OK, so anyone who is connected up with any measure of social media these days and also cares about wine is seeing a lot of chatter. All sorts of virtual events, TweetUps, reviews flying fast & furious, Facebook Like links everywhere, wineries schlepping for followers and the list goes on.
You may also be seeing lots of links being shared about how social media is changing the game and getting on board as a must do for wineries, distributors, stores, event promoters, bloggers, etc. What sense should be made of all of this?
First off, the only new things here are the communications technologies. The concepts around identifying a market, engaging that market, converting the associations into value and retaining the relationships are well heeled and something all B-School grads should be able to go off on a mile a minute. Not new, not game changing. Myth dispelled. Now to the real work.
That said, the advice is simple and clear. Add social media to your overall marketing plan, assuming you have one and if you don't; build one, to both cover the segment of your market that isn't old-school media focused AND to benefit from what the new technologies offer. At the end of the day no matter what method you use, engaging your customer will still be about getting their product or service into their hands. The true strength of any relationship is still going to involve one on one contact. Social media technologies help promote face time at events better than e-mail, the phone and flyers do. These technologies have the viral component as well, which might be a curse if your events have limits on attendance!
Twitter and Facebook have membership, but you still need to understand who you are targeting, why you are targeting them and what the specific message is. Your audience is still going to have stratifications requiring different messages and different methods of contact and relationship management. Social media also lets you watch your competition even more. Do that. See what they are doing well and determine for yourself if you think it would also work for you. Once again, not a new concept, just an old one made easier.
I have a day job, but I'm a food and wine blogger after hours. My marketing plan is fast and loose, but includes social media. I host wine tastings at my house as a way to engage my audience to share my wine-making and food & wine pairing knowledge with them. Where is all of this going? I surely don't know yet, but I can tell you one thing. I have lots of peers doing lots similar things and connecting with them (and keeping an eye on them) is all part of the game.
Here are some recent links that came by that reinforce what I have observed and how all of this boils down to core business strategies for marketing and customer relations.
**VinTank Social Media Report - Nicely researched paper from May 2009
**Bakas Media - this guy has the chops and some good data.
The ROI of Social Media in the Wine Industry (pt. 1 of 2) - http://bakasmedia.com/?p=47
The ROI of Social Media in the Wine Industry (pt. 2 of 2) - http://bakasmedia.com/?p=72
**HubSpot - this isn't about wine specifically, but the title says it all!
Why Social Media is BS! - http://ht.ly/33MTb (There is a webinar on Nov. 5th if interested)
** New Yorker Article about Gary V - always gets a conversation going!
** Steve Heimoff (Wine Enthusiast write) - Not a fan of Social Media & wine
**VinTank Report on Wine Apps for the iPhone - big topic these days
You are spot on about social media. It isn't anything new, just a new way of doing what businesses have always done. Business has always been about engaging with your customers and forming connections that will encourage people to buy your products and/or services. The thing that people in the wine industry need to understand is how to leverage the new technologies effectively.
I work in the device/pharmaceutical industry and the exact same discussions are going on there except that we have to contend with government regulations regarding what we say (regardless of the technology).
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