As the fight for domestic market share intensifies, Beer brands continue operating by a familiar playbook. Craft breweries rely heavily on digital word of mouth, leveraging cheap organic reach on Instagram and gaining search visibility on popular community sites. In contrast, larger brand portfolios from AB InBev and Heineken have mastered pay-for-play platforms, gaining unrivaled engagement and viewership on Facebook and YouTube. However, as brands step up their site investments, L2’s Digital IQ Index: Beer finds that only a handful have expanded into new modes of distribution and loyalty programs.
Bud Light retained its top spot this year with a surfeit of accomplishments across digital platforms. The brand’s 2016 Super Bowl commercial generated over 15 million views – more than any other Index brand video – and its site receives a high percentage of total traffic, thanks to sophisticated features like a product locator segmented by activity (i.e. “night in” or “night out”).
Digital IQ: 150
Budweiser also held onto its spot, maintaining the top U.S. Instagram account and most-viewed YouTube channel in the Index. On Instagram, the brand gained 100,000 followers in the past year, and on YouTube it garnered 60 million views from more than 200 videos.
3. Samuel Adams
Digital IQ: 148
Samuel Adams scores its Genius ranking thanks to its playful site, where users can set up tasting menus or scroll through tasting notes and videos. The brand also sends personalized emails packed with links to content.
4. Stella Artois
Digital IQ: 147
Thanks to its competitive SEM strategy, Stella Artois sees elevated search performance. The brand also racks up other accomplishments: its U.S. YouTube channel produced the second most-viewed video in the Index, and it appears frequently as a featured product on Minibar thanks to heavy investment in the delivery service.
5. New Belgium
Digital IQ: 146
New Belgium offers one of the best mobile site experiences in the Index, featuring intuitive navigation, detailed product pages, and extensive video content. The brand is also strong on social media, publishing frequent posts that link to brewery news or special offers.
Digital IQ: 138
Guinness hovers on the cusp of Genius, having seen major traffic growth in the past year thanks to substantial investment in search ads. The brand invested heavily in category and brand SEM for terms like “dark beer,” ran the third-highest number of ad campaigns in the Index, and sponsored native content on BuzzFeed.
7. Goose Island
Digital IQ: 137
Goose Island is the second-most frequent poster on Instagram, earning the fourth-highest number of interactions on the platform. The brand was also an early adopter of Snapchat and boasts innovative site features including a virtual reality video of a hop farm.
8. Miller Lite
Digital IQ: 136
Miller Lite enjoys robust social performance across platforms. Its Twitter account garners the highest absolute engagement, and the brand also has the second-fastest growing fanbase on Instagram, with 725% annual growth in followers.
9. Coors Light
Digital IQ: 134
With huge reach across multiple platforms, Coors Light achieves the third-largest Facebook community with three million followers. The brand also sponsors native ads on BuzzFeed and earns the most display ad impressions in the Index.
10. Sierra Nevada
Digital IQ: 131
Sierra Nevada surged from Average to Gifted thanks to SEO and SEM investments, leading to elevated web authority for the brand site. The brand also benefits from its unique email newsletter – a channel ignored by most of its peers.