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A gift for the best of 2011

It is the time of year for giving gifts. If you think of Christmas gifts, you might imagine a box, lovingly wrapped in paper, with a bow on the top. You might, if you are like me, imagine a well crafted (but last minute) email with a voucher attached, but gifts come in many forms.

“Dear Blogger, Thanks!”

English: Danboard holding a Christmas gift.

Image via Wikipedia

One under-appreciated gift is a simple “thank you” to a person, friend or stranger, who has done something for you that you have gained from.

You’ve probably guessed that, since I am writing on this site, I mean the wine writers and wine enthusiasts that spend hours each week writing articles, blog posts, tweets, status updates and more, to spread a knowledge, appreciation and access to wine.

Most of those who benefit from this activity, especially online, do not have to pay anything for this benefit.

Unfortunately, because it is free, its actual value is not appreciated by everyone. We are used to there being experts available at the end of a Google Search or on Twitter and Facebook who can answer our questions or suggest what wines to bring to our friends’ dinner parties.

“You are the best!”

So this year there is an extra thing you can do for your favourite wine content creator. A simple “thank you” will do wonders, but what greater compliment to a writer, videographer or photographer could there be than their fans nominating their content as “possibly the best in the world”?

The second edition of the Born Digital Wine Awards (BDWA) is now taking submissions for entries, and we would love to share YOUR favourites along with great content from all over the wine world. What’s more, your favourite could win the originator €1000 in the process.

Please, revisit your favourite content and encourage the author to submit their content to the BDWA.

The BDWA only accepts submissions from the originators of that content, but your comments on your favourite sites, blogs & networks, or send tweets, emails or private messages will let them know what you think of their content and encourage them to participate in the awards.

We all benefit in the end from better content and a greater sense of community.

Thank you!

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Do you speak my language?

I noticed a really interesting new tool on Facebook today, and I’m not often impressed by Facebook at the moment.

Translate This link on Facebook
Translated Facebook Status Update BingAfter

Amusing automatic translation on Facebook

It appears that when a Page (not a User Profile) posts an update to their wall, readers will see an option appearing below offering a translation.

[I'm not entirely sure how it decides this, but presumably it checks the language of the text and compares it to the default on the machine you are using.]

Most importantly ALL Pages have been opted IN automatically (typical Facebook!) so you are using this already if you have a Page active and you should therefore know about it.

When this was launched a month ago it was only for a few languages (Korean, Japanese, Russian, Taiwanese and Chinese-Hong Kong), but as of very recently (today?) it seems to work for Italian, Spanish & Portuguese into English, so I assume a lot more languages are now available.

It even appears to work in the comments to be able to continue the discussion.

Benefits of using a Page

Making your content available to users who may potentially be interested, but who do not speak the language you prefer to write in, means that a great deal of interesting wine content can now spread around the world.

The big question will be the quality. The post I saw this morning was from Spanish to English and was perfectly adequate, but others have reported that the tool (supplied by Bing in this case) is not particularly effective. Interestingly, there is an option for users to install a Translation App which allows you to submit a modified translation. The Page Admin then, presumably, gets the option to approve and select the best translation, however when I tested it this morning, this process seems a bit complex and will need some refining.

I expect the quality of translations will improve over time. Mechanical translations have been available for some time, but often meant browser plugins or copy & pasting text. Now admins can use the tool to publish content quickly, so it could mean a lot more content is suddenly available.

Just one more reason that brands, wineries and businesses should remember to use a Page for their communications and NOT a fake user Profile page. You have been warned!


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A community of wine lovers and friends at the EWBC

“My nerves were getting to me. After all, I had no formal wine training, no valuable old bottles to bring, and was just wearing jeans in this incredibly chic venue! …

Equipped with spit buckets galore, people start rushing around like some sort of speed dating game with bottles in hand. I realized I had to be more aggressive when I looked at my bottle that was hardly touched. So off I went, to do what I do best… mingle. With some wine the worries went away and I was learning the game. But the highlight came when the crazy Portuguese guys brought out their precious port from the 1980′s and started rationing it out to the line of wine lovers. In partners of newly made friends, we ran over to the chocolate cake table to see how delicious this pairing really could be…and let me tell you.. after 4 doses of port and probably an entire cake…I was set for the evening! What an awesome end to the night and beginning to a memorable wine conference weekend.” – Anna Savino, EWBC first-timer

The unofficial start of the annual EWBC has come to symbolise the heart of this event for me. The European Wine Bloggers Conference is about a lot of things, but one of the most important is community.

