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The Perfect Wine “App”

Day 18: Most Used AppsOne of my favorite podcasts is NPR‘s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Wait Wait is a weekly new’s quiz show, based out of Chicago, that invites various guests to answer a series of satirical questions.

This past week, Ev Williams of Twitter was invited onto the show as a guest, and he echoed a comment I happened to make recently when talking to a friend about wine apps for mobile. People often complain about the mundane tweets that happen on twitter, with a occasional traffic update or news item. What’s interesting is that this worked to train the users to use twitter to communicate. If you had built an app  for these “traffic updates”, people wouldn’t use it since it was not part of the way they communicated. They’d forget it’s there and therefore, not tell everyone what’s happening on the freeway.

From the Show: It turns out it has a lot of different facets, because while there’s many people doing stupid narcissistic things, that gets you to use it(twitter) on a regular basis and it gets you familiar with it. But then when you see an accident, you’re trained to tweet that you’ve just seen an accident, and suddenly that’s a useful piece of information. Whereas, if we told you that this was a program only for reporting accidents, you’d never think of it. – Ev Williams

When my friend asked, “what is the best wine app”, my response was, bluntly, that they all sucked.

I might want to clarify and say that they all suck for 99% of the population of wine drinkers. The current wine apps are all what I call “destination apps”, meaning you need to make them your destination for information you need. The truth is that we need apps that are not destinations, but rather locations were we hang out. I mentioned to him that if you want to make a wine app that works, try making a “life app” that includes wine.

For me it comes down to a few apps that already exist. Evernote: a place where I share all my wine notes and store information that I find online. I use it everyday and would feel as though I was missing an arm if I didn’t have it at the ready. It’s a tool that I use for organizing my life, and wine is one aspect of my life (shocking I know, I do enjoy other things too!). Then you have the other arm of social: Twitter, Facebook and to a growing extent Google+, all of which are places where I share my life with friends and family. Since wine is a social lubricant, it only goes to show how natural it is to talk about the various wines I’m enjoying.

I don’t want to get too detailed, but I do want to offer up a challenge to wine app creators. What we need is a lifestyle app that builds wine into its core, or an app that allows for conversations, categorizations, or amplifications of things other than wine. Do this and you’ll have an app that normal folk can relate to. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for specialist apps, each discipline needs these, but they are not going to grow an audience much bigger than the niche they are built for.

Till soon,

Ryan Opaz

Read the full transcript of Ev Williams on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me 

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Branding Tip: Gravatar

A big part of branding is consistency: making sure that when you leave comments and links around  the web, you do it in a way that creates a trail of similar information. When we consult new wineries who want to get online, we tell them to make a special folder that they keep on their computer with: a headshot, image  (of winery, vineyard, team, etc), logo, a text document with some cut and paste descriptions that they can use, and any other relevant “social information”. This very simple trick ensures that your information is relevant and consistent.

One other tool and one that is EASY and indispensable to getting online is: Gravatar. Gravatar stands for “Globally Recognized Avatar”. Avatar is both a 3d movie featuring agile blue people, and more importantly for us, a visual representation of yourself online. Usually Avatars are small square images that you see show up in the comments section in blogs, your photo in Facebook and your icon on Twitter. Using an image of your profile can go a long ways to helping people visually connect with you and your brand. Gravatar helps your brand be dispersed everywhere, without you having to think about it.

Check out this video for more info:

Hope you like today’s tech tip. Now go sign up for your Gravatar, and then test it out in the comments below by telling us how it went!

Ryan

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Does your website have a mobile version?

photo credit @Flickr .m for matthijs

It was reported today that consumers spend more time on mobile apps than on the web. Really this is no surprise. It is the way the world works, big things become smaller and smaller as technology gets better and better. If we could go back in time and start the computer revolution today, no-one would design a big box that sits in a special room in your house as a way to get online. If we started from scratch, we’d probably begin with something a bit more “iphone-like”. Small, portable and always connected to the web.

Laptops are shrinking into “pads” and desktops are more and more specialized professional tools, which brings me to today’s question:

Do you have a mobile version of your website, version that looks good on a small screen and is easy to navigate? Have you even checked?

If you’re working with an open CMS system like WordPress, or something even more cutting edge like Posterous, you are probably fine.

If you know what a wordpress plugin is, you might try one of these out.

If these don’t mean much to you, then go and check out your website on a mobile app.

Here’s a tip: if your site has pretty moving things on the screen when you look at it, it’s most likely using Flash. And what does Flash mean? It means that no-one with an iPhone can access your site, and many others will quickly lose patience and go elsewhere rather than watch your site load. If you’re using flash, get a new site.

Your customers are more likely today to find you while navigating on their phone, than on a laptop. If they can’t interact with your site you will be losing customers and fans!

Any questions?

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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!

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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