Archive - May, 2011

Wine Branding Disruption

In an effort to broaden our communication channels, Robert and I are back with a first podcast for some time, this time for the new Wine Conversation. In this episode we talk about an exciting project we have lined up for the Access Zone at the London International Wine Fair. Called “Disrupt”, the idea is to create wine at the London International Wine Fair in 3 days, from blending to putting it on sale for all of you to be able to buy. Take a listen and let us know what you think!

Measuring influence or communication skills

Do you have influence? This question is causing quite a stir at the moment, but what does it mean in the wine world?

This question will be of particular relevance next week at the London International Wine Fair. Why? Because with the massive growth of online sources of information, wine businesses will want to understand who can help them spread their message, and build their brands.

“I’m 47 on that”

Influence“, in theory, goes beyond raw numbers of readers, hits and followers, and instead promises an insight into a wine communicator’s ability to engage their audience and generate some kind of activity (see here for a previous post “Writing Under the Influence of Twitter“).

In many ways, it is analogous to how wines are scored, except this time it is the communicator themselves being scored. Take James Suckling for example, infamous for his point-scoring perspective, in the world of influence he himself is scoring 47 and 53 instead. I don’t think he’d like these numbers, but should he be impressed?

The “science” of measuring this influence is in its infancy, but developing every day to include a wider range of information sources. Two of most widely used services today are PeerIndex & Klout, and for your enjoyment, analysis and feedback, here is a list of “top 100 wine twitterers” I have created from the MANY folks I follow every day:

(Click on the link for the full global list of the most influential wine accounts and for information on what the different columns mean)

You will note:

  • The list is ordered by an overall influence score that does not relate solely to wine (I am hoping to work with this data in the near future)
  • The list is arbitrary & incomplete – I certainly don’t know all twitterers interested in wine
  • It is a mix of all those with interest in wine, covering many different segments – winemakers, marketeers, personalities and consumers that could/should be looked at separately
  • It is based largely, at this stage, on twitter activity (though facebook, linkedin and others are apparently taken into account). So if you are not on twitter, tough luck!
  • Most of all, influence is a very personal thing, so you probably will disagree with this list

For comparison, here are Klout scores for the same top 10:

Klout score for wine

Unfortunately Klout’s list does not allow for more than 10 users at the moment, so it is very hard to compare (but this data should be available shortly) however, you can see a similarity in the general order of users.

In essence, the influence score is a measure of how likely a message sent by this person is likely to be heard and acted upon. It is calculated based on measures such as the size of the audience, the volume and quality of interactions with that audience (messages, retweets, lists), the nature of the content being shared, and how unique and interesting that is, and more.

Measuring your social media skills

But does it mean anything? More importantly, does it help in any way?

I feel uncomfortable with the idea of “most influential” lists, yet I do recognise that the people who feature highly are those I read and look out for.

I believe it would be better for the term “influence” to be replaced with “skilled at social media communication” – unfortunately that is a lot less catchy. I believe that these measures are really about how skilled the person is at communicating clear messages in a way that people will want to follow, read, share and react. Skills are learned, and the effort and time users invest in these accounts is therefore also reflected in the score.

Does it matter? Whatever you think these measures mean, they do reflect the profile of certain people and messages. More decision-makers (advertisers, PR companies, buyers, consumers) are paying attention. For that reason alone, the answer is, Yes … but don’t lose sight of the big picture!

It is always important to keep an eye on the leaders in a field, but don’t forget that in an area that is developing as fast as social media, the next big thing is probably not included yet!

Next week’s LIWF will see a lot of influence at work, and if managed well, see these scores rising. Brands will see their influence scores rise as visitors share their reviews and links online. Communicators will be discovering and sharing the kind of unique content that their readers are interested in, and looking to share. Who wins? Everybody – brands, writers and consumers, and the online wine culture.

Have you checked your score? Is it a fair reflection? Want to know how to improve it? Come along to the Access Zone on F70 at the London Wine Fair to ask us.

Update 10/5/2011: here is a list just of UK wine bloggers as an example

Stay tuned to WineConversation.com as we explore the area of influence, or communication skills, and look in more detail at what this might mean.

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The Access Zone – the London Wine Fair’s best Roller Coaster

Why do you go to a wine fair? I think we’ll all agree the answer is “to do business”.

Simple.

People don’t want to waste their time walking around for 3 days, with sore feet and bad food, unless there is a something to be gained from it. Whether you’re a winemaker selling your wines, a wine retailer looking for new discoveries or wine writer looking for the next big story to pitch, we all have £ signs in our eyes. Our end goal is: Doing business.

Today the fact is that, more and more, business is going online. From this people have made the jump to say that you don’t even need a wine fair if you can just do it “virtually”. Unfortunately for us, this quickly falls apart when we ask for a taste of a wine … I, for one, find licking my laptop screen a non-starter. So we’re back to mailing samples, organizing ourselves a bit more and doing the work piece-meal.

Wine fairs are great at one thing: Bringing people together. Heck the work “fair” is exciting, evoking dreams of ferris wheels, candy floss and adrenaline-rushes from impossibly-named roller coasters, but none the less a fair is a fair. With hundreds of people wandering about there is an opportunity for all wine buyers, sellers and communicators to find some business. But again, maybe a ‘one or other’ mentality is just a bit too passe.

We host a conference each year and we limit ourselves to 200 participants. We are a small focused group of individuals who come together to talk in person, face to face. Funny thing is that we also talk online during the whole conference with each other, including those who could not be there. During big tastings, where we sit quietly and listen to a speaker walk us through a selection of wines, behind the deferential murmur is a wild cacophony of twitter and Facebook conversations. Opinions are exchanged & dialogs fomented.

Imagine if you did that on a much larger scale.

That is what the Access Zone is all about at this year’s London International Wine Fair (#LIWF). A place to discuss the internet, to track the conversation and to encourage dialog. With free wifi for all, plus power points (outlets for you non-Brits) galore, we offer a location to learn about the web, share your stories with other curious folks and get your questions answered.

This year, working with MadCatMedia, we are bringing you 3 days of live video from the fair. Live video that will not just share a message, but encourage a dialog about wine, wine communications and much, much more. With an open door policy and the ability to be watched online or in person, our desire is to show people that the world is not a place of black and white but a prism of colors that stand within.

We’ll come back and explain more about what we are doing in the coming days, but for now let us know what you think. Will you stop by? You can check all our events at the official schedule: http://vrazon.com/accesszone and even watch a recap from last year.

See you at the fair!

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