Archive by Author

A communication tool for the wine trade

I’ve been given the chance to test a new tool that could be of interest to those in the wine business, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer.

The idea is to road test it in my daily work and family life and see how I get on, and the timing is very good, because we will be doing all sorts of content creation and sharing on the Access Zone at the London Wine Trade Fair next week.

Here is a short video to show you what I’m talking about and hopefully there will be a few more in-depth posts on how useful I have found it.

If you want to check one out, come to the Access Zone, Stand F70 at the London Wine Trade Fair 17-19 May, 2011

(more reviews on techinstyle.tv)

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.

Enhanced by Zemanta

A new wine conversation

Welcome to the new WineConversation, one where you will find a few new, but familiar voices.

Virtually all blogs begin as solitary endeavours driven by the author’s energy and motivation to share some message or theme. In most cases, this energy is lost over time. The world changes. Eventually the themes have been explored and the clever puns have all been made. The blog gets tired, and authors move on.

A great many bloggers have found it easier to continue their online conversations with specific groups of like-minded friends on Facebook and Twitter rather than continue to preach from the lonely soap-box of the blog, and so blogs eventually die.

However, if you driven to create content as well as sharing it, you need a platform.

I’ve long felt that the future for many bloggers was to move on from running all aspects of their sites, from being publisher, editor, author, marketer, ad sales and chief spokesperson, and to pool their knowledge and resources with others and specialise. The effect will be to create bigger, better, more interesting group blogs. These don’t have to be huge publishing enterprises such as Huffington Post or TechCrunch, but niche sites as before where content creators focus on producing quality content without the need for the filler stuff that keeps blogs ticking over.

When I started this blog in June 2006, it was only intended as a small place for me to publish a few comments about what I was thinking about wine culture in the UK. I hadn’t expected it to become a major part of my working life. I didn’t really have any other “social media” channels to participate in – Facebook was not yet available and Twitter was about to launch. However, it grew, partly because I was convinced that this was going to be important for the wine business, and largely because I was getting to know so many cool people.

Two of those amazingly cool people were Ryan & Gabriella Opaz, not only experts on Iberia writing on Catavino.net, but the experts behind Catavino Marketing.

After becoming friends via Facebook (yes, we are a product of Facebook) we eventually went on to create the European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC), the Access Zone, the Born Digital Wine Awards and more. It made sense to create a proper structure for all these projects, and so together we are launching a new business called Vrazon (and you’ll hear a LOT more on that soon).

This new focus needs a home. It needs a place where all of us can share our thoughts on how social media and new technologies can benefit the wine business. A place where we can inform you about the conferences, events and campaigns that we are participating in, so you might be able to benefit from them too. A place where you can find us easily and contact us with your comments, questions and suggestions.

The obvious solution was this site.

WineConversation was always about the convergence of wine, marketing and social media (well, in the last couple of years anyway), so this is a logical step. I will still be covering these topics, except now the site will have an even greater International focus, it will benefit from an ‘Opaz’ perspective from the US, Spain & Portugal and it will give the site greater access to Ryan’s technical expertise and Gabriella’s insight, editorial skills and management.

Welcome to the NEW Wine Conversation

We are really looking forward to getting started and hearing what you think.

And finally, special thank you to my many readers, commenters, friends and supporters over the first stage of this site’s development. I owe you so much! I will continue to have a space for more personal thoughts on wine, UK events and activities over at thirstforwine.co.uk so do drop by there from time to time too.

Enhanced by Zemanta

What’s so Odd about Oddbins?

Oddbins is in trouble, and it needs a new lease of life, and probably a new investor, to survive, but brands CAN survive repeated near-death experiences if they have something to live for.

Newspapers and the wine media are full of doom and gloom stories about the future of Oddbins, once the UK’s coolest wine retailer. This week they announced that they were closing 39 shops, losing around 200 staff, and that this was probably just the start. The reality is that once the financial situation reaches a state of crisis, trust evaporates and things only get worse. Of course many of us working in the wine business either grew up working or shopping there, so many people are very upset.

Yogi on Meditation.

What seems to be missing from the discussion are positive suggestions on the future for this brand.

I know nothing of the financial or management discussions going on at the moment, but I thought I’d say something that has been on my mind since the current owners, under the management of Simon Baile, bought the business from Castel in 2008.