This is not your regular conference, where you turn up, alone, listen in silence, exchange a few business cards and then go home, unmoved. The EWBC is an annual gathering of friends who interact all year around and for whom the three days are more like a pilgrimage than a business event, and everyone is invited.

Think back to the last conference you attended. How involved did you get with the other attendees beforehand? How much did you prepare? How many people did you know before … and after?

Nowhere is this more obvious than with the excitement generated by the “BYOB” dinner the night before the main event. The planning starts weeks before. These are passionate wine lovers. Everyone wants to bring something special, unique and personal. Over 80 wines were registered for this event (more arrived on the night) with at least 65 varieties represented. These were special bottles being brought to share. How better to make new friends than by exchanging not just names and handshakes, but wines and stories?

IMG_0990There is a lot left to report on regarding EWBC 2011 – great tastings and visits to the producers of Franciacorta; astonishing wines from across the hugely varied Italian landscape, tasting “modern Chile” with Italian food, and of course the theme of this event, the stories of wine. However, no report by us about the EWBC could begin without a heartfelt thank you to the AMAZING community of friends who make the event so special.

I cannot believe any organisers can be so well supported, or could expect to receive so many personal messages of thanks – even after the unfortunate outcome of what should have been the celebratory dinner on Saturday. We all, the organisers and the catering company, are truly sorry for the failure, and the patience and understanding of all participants was marvellous.

We are very excited about organising even more events for the community and announcing some wonderful plans for EWBC 2012.

If you want to catch up on this EWBC, do check out the video archive (already uploaded), the vast range of photos and all the interaction on facebook and twitter (#ewbc). Here, to entertain you, are some memories from the BYOB night (thanks to MadCatMedia):

… and don’t forget to keep an eye on this site for the EWBC 2012 announcement on November 28th 2012.

Thank you, friends, again. I raise my glass to you all.

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Talking about influence, elitism and wine

On a highly unusual day in London recently I was lucky enough to be interviewed twice on similar topics – the coming together of wine, blogging and some measure of influence.

This blog, in large part thanks to its longevity but also some very active and loyal followers, regularly appears on lists of “top wine blogs”. Of course, there is no easy or accepted way of defining what these top blogs are, and every time this comes up, the usual discussions arise (see my recent post about the UK Wikio rankings). However this is measured, it means that those of us involved in publishing it get asked to share ideas and our ‘secrets’ with others, which is always fun and good for the ego*

The first interview was with Cision UK, a PR services company, and I will share that with you if/when the video is public. We had a bit of fun with this one.

I also met with PeerIndex, one of the leaders in the field of online influence measurement. I wrote about online influence on this blog in the past (“Writing Under the Influence of Twitter” and “Measuring Influence or Communication Skills“). They asked to interview me for some thoughts on influence and wine, and the result is this video, shot on location at Around Wine (thanks to the very generous Daniel, aka @winerackd). Please excuse the lighting which makes me look like I’m wearing Tim Minchin style mascara:

One of the quotes which seems to have caught some people’s attention was:

“I have no influence. People who follow me make me have influence, so effectively they are the influencers.”

This may seem backwards, but the point I was trying to make is that influence is being viewed backwards. The individuals with lots of followers do not necessarily have the ability to influence the behaviour of others. We ought to be looking at how these particular users represent the shared interests of those in their networks.

I can’t make anyone drink a bottle of wine … but if you can convince me that I should drink yours, then maybe you’ve got the message right that will make others do the same.

Trying to target bloggers as mouthpieces for PR messages doesn’t work, but learning to engage with them is a great way of engaging with consumers in general.

Just a thought.

* It also goes to prove my point that any measure of “influence” is self-referential because if you are seen as influential, you attract more attention, links and interviews … and therefore more success which then means more “influence”

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The Return on Investment of Wine Education

… or why “consumers need more wine education” is wrong

It would appear to be widely accepted in the wine trade that if only consumers knew more about wine, the more, better (and higher profit) wines they’d buy.

“Consumer Education” in the form of brochures, seminars, events, newsletters, websites, apps, social networks, trips etc, form part of most every wine marketing plan (assuming they’ve even bothered). To quote one recent example, Tom Lewis (aka @CambWineBlogger) in a discussion on this topic initiated by Wink Lorch (aka @WineTravel):

(what we need is) more wine education, so people start to want better wines and feel confident about searching for them …

In other words, it isn’t a problem with the wine or how it is made available, it is really about a lack of knowledge. We can fix that. Right?

Continue Reading…

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