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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Social Media -- It's All the Craze

Wine is a trendy business.

It's no secret the retail and travel businesses are bad shape.  Most wineries are down significantly in sales though things seem to be picking up in the last half of 2010.

How can they get new customers?  With so many winery tasting rooms in the Napa/Sonoma area how do you get people to stop by yours?  Do you use traditional advertising, blogging, twitter, Facebook, etc?  Well, with the trendiness of the wine business you can guess where all the buzz is happening.

When I watch TV, read a magazine, or view most Internet sites there is advertising.  I pretty much choose to ignore all of it. (Thank God for the TV remote control).

So why would I want to go to a company's blog/twitter/Facebook page to pull in their ads? I have no idea. What I see many wineries doing is getting someone with a marketing background to do their blog/twitter/Facebook and try not to make it look too much like in-your-face advertising. This is a fine line to walk--keeping people interested while pushing your product.

I believe traditional advertising via social media is the wrong way. If I'm already interested enough to look you up on Facebook don't try to sell me. (Do you hear that Verizon and Dish TV)? Just feed stuff that's of interest to someone who already likes your wine. You are keeping me interested; maybe you are closing the deal.

The greatest blog or tweet would be from winemakers during harvest. Wouldn't that be cool to follow along with their daily activities? Do you think they really have the time even if they have the aptitude to do this?

It would be fun to hear what's going on in the vineyards with posts like, "Our first bud break on our hillside Cabernet!" or even "We're two weeks later pruning then we'd like to be." Customers are a lot more interested in what the vineyard or cellar folks have to say than some marketing hack.

I was just reading about one interesting thing that is popping up now.  You can pick up discount coupons just before entering the winery via your iPhone-type device. Slick idea! Only issue I had with the article was this type of advertising was being touted by a "social marketing consultant" so I wonder if there's really a pay off? As that's a really narrow section of customers.

I checked out a winery's blog that's been getting a bit of publicity. The first entry was about a meal pairing a BBQ'ed meat with their Cab Franc. So far so good except there was one sentence about the food and several paragraphs about why I should buy this great Cab Franc. It was such an obvious sell job I left the site and didn't read any more. Instead how about something like, "I had our '07 Cab Franc with braised ribs last night. What a great pairing with the strawberry flavors and spices of the wine with the BBQ sauce I made. Recipe follows:"    That is what I need to convince me to buy the wine, not a blatant sales pitch.

There are lots of new experts in the social media field telling wineries what to do.  I don't know how many of these "experts" really know anything.   If I was hiring for this job I think I'd want someone with an even split between wine growing/wine making knowledge, journalism, marketing, and graphics design. I don't know where you find someone like that.

Some thoughts:
  • Blogging:  There are a number of winery websites with a blog link with no or maybe one entry then they've given up.  What the hell are you thinking?  Blog at least weekly or remove the link! If you're going have an active blog, and you should, you need a plan and someone with time to do this.
  • Facebook:  Give me a reason to want to visit your winery or your website.  But don't try to sell me something with your FB entry.
  • Twitter:  It's short and fast by nature.  Be careful what you say.  Think before you post!
Whatever you decide to do you must commit time to remain active.  Yes, social media is cheap advertising, except for the labor side.

Like I said, as a consumer I want interesting things about the vineyards and cellar, and maybe an occasional online coupon. You know, give me a reason to follow your site.

I have a couple wineries I follow on Facebook because I'm already a fan of their wines.   There is some maturing to be done in the social media biz.

If you can't beat 'em Tweet 'em.