Luke Nicholas – General Manager and 1st Generation Flying Brewer, Epic Brewing Company

“I guess growing up and seeing how communities moved through technologies, that’s what I’ve done with marketing the Epic brand. Where are the people? I started out playing around with MySpace and communities there and then, all of a sudden, everybody peeled out and went to Facebook. That was cool but the Facebook thing, it’s a different audience. It’s trying to understand your beer drinker and how they communicate and how they want to be communicated to and how I can engage them. I found Twitter to be the most powerful tool because it’s really getting to those people that are passionate about beer and passionate about their technology. You can really, really engage with them because it’s not just some person that’s just using Facebook because their kids showed them how to log in and they can upload a photo. They’re not the people. Yes, you can engage with them but not like someone that uses Twitter. Twitter’s great because you can push that feed out to everywhere and I push it out to Facebook and people can see that and I can communicate with them there. Engaging with the passionate craft beer drinker and the Twitter user has just been amazing. I use other tools like Foursquare – I haven’t worked out how that’s going to work because it’s still growing and people are still trying to understand it. I’m a little bit scared of Places on Facebook because people can check you into places that you’re not actually at or check you in where you don’t want it known that you’re there. That’s a bit of a worry. Epic, in using that as a technology to communicate has been really powerful. I have people that go to the supermarket to buy their four-pack of Pale Ale and it’s out of stock. They send me a tweet right from the store and I can go back to them and say, “Sorry about that. I’ll get a salesperson to stop in there tomorrow and make sure it’s stocked on the shelf again for when you go in there tomorrow night”, which is really great. Or, if someone’s had a bad experience they can let me know and I can instantly respond – but I’m not only responding to them individually, I’m responding to the whole community which then encourages the community to say, “This guy’s really helpful. If I’ve ever got a problem I can say, ‘hey this is what’s happened. Can you help me out?’ or ‘My supermarket doesn’t have your beer’ and I can say, ‘Go and create consumer demand’. That doesn’t work just for that individual, it’s worked for the whole community and it just keeps rolling out. People that have engaged with me go out and tell their friends that they had a really great experience and it just keeps feeding on itself – hence the nearly 6,000 followers on Twitter now which is pretty amazing considering that there are only 75,000 people using Twitter in New Zealand right now.”



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