The importance of being…

As I expand my circle of friends in the wine business, I am often asked what is a wine blog, or what is Twitter, and why should I care.  As I sit here and read the newsletter from one of my favorite wineries, Manzanita Creek, I am struck by the call to action they put forth in the closing paragraph which sums up the most important reason:

Blogging has become and important marketing tool.  It is a win-win for the consumers and wineries.  The consumers gain knowledge and spread the word to other wine lovers with results in sales.  In this economy, we are all struggling.  We need our members support within the bloggersphere!

This in a nutshell is why wineries should blog and engage in new media, why wineries should encourage their patrons to blog, and why bloggers are so powerful.  As a winery or retailer, there are several reasons why you should join the social media revolution.  The first and foremost reason that comes to my mind is that you are missing out on a huge audience that is sitting there waiting to communicate with you.  Social media and online resources are essentially free to you, with the exception of your time.

  • Wine Bloggers are the new way of providing word of mouth marketing .  Anyone who has ever worked in a retail environment, including software sales, knows that WOM marketing is the single most effective way to generate new sales.
  • The new generation of wine drinkers is more media savvy and more wired than ever before.  They are reaching the age of majority in record numbers, and are a mostly untapped market segment.  These are the generation that crosses Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Whatever, born between 1979 and 2002, otherwise known as Millennials.  These consumers aren’t looking to build a cellar or impress their friends.  They want instant gratification and they want gloss.  They are looking for inexpensive but tasty beverages.  They don’t care about Parker, they don’t’ care about shelf talkers.  They are more likely than any other consumer to mak etheir wine purchases based on something written online.  They buy things online in record numbers.
  • We get more of our news online than from any other soruce.  This also pertains ot wine news.  Blogs and e-newsletters are free or next to free tools to spread news and information about your brand to a mass audience easiily
  • Microblogging platforms such as Twitter provide you with a large community of wine bloggers and wine lovers who have formed an online family.  Get ot know a few of them, and they can introduce you to the rest of the wine community.  I liken it to instant messaging a large auidence of like minded people at once.  Twitter is a powerful broadcast media tool and some of the things that I think are great uses of the tool are:
    • Twitter only discounts.  A great example of a retail that does this are The Wine Spies.
    • News & blog post announcements to encourage readers to click through to your website or blog.
    • Participate in online events such as Twitter Taste Live
    • Interaction with consumers with specific questions

Some examaples of good winery Twitterers are:

Additionally, there are literally hundreds of wine bloggers on Twitter.  There is a great list at Wine Twitters. As Michael Wangblicker of Caveman wines wrote,

I use Twitter to connect with wine bloggers, wine enthusiasts, and social media junkies like myself. Recently, I used Twitter and my blog to promote my client’s new harvest intern blog. Along with email, this was a great method of getting the word out. It worked because I am a member of the community and peopl know who I am. Another great application for a microblog would be an online tasting. Bin Ends Wine, an online retailer, conducts monthly “Twitter Taste Live” seminars where a special guest “tweeter” conducts a tasting all over Twitter. I also forsee this working for a winery media tasting.

So what can a winery do to encourage this new media marketing?  COMMUNICATE with the bloggesphere!   There are few key ways that I see this in action:

  • Create Google Alerts to notify your marketing team (or yourself!) when a blogger has written about your winery.  This is a simple and effective tool that emails you when a blogger talks about your winery, effectively giving you free marketing
  • Host Blogger Tasting Forums.  The first of these was held at Hahn Estates recently, and included several bloggers as well as the Hahn team and other winery participants.  This kind of cross dialogue gets people talking.  These are a great opportunity for bloggers and wineries to sit down together, where the host winery is highlighted, and we as bloggers can learn more about your wine while talking to our fellow bloggers and including additional wineries.
  • Participate in a blogger sample program.  Be sure to ask a blogger if they are open to this first, as some bloggers do not wish to receive samples.  This is a very powerful way to get the word out about a new product, which might not be readily accessible.  If you are trying to luanch a mailing list only brand, having a blogger who had 1000 readers a month read about is a huge viral marketing tool.
  • Participate in event s like Twitter Taste Live. Twitter Taste Live is an online tasting forum where participants taste the same thing at the same time across the country (and sometimes across the world).  Dpeending on the focus, you are increasing sales both during the event itself, and after – as blog posts are completed.
  • Come to the WBC! The Wine Bloggers Conference is in its infancy but it was a truely amazing event.  There were many wineries that participated, not just in tastings, and as a direct result we were exposed to them.
  • Exposure is key.  There are over 700 wineries in California ALONE.  How many do you realistically thing we actually know about?  taking that a step further, accessibility can be challenging.  If we can’t get a wine easily than we won’t know about it and you are missing out on sales.

These are just some of my ideas.  There are many more posted over HERE, and I encourage you to cehck it out!

Traditional print media is being weeded down.  As newspapers file for Chapter 11, and the new geneation doesn’t subscribe to traditional wine journals, online media is becoming increasingly important.  Bloggers often have a more distinct connection with the wine buying audience, since we are writing about what we enjoy, what are expereinces are, and what our passions are.  This differs from traditional wine writing since – in my opion – they are talking about the wine in a technical way, without the passion or love that I feel many wine bloggers have.

In Vino Veritas!

