Wine & New Media:A bloggers perspective TheaDwelle Luscious Lushes Wine Blog
The world is changing! We are becoming mobile, and we are changing the way we communicate witheach other. Do you text before you call? Do you tweet before you email?As evidence of this shift in communication methodologies, today, over 75% of individuals (in the US)belong to at least one social network. Keeping in mind that social networks can be both professional, andpurely social, or some combination of each, you are opening up a widely paved path to communication.With word of mouth marketing being the single most influential driver of purchasing, that’s a huge datamine.One critical factor in new media is mobile media and the use of the smart phone. One source estimatesthat of mobile phone owners, 1 in 2 will own a smart phone by the end of 2011. Currently, over 1 millioniPads have been sold in the US. Not counting alternative smart tablets, like the wifi enabled Kindle orNook, this is market is becoming more and more savvy and requires access to data on these devices.Users can read, edit, update and participate in social media from ANYWHERE - 30000 feet, on a boat, in awine cellar. This emergence of “anywhere” technology means that your customers are accessinginformation 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are seeking meaningful content during these times.
What is new media?Wikipedia defines “new media” as a catch all term meant to include the emerging methods of digital,computerized, or networked information and communication techniques and technologies. Most often, thesetechnologies are digital.What does that really mean? We’re talking about Facebook, Twitter, social networks like Wine 2.0, FohBoh(formerly OpenWineConsortium), Linked in, and the wine blog. These can also include sources such as photosharing services like Flickr, and streaming media sources like YouTube.We are, at present, witnessing the fundamental shift in how we communicate. this has been on the move forthe last 5 years, and we are just at the cusp of these emerging technologies and methodologies.Smart Phones, videos, wine blogs, oh my! Advances in technology and blogging tools have made the wineworld and open dialogue for wine lovers and related businesses everywhere.Blogging in all forms is viral marketing at an extreme. The classic marketing statement still holds true: If I likesomething I will tell 10 friends who will each tell 10 friends, etc. However, if I have a negative experience ordislike something, that negative viral effect is even more impactful.How do producers, tour operators, application developers and writers relate to each other and communicate?Join me to have a discussion on one blogger’s perspective on how I navigate the winding road of blogging andnew media.Every product is a potential conversation waiting to happen; with over 200000 active wine blogs out there,that’s a lot of conversations! Collectively, wine bloggers have more readers than Wine Spectator.
So, what does it mean for the wine industry?Is it important and effective for increasing your consumer base and increasing revenue (are you sellingmore bottles of wine)?The answer is maybe, and it all depends on you.These channels of communication are only a portal for you to share your message. But they are importantportals. They allow you to communicate with potential consumers in ways you may not have consideredpreviously.Whichever method or methods you chose to utilize, it’s important to remember the core basics: •Engage your readers – bring interesting stories and thoughts and discussions to the table. •Cover what won’t be covered somewhere else – be unique and be interesting! No one wants to read the same thing 4 different times. •Build a solid and returning fan base •Listen to your customers – Engage them in your conversations. Don’t talk AT us, talk WITH us! •Be authentic – it’s ok if you’re not perfect, we arent’ either. We want to see the REAL you.
Twitter is one of the fastest growing channels in the social media domain. Businesses from mom and popshops to world wide brands like Nike utilize twitter to embrace and enhance their brand image.Twitter is about building relationships. If you embark on a twitter adventure, be sure that you are able toengaged with your followers in a meaningful way.What does this mean? This means you will need to spend a significant amount of time reacting andinteracting with your followers. Companies and personalities that are successful on twitter activelyengage the consumer and begin conversations. Host a Q&A with a winemaker. Host a discussion aboutthe region you offer tours in.One such successful business is Twitter Taste Live. Spawned as an offshoot of a wine retailer, TTL activelyengages bloggers and consumers by offering scheduled, themed twitter based conversations regardingspecific products. Another example is #VinQ, which is run by @Enobytes, a Pacific Northwest organizationdedicated to the education of consumers about wine. This weekly twitter based quiz allows people fromall over the world to learn and respond to specifically targeted questions regarding wine, in a fun, informalmethod.Remember, Twitter is about conversation, and engaging your followers. If you tweet WITH them they willcome; tweet AT them, and they will unfollow and possibly speak negatively of your online presence,something you really don’t want to encourage. As it is a conversation, please refrain from schedulingtweets and auto-messaging followers. This is a deterrent, since it defeats the purpose of Twitter being atwo-way conversation.
