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Time really is money, online

Still think that social networks like Twitter aren’t worth your investment of time?

Read this for an example and a couple of tools that might help change your mind (disclosure; Vrazon is reseller for the second)

What I Wore Today (almost)

What I Wore Today (almost)

A post by a friend, Poppy Dinsey (@poppyd) made me think about this issue today. Since I met her, via twitter of course, she has gone on to launch an internet fashion sensation – WIWT (What I Wore Today) and as she says:

I have achieved endless things because of tweeting. Twitter is still one of the largest drivers of traffic to WIWT.com, a business I was only able to set up because of an idea that spread through – yep, you guessed it – Twitter. Twitter has enabled me to market my business, my sense of humour, my opinions, my style and my writing to literally millions of people. I’ve been able to work with brands from teeny tiny boutiques and emerging designers to global giants like Vodafone, Universal Pictures and Unilever, often solely because somebody has found me on Twitter. I’ve never once paid a PR agency, but have appeared in nearly all the mags and papers of this country for something or other…again, often simply because of journos following me on Twitter or someone recommending me via Twitter to a journalist who otherwise would never have found me. I know this isn’t your ‘usual’ Twitter experience, but it’s one I’m massively grateful for and lord knows I’ve put a LOT of time into tweeting to make it happen. I didn’t have ANY contacts in fashion, tech or property when I started in each of these industries…but I made sure I made them using Twitter.

It has been hard work, but she had a goal, and put in the time and effort.

So how might you benefit too?

LEAD GENERATION TOOL

Lead Generation Sample from Twitter

Lead Generation Sample

Today Twitter announced a new feature that will make it MUCH easier to capture important, and USEFUL, information on your audience: Lead Generation Cards. This new tool will allow businesses to embed a small form in a tweet that users can complete and send back with little or no effort.

This will allow wine businesses; wineries, retailers, journalists selling subscriptions and so on, to get the three most important bits of data for generating a return on investment in twitter; a user’s name, Twitter handle, and email address.

Twitter is great for several things, namely conversations (that you can start, join, or listen-in to), quick questions and answers, and sharing links. However, businesses should have a goal and twitter is not the place for lengthy, detailed explanations, private conversations or selling. Email still is the best way to do this, but if you take them together, you can not only capture people’s email addresses, you can build the kind of relationship that ensures they actually open and read them.

INTELLIGENCE GENERATION TOOL

Vrazon has discovered a great tool for getting to know the audience you have painstakingly built up with your time spent on twitter, facebook, linkedin and through email; Nimble.

Nimble Contact

Nimble Contact

Nimble is an online CRM tool that is specifically built to give you a much broader picture of the people you follow by combining all a user’s profiles on each of these social networks into a single place. You can have thousands of followers on Twitter and Facebook, and many professional links on LinkedIn, but combining this information is EXTREMELY hard.

They key, of course, is email because it links them all together.

An email address is still the most valuable bit of information, even in the age of the social network.

All of a sudden, time IS money because you can finally convert effort into leads.

 

 

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Wine competitions offer spark but no fire

It is that time of year when all sorts of wine competitions take place and announce their annual procession of gold, silver and bronze medal winners.

Countless self-congratulatory press releases, blog posts, status updates and adverts will blast out in a storm of activity that will effectively drown out the benefit of any one win and leave only one certain winner, the competition itself.

All spark, no fire

All spark, no fire (photo by Daniel Dionne)

Not only did the competition receive the fees, and it is the only constant in each and every message. Free branding. Well done! Have a Gold Medal for that!

Judging the ‘best spark’

I’ve been considering the vastness of the wine world and I understand the need to find a way to stand out from that crowd, but I am not at all certain that a wine competition with thousands of entries, and thousands of “winners” really helps.

Judging wines in an annual contest is a bit like judging the ‘best spark’ around a campfire. Millions are produced, some may even be brighter than others, but ultimately they all fade and leave little or nothing behind. What we should be looking for are those that can, and do, light the bloody fire and make something happen!

You’d think that after sitting in the dark, judging the intensity, duration and colour of the sparks flashing before their eyes, the judges themselves might ask themselves, “What’s the point”?

Some competitions may have stricter rules, more numerous categories, or more “qualified” judges, but fundamentally they are all doing the same thing.

What I long for personally is a competition that looks holistically at a wine – maybe at a track-record of quality production, but also at the story, the tradition or innovation, the ability to engage with consumers and more. Awards that are like achieving a masters degree not just aceing a school report.

Measuring the intensity of the fire produced, not the momentary spark.

Who can offer me that? I might then care about the results.

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Wine on TV comes to a Second Screen

Ever wondered what they were drinking on a TV show and wanted to know more? Maybe even try it yourself?

We know that product placement in TV and film is very effective if nothing else because of the amount of money that is charged for the privilege. It isn’t just films either, as the experience of Vin de Constance from South Africa attests when it was included in the second in the “50 Shades” series of books.

That Wine on TV - found

That Wine on TV – found

Last night, the BBC relaunched their Food & Drink TV brand that was instrumental to growing wine consumption in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s, but while the original series with Oz Clarke and Jilly Goolden recommended specific wines from exotic new locations such as Australia and Chile, the new programme only talks in general terms about the wine’s regional provenance and avoids showing the label.

