook likes, Twitter favorites, and social shares are hard to ignore and they have value. But allowing them to dictate or dominate the information that publications provide to consumers is short-sighted. While Twitter rants, personalities, and flare-ups will come and go, there will always be value in substantive work by dedicated, experienced and trained reporters.
The new age of beer journalism will be our next stop on this media exploration. ■