Facebook is perhaps the easiest social media outlet to become involved in. Here, you can create a pagefor your company, and introduce it to people you know. In turn, people that “Like” your page, canrecommend it to their friends, thereby creating the viral marketing that is so powerful. Facebook, likeother social media outlets, is inherently viral. It is an opt-in marketing tool, where people choose to Likeyour page, and then choose to tell their friends about your page.If you create a page on Facebook, Be sure that you are actively engaging with your audience on yourpage. you will need to spend a bit of time posting short, meaningful content pieces that people will beinterested in reading. this in turn, will encourage your readers to repost this content to their readers.I also encourage you to have Facebook related contests and deals. Have a prize for your one thousandth“like” on Facebook, or offer an extra percent off coupon for your Facebook followers.lurbs.
In contrast, Twitter tends to be more personal than Facebook and requires you to have someone thatwill interact with your followers. Posting meaningful content that is unique for your Facebook andTwitter audience is key. You should NOT simply repost your Facebook or blog content on twitter. It’s okto cross post links to blog posts or your website, but there should be some unique content from bothareanas.You will have a cross segment of followers on both platforms, but more so, you will have uniquefollowers on each platform. Part of the fun of social media is that you can create unique content toencourage followers in each space.Twitter is an excellent resource to promote your blog. It is also an excellent resource to promote minireviews of your brand. In the case of wine, bloggers and wine lovers often post mini reviews ontwitter. Using tools to search for your brand mentions can greatly impact your marketingmessage. With these search tools, you can rewet, quote, and repost valuable marketing b
What about video content?Video content can be an important component in your new & social media strategy. Increasingly, videocontent draws viewsers from across a braoder market segment.Some successful business that have added video from the wine industry include Gary Vaynerchuck fromWine Library, where video is the mainstay of his blog.Whne you think about adding video to you program, it is important to have the expertise to productclear, conscise, quality material rather than home grown efforts. This will reflect on your brand.In the wine business, some ideas for video content include –Discussions with the winemaker –Harvest videos –Virtual tours –Interactive video such as real time Q&A and wine tastings
Keeping Track of it AllRegardless of how you choose to communicate your message, it is essential that you know your audience!The core of any new media program is to communicate with your audience.This doesn’t mean that you have to have a complete and full demographic profile on hand to refer to, but youshould have a basic idea of who your target audience is and who you are trying to attract.In order to have a real-time knowledge of what bloggers, as well as other people on the internet are sayingabout your product, brand, or wine, setup Google Alerts. This is a simple, easy process that is and extremelypowerful tool that lets your know when your name comes up.If you open the communication early, you will already know when blogger, as well as consumers on the web –using services like CellarTracker and other wine sites, sare talking about you.Use search engines on a regular basis to search for your name. This will give you a bigger picture of what isgoing on. –Social networks like friendfeed and StumbleUpon are aggregators that take material from many sources and make it public to a personal network. This can be a great resource to spread the message about your brand. –Finding trends and tracking back to them is the key to successful measurements of ROI. You can, and should, track referneces to your site, including mentions on Facebook and Twitter. –Track the use of hastage (#hastags) that mention your brand -use coupon codes to promote your business through bloggers –Use affilliate tracking to track sales from various sites
Be ConsistantConsistent branding is essential. Your message should be clear, across all social media platforms aswell as your traditional marketing materials.Think of international brands such as Nike and Coke. Even though they have progressed through theyears, the brand images and core messages are still the same.Coke is it. Just do it. These messages have been consistent through the years giving these brands acore identity that is internationally recognizeable today.By buyilding your brand, selling more tours or wine, you will increase your customer base long term.As wine is a long tail business, building a lo9yal customer today will be a long term relationshiptomrrow.Using these new media tools can help you do this indirectly, by building loyal followers who areinterested in your brand. Blogging, social media platforms, and social networks help you outsourceyour PR and marketing to a database of bloggers who can and will build your brand by word ofmouth. For free.
