In recent years, New York vlogger (short for video blogger) Casey Neistat has emerged as a global YouTube celebrity. His highly creative and risk-taking videos have generated a very respectable follower base of 6.5 million subscribers. In 2016, his account was one of YouTube’s fastest growing. Neistat makes a living through his daily videos and paid partnerships with some of the world’s richest brands such as NikeSamsung or Mercedes. So, how did the Blue Point Brewery*, a small Long Island (NY) company with less than 40 employees, manage to get him on board as well? And – most importantly – what can organisations learn from this?

I spoke with the communications team at Blue Point Brewery. It all started with a Saturday jog.

In the early morning of Saturday, January 14th, Casey and his brother Dean, drove from New York City to Long Island to take part in a 10 mile run organised by the Blue Point Brewery. Casey’s objective was clear: create a new video celebrating his renewed focus on staying healthy in middle age. It is important to note that Neistat was not registered for the race, the brewery could not have planned what follows. By the end of the race, one major issue emerged for Neistat. This turned out to be the dream opportunity for Blue Point Brewery. Neistat had brought his brother so he could film his arrival on the finish line. However, Dean, who was seeking shelter to avoid the cold January weather, was unable to capture the moment. But this did not prevent the YouTuber from publishing a video the next day in which he made fun of his brother for failing to complete his only job of the day.

This is when the communications team of Blue Point Brewery stepped in and where any company or brand can learn valuable lessons.

Within just 24 hours following the publication of Neistat’s video, the small communications team of three went out of their way to capture this unique opportunity. They brainstormed on Sunday and, on Monday, shot a short video in the same funny and irreverent style as Neistat’s. They even managed to tweet a picture of him crossing the finish line and awarded him boxes of their beers for the “Fastest Unregistered Runner”.

 “The results exceeded all our expectations”, says Debbie Yoon, Brand Manager for the brewery. “With this small action, we were able to leverage exposure and reach a wider audience who did not know about the company before. We knew Casey’s fans would appreciate the topical, outlandish humor of our brand. This was our chance to gain followers even if they weren’t necessarily beer fans. We gave Casey’s followers a reason to believe in our brand.

A large part of this success is due to the fact that the tweets were written so that Casey Neistat played along by retweeting and commenting on the Brewery’s content for his 1 million Twitter followers.

Despite no budget for the promotion of the video, tweets and posts, the company achieved astounding results:
  • The brewery’s Twitter impressions grew by 41.4% during that month
  • The 3 tweets about Casey Neistat earned a combined engagement of 154.700
  • The total change in followers was 150% higher than during the previous month
  • The engagement for tweets mentioning Casey Neistat was 206% higher compared to the average engagement of other tweets
  • Casey Neistat’s answers to the tweets alone generated more than 550 retweets and 10.000 likes on his own Twitter page

But the communications team saw more impressive results: “This action temporarily tripled our share of voice in the small market of craft beer on social media. Not only did we gain increased awareness but, more importantly, we gained positive sentiment and showed our followers that we’re listening,” says Yoon.

 This case clearly demonstrates how organisations, no matter their size, can successfully engage with influencers. Here are the 5 key takeaways for companies and brands:
  • Be focused – Systematically and regularly monitor the topics that matter to you and your audiences, on the right channels. Without this first step, the brewery would have never spotted Neistat’s video in the first place.
  • Be timely – When you see an opportunity, think and act quickly. The Blue Point Brewery put all their content together and online in less than 24 hours.
  • Be relevant – Make sure the influencer’s audiences and tone are a good fit with what you want to achieve. The brewery managed to cast a wider net of young people who now believe and know the brand.
  • Be willing to go the extra mile – Go out of your way to make it happen when it’s worth it. The communications team worked on a Sunday to make sure the opportunity wouldn’t slip before them or be hijacked by someone else.
  • Be open – if you have the possibility, co-create and dialogue with the influencer to produce together what works best for you and the influencer’s audiences.

This success did not emerge from nothing, the brewery already had a very good presence online and a large base of followers. And while this will also increase your chances for success, it is not the only ingredient. Any brand and companies can increase their possibility of tapping into influencers’ audiences by following these few steps.

As for the Brewery, they are already trying to improve on their initial success with one final goal: get Casey Neistat to the Brewery so he can pick up his “Fastest Unregistered Runner” beer gifts.
  * The Blue Point Brewery is not a client.