There is little doubt social media is changing the way we communicate. It’s the single biggest trend since email and is accelerating at a rapid rate due to smart phones, iPads and higher speed internet. It may seem a little daunting at first, but it’s becoming vital for the wine industry.
It’s important to remember that engaging through social media isn’t the same as making online sales. You aren’t dealing with people who have specifically come to you to buy something; you’re simply making conversation and building relationships. Don’t come on too “hard sell” too quickly.
While the social media options seem to be growing every day, you don’t have to learn how to market your product across 30 platforms. In reality you only need to do one or two – depending on what is right for your brand. Think about, and experiment with, each of the following to decide if they are right for your brand.
All have easy to follow online tutorials and FAQ sections to guide your progress. And remember, there are plenty of social media professionals out there to help you achieve your goals; you only need to ask.
Set up a Facebook page, not an individual profile. Pages are designed specifically for brands, providing in-depth statistics about your visitors and interactions, and will show up in Google search results.
The key is engagement and frequency. If someone posts on your wall, post back in a reasonable time frame. Don’t leave people feeling like no-one is listening. You don’t have to post every hour or even every day, but build an expectation of how frequently you communicate and stick with it. Once or twice a week is often plenty, depending on what information you have to share.
Content is king; don’t post rubbish. Map out a message calendar and stick with it. Vintage updates, new wine releases, barrel tasting updates from your winemaker, new menus from cellar door, great restaurant experiences, these things are interesting – what you had for breakfast is not.
Don't think of your website and Facebook as separate. Think about how you integrate the two. Posts on Facebook can link back to your site or to the blog post or podcast you’ve recently added.
Utilise all the applications available - videos, blogs, discussions and photos. Try ads once you’re up and established, new promotions and see how your consumers respond.
Get your team and your customers involved – share stories and create conversations on your page.
Twitter is a great way to drive traffic to your website or Facebook page when you have posted new content or announcements.
Spend you time wisely. A lot of the wine industry is on Twitter these days, but do you want to engage with them or with potential customers?
If you are not going to engage regularly, at least set up searches to monitor what people are saying about your brand. There are many levels of social media involvement, and you don’t need to be online all the time to be a part of the action. Sometimes five minutes a day will do!
Engage in the wine conversation and use hashtags to keep up with the dialogue. Initiatives such as #Winewednesday, #spitbucket, #roserevolution or taste and tweets like #wcatt are all broader industry conversations where you can start your Twitter journey.
Twitter may lead to greater collaboration between industry, new distributors, or direct consumer feedback about your brand…but it does require a dedicated effort from people in your business to make it work. People often appreciate the sharing and amplification of their ideas. If you like a particular message and you think it is aligned with your brand values, retweet it.
Don’t get involved in arguments on Twitter. If someone says something you don’t like, bite your tongue. If it really upsets you try to talk to them offline, but then they can always tweet about that too and something quite small can get out of hand very quickly.
YouTube is a place online for anyone to post video content, and it is this sharing ability that makes it such a powerful medium. It’s not difficult to upload a video, making your visual content easily shared between your consumers and your peers and hopefully drive traffic back to your website.
You don’t need to hire experienced third party crews to shoot video for you but you do need to know what you are doing. If you’re not handy with the family video camera, find someone who is.
Invest in decent gear if you are going to do it yourself; a good microphone, quality camera and tripod are essential tools.
Have a plan for what you’re going to film – 90 seconds is a long time to watch a bad video. You don’t want to be a YouTube sensation for all the wrong reasons!
Edit it well. There’s good software available or you can pay a professional, but make sure it’s smart.
Think about the myriad applications you can use video for – online wine tastings, back vintage tastings, Q&As with your winemaker linked to a live Twitter feed or your blog.
Great video can be an invaluable way of building brand knowledge for your distributors in Australia and overseas. If you think about it the opportunities are endless.
Blogs can be incredibly useful if they are integrated with your other social media, but they have to offer the right content, in the right way.
Host the blog on your website not on a third party site. You want to drive traffic to you.
Use Twitter and Facebook to promote a new blog post. Short and sharp is the key, and be upfront about what you are linking to. A simple Tweet of “New post: the exploration of 2009 Shiraz (link)” is the easiest way to drive traffic to your blog without being misleading.
Make the content interesting. Blogging is about sharing information, not advertising, so use the medium to tell a story or create an insight to your business that the customer wouldn’t otherwise get.
An effective blog site has categories and search functionality so readers can easily find what they are looking for. It should also have RSS subscription options easily displayed, and an email subscription option.
Think about how you incorporate key words into your blog to help your search engine optimization.
Be patient! As with all social media, you get back what you put in. Don’t expect to list a few blog entries and all of a sudden have a stack of followers
Click throughs, links, followers, fans, page impressions, subscribers, members – at the end of day it’s all a numbers game. Measuring the direct impact of social media on sales is as intangible as measuring the impact of advertising alone on sales.
Who was it who said “I know 50% of my marketing budget is effective, I just don’t know which 50%”? You have to decide what you want out of online marketing before you can measure if you’ve achieved it.
Social media should be integrated with traditional and non-traditional brand communications activity; it is only a small part of a much larger picture.
Social media is not about putting all your grapes in one basket. Remember these platforms are just another way to communicate about your brand. The dialogue is different but the message needs to be consistent across all communications platforms, be it newspaper advertising, traditional PR or Twitter. The sentiment must remain the same.