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17 Responses to “The importance of being…”

  1. Judd Wallenbrock Says:

    Thanks for this post — the more all of us can spread the word…via traditional media, social media, or good old fashioned talking to people directly, the better off the entire wine industry will be. I’ve embraced blogging, Twitter, Facebook & just about any other medium I can find to reach out and tell the story of both Humanitas, my winery, and Michel-Schlumberger, my ‘day job’. And in both cases, I’ve had my wines tasted live on Twitter Taste Live. All really great stuff — and all good for wine!

  2. winebratsf Says:

    Indeed Judd! The more exposure the better. And as a blogger, and wine consumer, I benefit by tasting more fabulous wines!

    I never would have discovered Humanitas if I weren’t so plugged in, so thanks for being a thought leader!

  3. Steve Heimoff Says:

    No one has greater respect for the possibilities of wine blogging and social media than I do. That’s why I started my blog. I agree with you that the cost of paper-based journalism at this time is a challenge, and with advertising drying up, newspapers and magazines are going through a tough period. However, I think that when the economy is back on track — and it will be — things will look brighter. Where I disagree with you is when you say that traditional wine writers “are talking about the wine in a technical way, without the passion or love that I feel many wine bloggers have.” That is a very sweeping, prejudiced statement and is contrary to the facts. Not only are the wine writers I know passionate about wine, but wine bloggers are themselves writing about technical issues. Blogging may be a wave of the future, but it’s not necessary to slam trad wine writers. We’re all in love with wine and we’re all on the same team. I think…

  4. winebratsf Says:

    Steve, agreed – I didn’t mean to slam trad writers as a blanket class, and I am just expressing opinions and my viewpoint. here.

    Facts be as they are, if so many people (and bloggers) have that perception, my question is shouldn’t trad media be doing something to change it? My experience is that most don’t’ care to change the opinions of the masses, instead taking the approach that we just don’t know what we’re talking about, and that is what bothers me about that outlet.

  5. Ron McFarland Says:

    It seems each aspect of the wine business has its own language.

    The conversation between a winery or wholesale sales person and retailer is totally different than the one between the retailer and a consumer.

    If you were to walk into any retail wine store this afternoon no one would be seeking wine using descriptions found in most print or online reviews.

    We just have to watch and at the same time be part of the evolution of wine communication.

    Good post!

  6. Steve Heimoff Says:

    Winebratsf, “if so many people (and bloggers) have that perception, my question is shouldn’t trad media be doing something to change it?” Well, I’ve been working to show bloggers that I do “get” blogging, that I take it seriously. I’ve always thought that part of the heavy criticism bloggers have for trad writers is based in part on jealousy. Now, I know the bloggers hate it when I say that, but it’s true — and some bloggers have said so themselves. I sense the hurt in your statement that trad writers think bloggers ” just don’t know what we’re talking about.” I don’t think that, I don’t know any writers who think that, and it’s very sad that some bloggers feel disrespected. You’re not. Bottom line: We have GOT to stop the bickering over paper vs. Internet, old vs. young and all the rest of that nonsense. It’s not helpful to anyone and just causes bad feelings on both sides.

  7. winebratsf Says:

    Thank you for that Steve, I really do appreciate that input. I respect the fact that really are trying to bridge the gap.

    I can only hope that more people follow suit from “the other side”! I really see it as a spectrum – I just think it will take some time to get everyone else to see that viewpoint.

  8. 1WineDude Says:

    Really interesting look into this, Thea.

    I think that you and Steve are both making valid points.

    I’ve been on the receiving end of the criticism that all bloggers’ writing is worthless, but this was from a very select group associated with WS. Many of the other mags have reached out to me and done so with respect, which I find quite humbling actually.

    Interestingly, recent studies on the demographics for one of the established wine publications (WS, I think) showed the average reader was in her late 40s (yes “her”, more female readers than male) and earned a fairly decent sum of money each year (wish I had the link to this info., I’d post it here if I did). This is probably a very different demo. from most (but NOT all) wine blog readers.

  9. Steve Heimoff Says:

    Thea, Joe: Here’s an exaggerrated form of the “debate” as it’s shaped up:
    Bloggers say “All old trad wine writers are crooked unethical bastards who’s time is up and they know it.”
    Trad writers say “Bloggers are a bunch of twittering idiots who don’t know what they’re talking about.”
    I think we all can agree that both of these positions are untrue and damaging. As one who’s come in for [more than] my fair share of abuse, I know I’m ready for it to end. It doesn’t bother me personally, but it’s not what I want to read and write about.

  10. Uzi Says:

    Hi Thea,

    Thank you for a good post. I am going to take some of these bullet points and turn them into my online marketing action plan.
    By the way, one of last sentences states:…”There are many more posted over HERE, and I encourage you to cehck it out!” I think you intended to put a link in?

  11. winedivergirl Says:

    Excellent and YES! More fuel for the fire of ideas and transformational, revolutionary approaches to conversations and experiences around wine. So many thoughts and ideas bubble up when we connect these dots. Let’s talk about that and get the next Bloggers Tasting Forum on the calendar for early 2009! More soon.

  12. Pamela Says:

    I look for wine on the blogs, and follow many wine/ food bloggers in the Bay Area for suggestions. In fact, I will be checking out Manzanita Creek now. (We spend weekends in healdsburg. )

  13. winebratsf Says:

    Thanks for reading Pamela! I think it’s a great way to spread the word on wines we love. Hope you enjoy! I love Healdsburg, so many wonderful small wineries there. Also check out Truett-Hurst, Kokomo and Holdredge!

    Cheers

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