Winter 2020 | Volume 01


Written by Madeleine Schmoll,
Social Engagement Manager, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Media Academy 2018

The future of social media is community building. We’ve all heard different parts of this narrative – from Facebook’s keynote last year about cultivating meaningful connections, to the need to embrace dark social to build brand loyalty.

As users, we’re sharing more content than ever, but as new features like Instagram threads show, we’re being very picky about who we’re sharing it with.

Social has always been about network. As a brand, how often do you focus on bringing your community together? Do you remember the Facebook of the early 00s? The version when you had to be a student with a university email address?

It was messy, but it was about getting everyone together in connected micro-communities.

So how do you build a community in today’s social landscape? That’s the question I was asked just before I joined the Scotch Malt Whisky Society nine months ago as Social Engagement Manager.

If you haven’t heard of us, the Society is an international members club that releases 20 + single cask whiskies each month. We’re based in Edinburgh, but we have members all around the world in Europe, Australia, the US, China and Japan – just to name a few! Here’s how we approach community building.

Embrace the unconventional

As much as building a social community is about using social listening tools and analytics, one of the best things we can do is talk to our members in person. Taking your conversation offline opens new opportunities beyond the screen.

As important as it is to capture what’s happening at an event for social, it’s equally crucial to take time offline at that event to be the boots on the ground.

Be adventurous

How do you unite your communities? For us, the idea of sharing is one of the key ways we connect with our members. On paper, a virtual tasting across the world with everyone drinking the same whiskies might seem risky, but it’s something that’s worked for us. You don’t know until you try.

Have fun

To create a community, you need to participate. Who links your communities? Are you talking to them? More importantly, are you listening to what they’re saying? One of our American members came up with a hashtag that he used every time a certain flavour profile was released.

When we launched Instagram stickers, we created the hashtag as a sticker, just for fun. As much as building a community is about achieving business goals, not everything has to have a measurable outcome. Sometimes, it just needs to be fun.