Should YOUR business blog?Not every wine business should blog. Sometimes it’s not appropriate. Additionally, it’s important to blogregularly, whether that’s is once a week or once a month. Blogs are an excellent source of information fora wider audience, and you have a powerful tool to keep people updated instantly.You can start your blogging efforts with an update on the harvest, or your most recent tour offerings. Doyou have a mailing list? Invite them to view your blog. If these people enjoy your efforts, they are likelyto share it with their friends.And overall social media strategy is more important than a blog. new media will give you more exposure,word of mouth exposure, virual marketing, and new fans. Your message must be relevant. Spam is justspam, no matter what format it’s in.Don’t expect an immediate payoff. wine is a long tail business, and social meida is a long talecommunication technique.
How can I get bloggers to talk about us?Bloggers are not such a picky bunch, but we would like to have some access that thegeneral public does not have access to. •If you are a tour operator, perhaps offering a local blogger a sample day trip to write about. •Wine producers should allow bloggers to become familiar with thier products by offering targeted samples. •.Travel agents can offer bloggers who specialize n a particalr region more information.Make the experience personal. The best experiences a blogger has is the one that youmake unique for them.Know your audience. Regardless of the type of blogger or media that you are workingwith, you need to know your audience. Target your media list accordingly. More on that inthe next discussion point.Spread the word - communicate and communicate wisely. Decide what your channels of
Working with Bloggers - It’s a two way street!Wine producers should not be afraid of bloggers and other media representatives. While some mayworry that we might paint them in a negative light, by putting your best foot forward, you give a newaudience an opportunity to taste your wines at that own pace and formulate their own opinions. Mypersonally developing relationships with bloggers, you can determine who would best be served bydiscussing your wines, and who might not be the right demographic.Bloggers do not like being talked AT. We want to talk WITH you. The vast majority of wine bloggers inparticular, and bloggers in general, do it for the passion about the subject matter, not because it’s ourvocation.It’s important to open the discussion and actively participate in the community. While thisdoesn’t have to be a full time enterprise, you do need to dedicate some time to communicating in yourchosen channel.Make your writing interesting! We want to hear about your business, and how it impacts us. It is lessinteresting to hear the same harvest report in a general sense, than it is to hear the specifics of whathappened in your vineyard, or what tour you led during the season and why others would enjoy it.Bloggers and the wine industry must work together. This is not a one way street! Find your voice andtalk to usBe creative, and be involved. It is not the best approach to blindly send emails or sample bottles of wineif you don’t know your audience. Take the time to review the blogs that you are approaching. You don’twant to send a sample of a dry white wine to a blogger who only does big reds for California, as thatwould not be focusing your efforts on the right demographic.
Choose your blogger audience wisely. Do you produce wine from a specific region? Doyou offer tours in an area of interest? It is important to know who you want to talk aboutyour business.A blogger who writes about cosmetics would not be the appropriate audience for a post ona tour operator in Porto.Likewise, a blogger who focuses on wines under $10 or a small region in California, such asSonoma, would not be a good audience for your wine if you produce $50 wines fromAustralia.What am I getting at? Know who you are communicating with! The most successful presssamples are sent with thought and care. Reach out to your list and ask if they areinterested in writing about your business. Doing this prevents unwanted spam andsolicitation, and also opens the doors of communication early. For winemakers, it alsoprevents the loss of wine to a blogger who may never taste it because it is outside of thescope of their business.Take a risk and host a blogger event. Many regions get a bubble of coverage during theseevents and are trending topics on social media sites. This can add exposure to yourbusiness in a very short time period. These events may be a lunch at your winery, a sampletour that you might offer, or a week visiting a region that you represent. Theseopportunities allow bloggers to learn about your products in a personalized manner, wherethey know that they will have access to the information they need without trying tocompete for attention.Bloggers offer viral and virtual marketing. Allowing us to enter your family, howevertemporarily, gives us access to information that we can share with our readers that theymight not necessary know.
What?! They didn’t like me?Don’t take it personally if we don’t like, or don’t write about your wine or product.Wine bloggers in particular often have sample policies posted on their sites for yourreview, prior to sending out information or product. Again, an introduction emailwill let you know if we are interested in talking about your product.If, by chance, we don’t like a product and we do write that, don’t be offended. Weare only offering our opinion. It also a critical time for you to reach out to discusswith us WHY we didn’t enjoy the product.It may be a matter of personal taste, or on rare occasions, with wine – it may be anoff bottle.If there was an issue with another product or tour for example, this is youropportunity to reach out and correct it, thereby allowing us to write a follow pieceon how you handled the issue.Having personal experienced one issue while tasting at a winery, my previouslyterrible experienced was turned around by a few emails and a follow up visit.Again, this goes back to communication.