Will that have an effect on wine? Maybe not directly, but indirectly it might:

  • help to widen the benefit of the profile to a category of wine instead of a single bottle
  • start a conversation about new regions
  • encourage exploration and a bit of fun ‘detective work’
  • allow producers to source more interesting wines from smaller regions and producers not on supermarket shelves

An appearance on TV or in a national newspaper used to guarantee sales, but this is no longer true as audiences dwindle and get fragmented.

Consumers today are not *that* interested in wine that they will suddenly jump up from their TVs and flood google’s servers with queries about wines from these new regions. Many will still want a bit more help in locating relevant wines. How do we connect interested consumers with willing suppliers?

What the world needs today is a more integrated information solution to information in the places consumers go to look for it.

The BBC is bound not to endorse any commercial brands, so there is a BIG opportunity for others to step in and provide this information alongside the TV show in what is known as “Second Screen” solutions.

Second Screen means that consumers are interacting with TV programmes on their main screen via a second device such as a computer, smartphone or tablet. They are commenting on appearances of their favourite celebrities via twitter or facebook while they watch it simultaneously. They are also searching for related information for holidays or ingredients.

What if someone were to help identify those ‘mystery’ wines, tell you where you could buy them, offer you similar alternatives that might be more attractively priced or conveniently stocked, and finally link to retailers (and monetise this through affiliate links)?

Just because the BBC can’t do this, doesn’t mean others could not.

To show what I mean, I set up That Wine on TV in a couple of hours last night (most of the time spent trying to identify the Dao red on the programme) which I will try to maintain for a while for fun.

There is a great deal of NEW opportunity in wine retail if we use social media not simply as a communication tool, but to create the sort of immediate, relevant and convenient tools that today’s wine consumers are looking for.

Deos anyone else have a good example of Second Screen solutions in action for wine?

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When is a Twitter Trend not a Trend?

When is a Twitter Trend NOT a Twitter Trend at all? The answer is “When it is a Tailored Trend”

Many of us are now Twitter users, and we’ve come to understand terms such as “follower”, “retweet”, “followfriday” and even “hashtag”. One term we think we understand is that of “Twitter Trends“. Trends are algorithm-generated insights into what is currently popular on twitter.

TAILORED JUST FOR YOU

In years past, it was possible for a group of enthusiastic wine twitterers to ‘trend’ by getting together and sharing a hashtag for the evening over a bottle or two of interesting wines. As the volume of twitter traffic has increased, it has become harder and harder to get noticed in the noise of Justin Bieber fever, US elections and amusing spoof celebrity accounts like @Queen_UK

Trends, however, are seemingly quite important to Twitter – witness their prominent position on the user’s homepage.

It was a shock recently, to see that one of our events, the EWBC, managed to “trend” for users in the UK, USA and Turkey – as many reported on twitter at the time. I’ve also seen other users mention how they’re “trending” recently.

However, on closer examination it seems that Twitter has changed the interface to create ‘tailored trends’ as announced in June 2012:

“Trends help you discover the emerging topics people are talking about on Twitter. You can see these topics as a worldwide list, or select one of more than 150 locations. In order to show emerging topics that matter more to you, today we’re improving our algorithms to tailor Trends based on your location and who you follow on Twitter.”

In other words, the trends you see (unless you have changed your settings) are not what is popular on twitter, but what is popular amongst the people you already follow on twitter.

BURST THE FILTER BUBBLES

This is a classic  example of the “Filter Bubble“, where the content we see, and therefore interact with, is increasingly limited to that which is “popular” with the people we already follow. It means we exist in echo chambers where we are always speaking to the same people and seeing content we agree with and like. It makes life easier, less challenging, but also less varied and less interesting.

So, the next time you see your favourite wine, brand or event trending on twitter it might be a lot less exciting than it first appears.

I encourage you all to change your settings to make them more general and open to discoveries where possible.

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Winners of the Louis Roederer Wine Writing Awards 2012

Congratulations to the many winners of the Louis Roederer Wine Writing Awards presented tonight in London.

image

Whilst the awards that Vrazon helped to create,the Born Digital Wine Awards, recognise the growing talent of content written specifically for online media, it is fair to say that this is not yet the mainstream of wine writing.

Tonight’s categories covered some important areas such as newspaper columnists and wine books that are terribly important ways to reach consumers and hopefully will continue to do so for many years to come.

Of course it was also a pleasure to attend the event to catch up with many good friends, listen to the entertaining Mr Charles Metcalfe, Chair of the Judges, and to enjoy the many Roederer champagnes including a small taste of Cristal 2004.

Here are the winners that were announced tonight:

1. Artistry of Wine – Colin Hampden-White

2. Emerging Wine Writer of the Year – Erika Szymanski (Palate Press)

3. International Online Wine Columnist / Blogger of the Year -  Andrew Jefford

4. International Wine Website of the Year – Peter Liem (www.champagneguide.net)

5. International Wine Publication of the Year – The World of Fine Wine

6. Regional Wine Writer of the Year – Tom Bruce-Gardner (Glasgow Herald)

7. International Wine Book of the Year – Summer in a Glass, Evan Dawson

8. International Wine Columnist of the Year – Michael Fridjohn

9. International Wine Feature Writer of the Year – John Stimpfig

Congratulations to all the winners and the equally worthy shortlisted candidates, particularly to our successful online friends at Palate Press including David Hoenig and Evan Dawson, as well as Peter Liem, flying the flag for online writers.

For full details and shortlists, head over to www.theroedererawards.com

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