“Having a Twitter account and not using it is like opening your business without any inventory. People may stop by, but they’ll never be back.” – J. Wade
Are wineries leaving money on the table? Social Media / Social Networking (whatever you choose to call it) is not going away. 2009 may be thought of as the year that Twitter hit the mainstream, but 2010-2012 will prove to be the years where money is made (and lost) through social mediums. We are finally living in a time where businesses can have real time conversations with their consumers; real time feedback, real time promotions, real time complaint resolution, and real time viral excitement. As a winery, do you want to look back in a few years and think, “Boy I wish I got in on that in the early stages?” The longer the wait, the tougher the upstream swim.
“Social media offers new opportunities to activate…brand enthusiasm.” – Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Mom Central
In my analysis of the Spokane area wine market, I discovered that 11 of the 15 wineries have Facebook fan pages and seven have twitter accounts. Of these forward thinking wine lovers, there are two that are actually taking advantage of Social Media to stay connected to their customers. The remaining are just stores with no inventory. Social Media is a two-way conversation with your fans/followers. Having a Facebook fan page is a start – fans can interact with one another, but think of how much more effective it would be if you responded to their comments? The interaction generates greater brand and product loyalty.
Good friend and Social Media Guru, @SeattleWineGal (Barbara Evans) has a fantastic post on the benefits of Social Media for wineries. It is an insightful post and worth the hop over to read it! It starts with trust, continues with reputation building and ends with increased sales.
“Social media efforts that have a strategic focus, plan, and goal, as well as a properly maintained and executed campaign, will result in an increase in sales.” @SeattleWineGal Barbara Evans
What is your Social Media strategy?
I realize that many wineries, specifically Spokane wineries, are smaller operations that keep busy maintaining the day-to-day tasks of growing, harvesting, fermenting, filtering, bottling, and distributing their passions. “I can’t afford to take time out to tweet or update my Facebook status.” Upcoming harsh tone is intentional – Can’t afford free advertising. Can’t afford free word of mouth. Can’t afford free brand loyalty. Can’t afford increased sales. Attitudes like that will lead to obsolescence as customers vote with their wallet and move to products they can engage and build loyalty with.
Three Tier Tactics
Web sites are static information mediums. A web page is a necessary business card element as customers are in the habit of searching for businesses in the .com .net world, but they don’t provide an opportunity to interact in real time. Keep your web site fresh by including feeds from your twitter account and current event, product information, or even a blog if you have time (heck, you can link to mine or any of the thousands of well written blogs out there). Web sites are often a first impression of your product and are a great place to push people larger amounts of information as you interact through Social Media.
Facebook Fan Page:
Facebook fan pages are Social Media, static information, and fan interconnectivity rolled into one. With 3 out of 4 Americans using social media and Facebook being the king, NOT having a Facebook page immediately puts you at a significant disadvantage. Just having one isn’t that much better. The key (as with Twitter) is to use it. Fans and followers want to connect. The conversation is part of the brand experience. Sharing pictures of the crush, responding to user tasting notes, sharing upcoming events (along with event pictures and then responding to users who attended) will do way more for brand loyalty than thousands of dollars spent in magazines and trade publications. Imagine the romance your customers will have as you describe the process of the 2009 vintage that you’ll be releasing in 24 months. They will have felt a part of the process. Your customers are online, now more than ever.
I could talk at length about ways to maximize Twitter (and Facebook) use, below are five key steps!
- Build your base: Invite customers to follow you on Twitter (and Facebook) by including links in all e-mail, newsletter, web site, print publication, etc. These links should become a part of every distribution avenue (including your business card).
- Follow your followers’ friends: Chances are your followers/fans have friends who are interested in the same things they are…YOU! There is no need to be overzealous. Take it slow, follow 30-50 at a time and then add more as they follow you.
- Be Social! Small Town Rules: When you see interesting posts, retweet them. “RT @personname Great post on such and such topic. Excellent read! http/hyperlink.” Putting the RT and @personname is the handshake and endorsement. Reply to people as they follow you or if they re-tweet your posts. Over time you’ll see exponential interaction…if you follow the next step.
“Remember to put the ‘social’ in Social Media. Meeting in person and talking on the phone are still great ways to connect. The digital space is an extension of actual human interaction, not a replacement.” – Rick Bakas @RickBakas St Supery Winery
- Tweet informative and often: It can be a challenge to keep content to 140 characters, but be creative! Don’t be afraid to tweet the same information several times in a day. Tweets (and Facebook updates) are real time feeds. If you tweet, “Hey wine lovers, stop by our tasting room today and receive 10% off our newest release,” it’ll be off of most peoples radar within the hour (or even minute). With your frequent updates and potential re-tweets, your single post can quickly reach hundreds and thousands of people.
- Don’t sell, offer incentive: Fans are less likely to respond to 2007 Cabernet for only $19.99 (unless it’s normally $50) than tweets of, “Stop by, watch the bottling, and receive $5 off with mention of this tweet.” These incentives will also give you the opportunity to track effectiveness.
Much more could be said to maximize social media, but putting these five principles into play will begin the process of building trust, brand excitement, loyalty and increased sales.
If you’re reading this thinking, “where do I start” or “this sounds good, but I think I need more help,” feel free to reach out to me. If I can’t answer your question of provide the time you need, I can certainly point you to the right person. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Don’t miss out on the opportunity. Will you be the one to stand out? Your fans are waiting. DRINK.HAPPY!