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Bringing fans together with virtual experiences

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Twitter-BeerThis weekend I’ll be at a beer festival sampling the contents of a few, but not quite all, of the 60+ casks of real ale on display. Previous experience has taught me to take along a pen and paper as I’ve no chance of remembering which beers I enjoyed the following day!

As I look forward to tickling my taste buds I’m reminded of one of the many clever ways that enterprising businesses can tap into social media to bring fans together and raise brand awareness. You probably wouldn’t expect the real ale industry to be tuned in to the social media scene, but CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) and some UK breweries have already held virtual tasting sessions to encourage real ale drinkers to share their thoughts on different beers through sites like Twitter and Facebook.

In March, CAMRA hosted the first ever pub-based online beer tasting. Drinkers were invited to meet in their local pub, line up five pre-selected beers, and drink them one by one while sharing notes on Twitter. The event was hosted by Roger Protz, an expert beer taster, and gave even the most inexperienced beer drinker a chance to share their night’s entertainment with hundreds of other drinkers around the UK. The result: lots of great PR around the event, a new angle to entice drinkers into pubs, and many tipsy Twitterers sharing their enthusiasm with their followers. And none of them needed a pen and paper because Twitter gave them a semi-permanent record of what they liked and didn’t like.

Maybe your next marketing challenge could be tackled with a virtual gathering of some kind. It really doesn’t matter what you have to sell or promote. With a little ingenuity and creativity there are many ways you could bring together your raving fans as well as prospective customers through social media channels. If you do it right you’ll give your customers lots of reasons to tell their followers about your brand and their experience. Plus you could bring in some new customers to boot. And I’ll be the first to raise a glass to that!

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