In my previous column, I discussed how we are witnessing a global trend of “people power.”
Everyone from governments to corporate behemoths have had to sit up and take notice that they are not quite as in charge as they think they are. Instead, there has been a shift in power from those at the top to those at the bottom, noticeable from uprisings on the streets, to the consumer uprising over Coke’s holiday white cans (of course of vastly different significance for humanity, it goes without saying).
Weeks after I finished writing that column came the news of Samuel Adams’ Facebook-based crowd sourcing initiative, yet another example of people power. Only this time, it’s an example of a company getting out in front of the people power trend, instead of being caught blindsided by it.
If you haven’t heard about it, here it is in a nutshell: The nation’s largest craft brewer, and one of its modern day pioneers, has turned to its thousands of fans on Facebook, asking them to design its next beer. They call it the Crowd Craft Project.
I just paid it a visit and came away thinking this is pretty much one of the most brilliant uses of social media in the beverage business I have seen so far.
After first “liking” the Crowd Craft Page, the visitor uses a sliding scale to enter preferences for color, clarity, body (mouth feel), malt (sweetness), hops (bitterness) and yeast (finish/complex flavors).
Participating in this social media experiment was not only a lot of fun, but also really educational. And that’s why I think it’s so brilliant, not only for Samuel Adams, but for craft beer in general. American beer drinkers, indeed many beer drinkers around the world, might think they know beer. But if they take a few minutes to become part of the Crowd Craft Project they will come away thinking, “Hey, there’s a whole lot more to beer than I thought!” And that will generate a whole lot of excitement for Samuel Adams, and for the craft beer category in general.
So that’s why I think Samuel Adams’ Crowd Craft Project is a winner. It hits all the right notes (pun intended), using the power of social media to meet head-on a world where power is increasingly shared and interactive.