A SERIES in the quest to know more about the offline world
A 2-Part Interview with Jason Falls
It was at SxSW that I finally metJason Falls, Social Media Explorer. It wasn’t hard to see that our ideas about business and relationships were of the same vintage. Not a surprise, I suppose that a saloonkeeper’s daughter would get along well with the guy who manages social media for the most prestigious international spirits distiller — Beam Global.
Conversation turned to video — a video about SOBCon08, Biz School for Bloggers. Soon enough we were talking the places that SOBCon and Beam Global had mutual interests and goals — our conference on social media and business; their business and their new social media campaign. Jason proposed the idea to his clients, JJ Betts and Scott Kolbe. Beam Global became a SOBCon a fully participating sponsor/partner, just weeks before the soft launch of their first social media campaign.
I asked Jason Falls to check in with Beam last week to see whether we might tell the story of the campaign, both as it started and as it goes through it’s launch and life cycle. I’m delighted to say that Jason and JJ Betts both thought the idea was great way to open the curtain a bit and let folks see how things are working — with that I begin this series of interviews.
Hi Jason! How did your relationship with Beam Global begin? What sort of advertising and promotion were they doing? Why did they come to you and Doe Anderson?
I was a public relations account manager at Doe-Anderson for a while, but one who was constantly jumping up and down, yelling that more needed to be done in terms of social media strategy for our clients – blogging included. We offered social media programming from a PR perspective, but like a lot of agencies at the time, we didn’t have a great deal of takers.
Beam Global, which is the parent company for two of Doe’s signature clients — Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek (& Small Batch) bourbons — came to Todd Spencer, our CEO, and asked him to help them find what they were calling at the time an, “Internet Trends Analyst.” After a couple months of not really knowing who they were looking for, Todd finally put two and two together and realized that what I was yelling about was what Beam Global was asking for. After a quick meeting with Sam Seiller, the director of whiskeys for Beam, I had a new role.
Prior to my counsel on a number of the brands in the Beam Global portfolio, there were some small steps Beam needed to take in order to dive into the social media space. The brands were all playing in traditional advertising, both above and below the line, fostering a sense of community around their customer relationship management programs. My job was, and still is, to see to it that each brand gathers a group of brand enthusiasts through their social media efforts as well as open the lines of communications between the brands and their consumers.
I’ve always said that spirits companies are the most social, which would make the move into the social media space seem relatively easy. However, there are the always important legal restrictions for alcohol, wine and spirits advertising that make social media more of a challenge than one would expect. The good news is that the company is completely committed to new ways of thinking, particularly with this new Jim Beam effort.
How long had you worked together before you started to talk about the opportunities of social media? What was Beam Global’s initial reaction?
Since they came looking for them, right away. The folks at Beam knew they needed to play in the social media space in order to continue their 200-plus year heritage of being leaders in the spirits industry. â€œThe Stuff Insideâ€ effort is one of the first major social media efforts for the spirits industry
Were there long lists of ROI questions? What was the tipping point that made social media a positive direction?
ROI was, is and will forever be a huge question for brands in everything they do. However, Tom Flocco (Beam Global’s CEO) and Rory Finlay (Beam Global’s CMO) changed the way of thinking within Beam Global a little over a year ago when they launched the Beam Global Vision – To build brands people want to talk about. That opened the door for what we’re doing now with social media. While Beam Global is a big company and is used to many of the traditional measures and reporting that determine success, this new way of acting is from the top down. We want people talking about our brands, we want to listen to what they’re saying and respond and we want that activity to positively effect sales.
Jason, can you share some of the growth of the social media campaign from conception to final version?
The great thing about â€œThe Stuff Insideâ€ is that the concept about who we are and what we stand for was already in place before we fully developed the social media strategy. And, as you can tell, the concept is tailor made for the social media audience. Our research told us that the adult, male consumer of legal drinking age is tired of a fake world â€“ he is looking for something genuine and authentic to hold on to. This parallels the same quest many social media users are on and why they’ve flocked to the web to get away from the mainstream media experience. So drafting some tactical compliments to â€œThe Stuff Inside,â€ which allows people to be authentic, genuine and engage with one another and the brand, was almost easy.
More from Jason on Wednesday, as we report what happened when we shared the Beam Global social media plans with a few select folks at SOBCon08.
Thanks, Jason and Thanks, Beam!