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Oysters and Champagne: Sharing the experience

Oyster from Marennes-Oléron
Image via Wikipedia

On Friday March 6th, I shall be putting myself through a challenge – and thanks to the wonders of social media, I am fully expecting this to be recorded, broadcast live and commented upon for some time to come.

If you still need an additional reason to watch, I have had to admit that I have not ever really eaten oysters… Watch me live – you never know what might happen.

Galvin at Windows has decided to put on a “showcase event”, the kind that happens all the time in restaurants for those lucky enough to be considered “influential” enough to be invited – and by this I usually mean the traditional restaurant review Press and also key clients. However, for one of the first times in my experience, this will be done for the benefit of bloggers and other Social Media users AND shared with everyone via video streams and live blogging/tweeting.

Once again, I take my hat off to Fred at Galvin (@galvinatwindows) for his confidence in this medium.

I will be amongst a select group of wine & food bloggers, along with representatives from TrustedPlaces, to meet the suppliers of Galvin at Windows Oysters (Wright Brothers) and their Champagnes (Bibendum). The idea is to have a fun event, matching and rating different oysters, champagnes and the best combination of these, and do so in a way that lets others learn more about the subjects as well as about the restaurant.

Inspired PR! Even if I hadn’t been invited to take part I probably would have watched.

For those interested in the experience that, to be honest, most of us cannot afford, this type of event is a great way to learn about both both oysters and champagne, and matching them, through a medium that is so much more interactive and relevant than television. Hopefully we will ALL learn a lot from this event.

This will all take place between 16:00 and 18:00 (London time) via Twitter (follow #galvinw), via live blogging (although I’m not sure on what blogs yet) and also on the World TV channel Ustream.tv – to watch, click here.

If you still need an additional reason to watch, I have had to admit that I have not ever really eaten oysters. I believe I may have tried them as a child, but not since. I think that making this event my first proper experience is both wonderful (might as well start with the best), and terrifying. Watch me live – you never know what might happen.

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Social Media in a shirt

I’m off to Twestival tomorrow. There will be 700 of us in London, and thousands around the world, doing the same thing on the same day; networking, having fun, drinking wine, and raising money for Charity:Water

This post is not about that though. If you want to read about the great work being done by the Twestival organisers and the charity, click on the links above, and if you want to know why I helped to have the wine sponsored in London, read my post here.

This is about doing something a little different with my blog – getting out from behind the screen and meeting lots of interesting people who currently have no interest in reading my blogs, but who just might. Networking events like this, and those promoted on sites like Meetup.com are a great strategy for getting new ideas, new readers and new partnerships.

This is part of my approach:

Becoming known as a blogger takes effort, and not all of it needs to be online. Sometimes bloggers get so caught up in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Google Ranks, etc. that they forget that one of the most important things about writing a blog, and using twitter, is the possibility it offers to connect with REAL people.

Having a blog gives me a reason to network with other bloggers, and have something in common with them from the start. We can then explore whether there are any other ways we can cooperate – and maybe get them to read, interact and contribute to my blog, and vice versa.

Tomorrow night I’ll be doing just that, and I’m using the combined efforts of a shirt designer (Blaqua), a printer with great social equity (moo) and a little ingenuity.

I’ve had my friend add a small, unobtrusive pocket to this shirt so I can carry around my Mini Moo cards and always have them on hand to share with interesting contacts.

A bit of fun, and a bit of social media marketing in the offline world

[UPDATE 13/2/09: the event last night went extremely well, and the shirt went down a storm. I met SO many wonderful people and I'm glad to report at least some recognised me just form the shirt. Job done! Also, Moo.com liked the idea so much they'll be writing about it in their newsletter. If you've come from there, leave me a comment.

I'll be writing a follow up post with details of where & how you might get one of these limited edition shirts very soon, so subscribe to my feed and stay in touch]

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Update on Reaching the Wine Drinker

I’m still waiting to see the reaction from traditional wine press sources (if any), but the “Beyond the TradeTwitter Taste Live event at the Bibendum tasting was a great success.

We had even more participants both at the tasting and at homes & offices around the UK than I expected and the feedback has been incredible.

You can even see one of the many videos taken on the day (thanks to @documentally), just before we kicked off the tasting:

A quick glance at the results shows that there were at least 300 posts on Twitter in the 45 minutes or so we discussed the three wines, and in that time this event become the Number 1 discussed topic on Twitter GLOBALLY (beating Obama himself the day after his inauguration, albeit for a few minutes only).

However, the best part of the event was the numerous comments from non wine experts, but wine consumers, about how they had found so much pleasure in tasting wines, sharing the experience and learning some new stuff, such as tasting varieties or wines from countries like Austria for the very first time.

What better example does anyone in the wine business need, or in any business for that matter, that there are wonderful opportunities out there to engage and educate consumers in ways that are relevant and fun?

I’ll post a round up of comments and feedback soon, but in the meantime, START EXPLORING SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY!

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Reaching the wine drinker

LIWF 2008
Image by RobWinton via Flickr

The UK wine trade has lots of events where we pour, taste, buy and sell wine, but the majority of the big events are “trade only” events where professional buyers, writers and winery representatives such as agents, importers and distributors, get together to do deals.

