Strange Brew Coffehouse connects with customers on Social Media

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Strange Brew Coffeehouse owner Shane Reed carries two cell phones on different networks just to be sure he’ll always have access to his Twitter account.
“I’m kind of addicted,” he said.
Reed tweets as @sbcoffeehouse and is prolific on the social media site that sends out updates in 140 characters or less. He’s earned a cult following from people who look to his feed for quirky movie quotes, Mississippi State University sports trivia or his latest coffee creation (Bacon & Caramel Frappe and Girl Scout Cookie Frappes).
He was the first coffee shop to sell coffee via Twitter. And, he’s been retweeted by @Jack, a co-founder of Twitter.
“It blows my mind,” he said. “I’m just some idiot on Twitter.”
Other businesses are looking to the 35-year-old MSU grad as an example of what good social media looks like. Reed speaks to classes and at workshops. He also advises other businesses about their social media properties.
He gets asked for help so much that he decided to start Social Brew (@SBsocialbrew), a consulting group that helps businesses be better on social media.
“I just want small business to know that they don’t have to be scared,” he said. “Your business is being talked about. Don’t you want to be part of the conversation?”
Reed was an early user of Facebook and Twitter. He’s been on both for years.
“The reason I got on Twitter was to get in touch with customers,” he said. “If you own the business, you can’t be behind the counter all the time. That’s the part I love and Twitter puts me back in that.”
And his efforts are paying off. Last month, Dustin McCallum (@dhm1127), Matt Dorroh (@MattDorroh) and David McLaurin (@davidomclaurin) were all patronizing Strange Brew.
“I wouldn’t have known he’s brewing Girl Scout Cookie Frappe if I wasn’t following him,” McLaurin said.
To test his effectiveness, Reed cut out all paid advertising in 2011, relying only on social media and word of mouth to get his message out.
His audience: 5,700 on Twitter; 1,100 “likes” on Facebook; 3,940 followers on Instagram; and 420 followers on Pinterest.
Business increased 32 percent, he said, acknowledging that other factors may have contributed to the increase as well.
“Instead of making a commercial, we were able to give stuff away to our customers,” he said.
New products sold faster than ever before, he said.
The medium isn’t for everyone, but Reed said it’s working for him.
“You have to love it or you’re not going to enjoy it,” he said. “You can’t force it. Just have fun with it. Get your culture out there.”

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