jamie goode's wine blog: Social media - let's not over-sell it

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Social media - let's not over-sell it

You can't go to a big tasting these days without someone plugging social media.

Now don't get me wrong: I'm a huge fan of Twitter and Facebook (and of course blogging, if that counts - I was one of the first wine bloggers in the UK, starting in 2001), and I think you are borderline nuts if you don't use these incredibly useful communication tools.

But I worry that social media is being over-sold to the UK wine trade, most of whom are still trying to get to grips with the internet itself.

Although it may seem to those of us on Twitter and Facebook that we are at the centre of the universe and that the whole world is watching, that simply isn't true.

If you are in the business of selling wine, don't expect social media to save you. [Yet.] Most of your potential customers aren't there. They won't be listening.

I think this will change in the future, however. But it may take five or ten years.

And the other thing to remember is that these are just tools, and tools can be used well or badly. I worry that wine companies will rush to social media, do it clumsily, find it has no effect, and then abandon it. A measured approach is called for, and I reckon that unless you have someone who is prepared to learn (and understand) the medium, and who is a gifted communicator, then perhaps now is not the right time for your company.

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At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Richard said...

Jaimie .. not sure I fully agree about the number of prospective customers using SM - there are more and more every day. I recently did some research on both Twitter and Facebook (www.viralvines.com), and followed both up with a survey of the top 50 wineries on each - just about all felt they were reaping benefits from their efforts.

However, other than that I completely agree with you:
1. Social media is not going to save a sinking ship. It is simply another effective marketing tool that needs to be part of the overall marketing plan and strategy.

2. Although it is very low cost, it is quite different from other marketing campaigns that are planned and executed as a single activity. Rather, SM/networking is more of a "get rich slowly" activity that requires a continual and very importantly, sincere effort to connect and communicate with current and prospective customers.

Thanks for the post - you are right as well that it would be a shame if wineries decided to try SM and then dropped it because that don't fully understand how to approach or implement.

At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Spiltwine said...

I would count blogging as a form of SM Jamie, so you are def in the loop, and you’ve given some good points here.
There is a slight fear of SM within the UK wine trade and it’s mostly due to misunderstanding (and a bit of ignorance). And you are right in saying most of the trade needs to get to grips with the internet first.
I was explaining “twitpics” to a trade member and the idea that you can have a direct communication with the very people you want to sell wine too with not only a 140 characters but a bottle shot too…the response –“Shouldn’t the followers be working during the day?” Very frustrating as they just don’t get it!
A lot of people still see SM as a toy and excuse to mess around during the working day. They are told you can market through SM but then they use the old school advertising techniques which verge on spam…
The wine trade is digitally behind the time and the way generics and agents alike are taking up SM (except a very small percentage who know how to use it) I don’t think you are far off with your abandonment prediction.

It's a shame really.


At 5:22 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Jaime- Nice post. As someone working in wine marketing in the U.S., I think your point (as well as Richard's comments) are just as valid here. For us, we are sure SM has great potential value and have been taking tentative steps to integrate SM into our presence. Our biggest fears are making sure we are being authentic and that we actually have something of value to say. An unfortunate side effect is that we have often found ourselves sitting on the edge of the pool afraid to jump into the deep end. Hopefully we will find our nerve sooner rather than later. No matter what though, Richard hit the nail on the head- for the people who do SM right, it will be a "get rich slowly" asset that enhances a product or offering that already has some real value.


At 7:35 PM, Anonymous DHM said...

If you're going to talk about wine, review it, discuss the grapes, the country it was grown in, the soil...the blog is the best format, such as this site.

How can you do that w/ 140 characters on Twitter (well, perhaps some people could)?

It's interesting too when you combine media, such as videos and blogs. I just saw a great review of a California Cabernet by a young guy, Chris Riccobono, at pardonthatvine.com

Really relaxed, to the point, and totally non-stuffy. That's a great use of social media.

At 2:08 AM, Anonymous ChrisO said...

Nice post! However I do not entirely agree. I think it very important for people in the wine trade to be active in social media, because increasingly it is where the dialog about wine is taking place. For a company it is a powerful thing to be able to communicate with customers, of today and tomorrow, where they like to spend their time. SM is not the end all be all for sure, but it is a VERY cost effective way to engage your consumers and measure the results. I HIGHLY recommend that you read the book by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith entitled "Trust Agents" for it nicely lays out why every industry should consider social media as important for doing business now and in the future. Social media is a sea change for marketing and PR that requires authenticity and trust.

It is easier to be on the train when it leaves the station then try and run and catch it once it is already under way.


At 5:09 AM, Blogger Josh said...

Thanks for the interesting article. Someone twittered the article and I followed the link. I love Social Media the changes that are going to take place not only for the wine industry, but every industry will be big. Paradigms will be shattered and institutions will not function as well as the organized whole. I 100% agree that SM is not the quick road to success, but that it will be the most effective way to engage your customers, let them know about events and for wineries to get instant feedback about their wines, winery, and events. Lastly Chris Brogan and Julien Smith's book "Trust Agents" along with Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff's "Groundswell" are a great start for anyone who is trying to understand the principles behind the Social Media movement.

Check out BestHouseWine.com if you get a chance, my little project ;)


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