The great news is that the quality of wine being made is arguably as good as it has ever been, and the buyers themselves are also better qualified to choose wines for their businesses.

But someone is missing from the picture. The drinker.

Of course, the UK consumer is always on the mind of wine makers and importers, and certainly of the businesses that will ultimately sell them the wine. Yet, how often do these businesses make decisions based on feedback directly from their ultimate customers?

One of the reasons I bang on about Social Media for wine so much is that it allows all of us, whatever our role in the wine value chain, to hear directly from a whole range of consumers about their tastes in brands and products, including wine. Today, that audience is still somewhat limited to the more technically minded (i.e. geeky) but this is changing VERY fast.

I am very excited, therefore, about the possibilities offered by the combination of wine and Twitter‘s short, focused and public messaging as is being used by twittertastelive.com – in fact I like it so much I am involved in helping to bring this idea to a broader UK and European audience.

I used this in December as well, but this time we are giving consumers and influencers outside the wine trade the chance to give some feedback on wines during one of the most important UK trade events, Bibendum Wine Ltd’s Annual Tasting. I must state for the record that 1) Bibendum is the company that imports the wines I work for and 2) we will be tasting one of these wines as part of the event, namely the Dinastia Vivanco Crianza. However, no-one will be filtering the results or comments so I hope you’ll accept this minor potential conflict of interest.

From 4pm tomorrow (21st January 2009), there will be a group of food, wine and media bloggers gathered together at Bibendum’s physical event (at the Saatchi Gallery in London) and another 8 or more individuals and groups around the country particpating remotely. Each will taste the three wines and exchange tasting notes, comments, questions and desperate demands for refills using twitter. Click here to read more about “Beyond the Trade“.

Follow along on twitter by following me (@thirstforwine) and the others listed below, and look out for tweets with the code #ttl

I’ll report back on the success, or otherwise, later in the week.

The participants will include:

@bibendumwine
@thirstforwine
@documentally
@sizemore
@loudmouthman
@eatlikeagirl
@hollowlegs
@chrispople
@foodstories
@wmjohn
@bigbluemeanie
@jonthebeef
@mackney
@fraseredwards
@rjbirkin
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Can you make money on twitter from wine with breakfast?

If you have ever heard of Twitter, whether you have joined or not, you’ll probably recognise the truth and comedy in this (click on the image to go to original site and make it larger):

Tweet Your Breakfast

Tweet Your Breakfast - from wheres my jetpack

In summary;

Twitter is really a waste of time because it is full of people with nothing better or more interesting to do than tell you what they had for breakfast.

TRUE! and FALSE!

Yes, there are a lot of people who are talking about what they are doing, what they like, dislike and want information on. Some of it is trivial, some of it is not. But, and this is a BIG BUT, you would be wrong to assume it isn’t valuable.

First, consider that we are all preening social animals, so what we project on twitter says something about us and how we want to be seen. It is important to someone.

Second, it is a shared activity that builds networks of friends and contacts who might then go on and do what you might consider “interesting”, so there is always a benefit in it

Third, let’s put an entrepreneurial hat on for a moment. If there are around 3-4m twitter users (recent estimate) telling you what they are buying, eating and drinking for breakfast, is this not UNBELIEVABLY useful for breakfast providers: coffee brands, cereal brands, diet snake-oil-salesmen, media companies and more?

In fact, I’d go so far as saying that breakfast tweets (and their like) are the most monetisable elements of twitter. No joke.

If you are a wine producer you should already be searching and monitoring the Twitterverse for mentions of your wines or even your direct competitors’. If they are doing it with breakfast, they are probably also doing it with lunch (#lunchtweet) and dinner … including what they drank (the audience is definitely skewed towards a wine drinking profile, see some stats here)

If they mention your wine, the users are doing your word of mouth marketing, FREE. They are also potentially spreading bad reviews (maybe because of corked bottles or poor retail experiences) or misunderstandings about your product or brand. You can easily address these by responding in a timely way. You don’t even need to spend much time on twitter for this benefit, just set up an alert and you’re done. The information comes to you. This is a fantastic opportunity.

If they are not talking about your wine, why not?

The full benefit of Twitter comes from getting involved and becoming part of the many informal networks. There are wine bloggers, wine merchants, journalists, collectors, wine makers and wine consumers already there. They exchange information, link, reviews, suggestions and advice. There are plenty of opportunities to contribute, for example participating in online chats, online wine tastings, or maybe offering a unique view of your wine region. Could you not afford a little time to contribute and therefore also share the benefits? If you do, please link to me (@thirstfowine) and send me a tweet

Twitter is only a tool, still with a limited reach, but a potentially very useful one.

Things to do NOW:

  1. Search for your brands and key terms on Twitter
  2. Check out some wine twitterers (or visit my page and link off to others that you find interesting)
  3. Sign up for an account – OWN YOUR NAME!
  4. Respond to customers in a positive way – but don’t preach or ‘sell’ (not until you have twitter street cred)
  5. Join the fun. Follow some people and get to see how it works first hand
  6. Spread the word and get other interesting people involved

Image above borrowed from Where’s My Jetpack - check it out!

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