Alcohol brands lead social media growth during COVID-19

April 14, 2020
By Alana House

Data released by the ListenFirst social analytics agency has found alcohol brands are leading social media growth and engagement during COVID-19.

The data looked at engagement with nearly 300 alcoholic beverage brands on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and found activity was 326.51% higher in March 2020 than a year prior. In contrast, engagement with health care brands rose only 131.35%.

“Given the amount of normal activities that have been taken away from consumers during quarantine, people are especially thankful that they’re still able to drink, which is a big contributor to why social engagement around alcohol brands went up,” said ListenFirst Chief Marketing Officer Tracy David.

Beer and wine were the winners on Twitter, with the number of tweets about beer rising 40% to more than four million in March 2020 and the number of wine tweets increasing 66% to three million.

As for how social media growth is translating to sales, Nielsen spokesperson Greg Doonan told Forbes that in the US “the magnitude of the year-over-year increase [in off-premises retail channels] was largest for spirits (+75%), followed by wine (+66%) and beer/flavored malt beverages/cider (+42%). Sales of beer (excluding FMB/ciders) are up 34%.”

It’s the way that you do it

ListenFirst also found that alcohol brands did well by acknowledging the virus in their online marketing.

The firm noted: “Overall during the month of March 2020, eight of the 10 top performing posts by Alcohol brands all address the coronavirus in one way or another.”

Case in point: Guinness generated the most successful reaction of the month with 82,918 responses by posting a touching video on Facebook about donating $500,000 to the community in honor of health care workers and orders to avoid crowds over St Patrick’s Day. 

Budweiser ranked second and third for what ListenFirst called “a Facebook pun showing the beautiful buds of spring outside a quarantined window” and a Facebook post asking for names of people “who are going above and beyond in doing the right thing.”

Tito's Hand Cleanser

David added: “Brands like Guinness, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Fireball are even further ingratiating themselves to the audience by posting about how they’re donating their money or resources. At a time when there’s so much depressing news going on in the world, people are even more receptive than usual to hearing about brands doing the right thing.”

A study by Berlin Cameron, in partnership with research firm Perksy, backs up the findings.

According to Berlin Cameron’s data, which was the result of an online survey of more than 1250 people ages 21 to 35, nearly half of millennials think brands should continue their efforts during this time, and 36% believe brands should communicate more than usual. 

Context is king, with half of those surveyed believing that brands should have a message about the current pandemic, instead of alluding to it euphemistically or not at all. 

Joshua Lowcock, chief digital and global brand safety officer, UM, told Campaign Asia: “Advertisers need to be more self-aware of how and what they say in creative as much as where their ad appears. Advertising creative that is not appropriate to the moment (e.g., displays behaviors inconsistent with social distancing or lacks empathy) carries a brand safety risk. This requires bringing your creative agency into your brand safety conversations.

“The temptation to avoid terms such as “Coronavirus” and “COVID-19,” must be reviewed. “Coronavirus” and “COVID-19″ will be a part of our collective shared discourse for the foreseeable future. Every publisher is writing about this topic; because the impact is so deep and broad, the phrases are unavoidable. Brands can and will need to be part of this content and conversation.”

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