Let’s face it, the future of mass wine retail on the high street is either finished, or extremely uncertain*. We don’t shop there as often and margins don’t cover extremely high rents and staff costs. This is not the full story though. The Telegraph points out that wine is not alone here:

Every bottle of wine we’ve bought in the supermarket over the last year has been a bottle we haven’t bought from Oddbins and its rapidly diminishing off-licence peers. … Oddbins’ troubles are exactly those that have hit booksellers and record shops nationwide. Let’s hope that there’s not about to be another casualty to add to the list.

We have not stopped buying music, books or films have we? We just stopped buying them on the high street.

I know, I KNOW! Books and music can be ‘consumed’ digitally, but that just made them the first to move the shopping experience online. Our lives are changing and a lot of our shopping is now online. I don’t know about you, but our household rarely visits supermarkets anymore and orders stuff with excellent companies such as Ocado.

Wine is no different. Can you imagine an investor buying into a chain of high street bookshops, music shops or video stores in 2008? I’m sorry, but why did Oddbins try to save hundreds of shops? While they were doing that, people like Rowan Gormley were doing the opposite and establishing businesses like Naked Wines.

Oddbins established its reputation because it made wine accessible to people when the only alternative was “stuffy old wine merchants” – even supermarkets were hardly in the game in those days. The reputation was not really built on “convenience” of high street retail but on the knowledge of staff, the quirkiness of the range, the “coolness” of the Ralph Steadman brand image and the general excitement of discovery. I think I’m right in daying, however, that despite this, even at its peak, Oddbins was never greatly profitable even then!

It’s not death, it is moving on to a better place

Where can you best make that happen today, and try and do it profitably? Not in shops, but online.

The future of the Oddbins brand is to “ascend to a higher plane” and move its MAIN business online and keep a small number of outlets as “experience stores” (in the way Apple & Nike have done so well, and Laithwaites is already doing in wine).

I know it will be a tough transition, and I’m sorry to the many fine folks that will lose their retail jobs, but this would also create a whole new category of online advisor jobs where staff could actually use their wine knowledge and spend less time stacking shelves and dusting bottles.

Threshers tried to cling on to its retail model, and after a protracted series of death throws, it eventually collapsed. That brand didn’t have much to live for. Oddbins is different. I believe, along with many others, that it deserves to continue, but it must go back to its ‘Odd’ roots and embrace the future, not cling to the past.

* Real local shops will survive, but big brands are unlikely to. Even Majestic avoids the actual ‘high street’ and their model is based on finding other local sites.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Great advertising is about message, not product

Many of my readers are not from the the USA, so may not have seen this advert (unless they happen to love American Football) but take 2 minutes and 3 seconds to watch this Superbowl advert:

Now, think back about how often the logo, the car itself or anything recognisable as “the product” were shown. They were there (so you see them the 2nd, 3rd … 22nd time you watch the ad), but they are NOT the message. The message is bigger than that, and the clever thing is that a strong, emotional message can be associated with the product with good advertising. In fact sometimes it actually makes it more likely if the product is not shown (think perfume ads).

How many businesses in the wine industry dare to advertise like this? Think, in particular, of “generic adverts” promoting regions such as Bordeaux, Alsace, etc. Or the battle to be the packaging and closure (screwcap, cork, ..) of choice. More often than not, they focus on the bottle of wine … and fail.

I’ve seen a few decent wine “Country” adverts promoting the wine alongside food & tourism, but they hardly break any mould.

I should point out that although I like the advert, it has little effect on me. This is a good advert for someone for whom “luxury” is a reason to buy a car. I personally think that Detroit has failed so massively because they failed to understand that more people are after practical cars with a much reduced impact on the environment (and not just modified versions of the same old stuff). Just as an advert for a wine, or wine product, I have tried and know I dislike would not appeal to me. However, it is a good way of communicating their message and helps you to change how you think about it even if you don’t buy it.

Oh, and an unexpected celebrity endorsement also works too

Is anyone doing something similar in wine? There must be some good adverts out there in print or video

UPDATE: of course, one thing leads to another and I start to see relevant content everywhere (though not wine yet). I LOVED this advert too:

Enhanced by Zemanta
Page 9 of 34« First...«7891011»2030...Last »