The goal of this series is to connect with wineries and wine business that use Social Media (Twitter and Facebook) effectively. These interviews can serve as a catalyst to help other wineries and wine businesses to see the benefits (and pitfalls) of joining the social revolution.
How long have you been using Twitter?
Black Star Farms has been using Twitter since July of 2009.
What prompted you to dive in?
We attended a wine marketing conference last spring called License to Steal where there were several sessions devoted to social media. Twitter was the most popular topic that generated the most discussion. At that time we were not using Twitter but we quickly realized the importance of adding it to our social media strategy for the important reasons that I have listed below:
- Create meaningful relationships with customers as well as our vendor partners
- Establish relationships with wine bloggers
- Be aware of what is being said about our “brand” and wine growing region
- Engage in conversation with our followers
- Talk about trail events, promotions, and special offers
What type of strategy or approach do you use when posting content?
We post content two to three times daily — usually in the morning and late afternoon. Content varies to include what is newsworthy, educational or perhaps comical, what may generate conversation and anything that promotes our brand and region. We do use Twitter to post promotions as well as special events but this information does not drive 100% of our content.
What have been the benefits of using Twitter/Facebook?
The benefits of using Twitter and Facebook are increased brand awareness, a connection to our customers, and real time exposure to media and wine bloggers. Since joining the social media realm we have definitely experienced an increase in publicity on-line as well in print.
Is there a single success story that you can point to with using Twitter/Facebook?
We are working with Shannon Casey at Michigan By the Bottle on our first virtual wine tasting to be hosted on Twitter on March 8th. It is called Tweet and Taste Michigan (#ttmi). The response to this event has been amazing! There are 57 confirmed participants and we are anticipating more as it gets closer. There are daily tweets and mentions about #ttmi on Twitter and Facebook which are leading to press coverage in several local and regional publications. For an event that has not even happened yet we are extremely pleased with the results.
What do you think is the single biggest barrier to why we don’t see more wineries actively using Social Media tools?
For the smaller wineries in our region I would have to say the reason is a perceived lack of time. The educational process for learning how to effectively use social media tools combined with the daily maintenance can be daunting. The employee managing the social media for a winery is usually the same employee with many other job responsibilities and the idea of adding more work to their daily plate is viewed negatively and sometimes impossible.
What advice would you give to wineries joining the stream or getting back into the stream?
Educate yourself and staff about how to use these tools correctly. There are great websites and bloggers who can teach you what you need to know – find them! Attend seminars and conferences about how to use social media. Create a plan or strategy before diving in.
Briefly tell us about your winery, a new release, or something unique about you?
Black Star Farms is a unique agricultural entity that features two winery production facilities, their adjacent tasting rooms, a distillery, Inn, and equestrian facility. Our winery just celebrated its 10th year anniversary and is proud to represent the viticultural diversity of the Northwest Michigan region, and its proximity to the 45th parallel – the same parallel that runs through so many of the great wine regions of the world. Our varietal wines are of high character, acidity, and balance. Fruit is sourced from both our own vineyards and local grower partners. This consistency allows us to obtain replicable quality across vintages.
What is your favorite rock band and why?
The Rolling Stones because almost every album is awesome and something that you can listen at anytime. Not to mention I worked at an awesome bar called Beggar’s Banquet – an experience that was life changing in many positive ways!