How cocktails became the new food videos

Move over, rainbow bagels. The internet may be bingeing on quick recipe videos and hardcore food porn. But cocktails are fast becoming the next digital publishing obsession.

Thrillist Media Group just launched Supercall, a vertical site, optimized for Facebook, focused on drinks. Sponsored by Diageo, it will focus on drink recipes aimed at its young male readership. Supercall comes on the heels of Now This Booze, a new Facebook page from social video publisher NowThis, featuring booze-themed videos like one of a robot pouring vodka shots and how-to recipes for drinks like frozen daiquiri. Earlier this year, BuzzFeed’s popular Facebook page, Tasty, spun off Tasty Happy Hour, a Pinterest page. With more than 95,000 followers, the page is filled with colorful alcoholic concoctions like peach iced tea whiskey and cherry Moscow Mule. Thirsty yet?

Hayden Lynch, creative director for Thrillist Media Group’s CoLab, said the company noticed an interest in alcoholic drinks in general. But modern publishing means paying as much attention to distributing content as to the content itself. Specifically, publishers have to optimize to Facebook to reach an audience, and particularly Facebook video. And it turns out that cocktails, like food, are well suited to the 30-second, sound-off, instructional videos Facebook is pushing in users’ news feeds.

For Thrillist, Supercall is part of a larger push into video by the company. “There’s a creation aspect to it,” Lynch said of the appeal of cocktail videos. “When you get a lot of colors mixing together, people have the same kind of visceral reaction to it.” The ideal videos for Thrillist so far has been ones that combine fun, eye-catching and nostalgia, like this one of an adult Capri Sun, which has gotten 36 million views.

NowThis president Athan Stephanopoulos said for NowThis’ part, the company skipped food altogether and went straight for the hard stuff when it launched NowThis Booze a few months ago. The page now has more than 140,000 followers.

“We looked at the landscape and saw it was becoming a crowded space around food so it didn’t make sense to jump into a space that was already getting a lot of attention,” he said. “We thought, here’s another thing our younger audience loves. It was an opportunity to bring a similar but different type of approach to something that would resonate with our audience.”

It’s also content that resonates with marketers. NowThis has already done two videos with liquor advertisers, one with Bacardi and another with Tequila Cazadores.

As with food before it, there’s always the risk that cocktail videos will reach a saturation point or that they’ll fall out of favor with Facebook. Publishers have already seen time and time again how they’ve built editorial strategies around Facebook, only to be caught flat-footed when the social network changes its algorithm to favor a different type of content or format.

One approach is to make sure your videos don’t look like everyone else’s. One way NowThis is doing that is by naming some of its cocktails for candidates like this one for Donald Trump’s Amaretto Sour (“Make Amaretto great again”).

At Supercall, most of the video will be of the 30-second, Facebook-focused type to start with. Still, Lynch said he’s mindful of the need to diversify beyond 30-second videos to stay current with what Facebook wants, like longer live video, and other traffic sources like search.

“Right now, Facebook is saying, do a lot of 30-second videos, 60-second videos,” he said. “There’s going to be so many ways to treat video on Facebook alone, with live, 360. It’s incumbent on us to figure out what is interesting about drinks for 60 minutes. Because I don’t think the [30-second video] is the future.”

Images courtesy of Thrillist Media Group.

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