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Craft Brewer Has 50 Million Reasons to ‘Like’ Its Facebook Fans

In this age of Facebook and Twitter, capitalizing on new media is both an opportunity and a conundrum for many companies. Social media can be a great way to connect and stay top-of-mind with consumers, but how can you really quantify what a “like” on Facebook is worth?

This is a question the country’s No. 3 craft brewer recently set out to answer, and it now says it’s determined what its Facebook fans mean to its bottom line.

A sign with the 'like' symbol stands in front of the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
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A sign with the 'like' symbol stands in front of the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

According to Ad Age, Colorado's New Belgium Brewing recently commissioned a survey of its Facebook followers in which it determined the average New Belgium Facebook fan spends $260 per year on the brand. That translates to $50.7 million annually — or roughly half the brewery’s sales each year.

Not a bad return on what New Belgium tells Ad Age was a $235,000 investment it made on its social-media presence last year “mostly dedicated to Facebook, including both app development and advertising.”

This year New Belgium is planning on upping the ante. They’re rolling out a new beer in April and have set aside $1 million towards the launch, with almost 20 percent set aside for digital and social media.

New Belgium has a total of 400,000 Facebook fans across all of its Facebook pages. In terms of just the main page, New Belgium, it has managed to best the larger craft brewers with 211,000 fans. Not bad for a brew that is available only in 28 states and Washington, D.C.

It's fan base compares with 138,000 for Boston Beer’s Sam Adams, and 134,000 for Sierra Nevada, both of which have national distribution.

While New Belgium may be tops in the number of main page Facebook fans, its not alone in using Facebook to connect with its fans. Last month Boston Beer released the “Crowd Craft Project” Facebook app, which lets fans choose a beer’s characteristics: color, clarity, body, hops and malt. The most popular attributes will be used to brew a Sam Adams-branded “collaborative ale,” which will debut at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas, in March.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com. Follow Tom Rotunno on Twitter @tomrotunno.

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