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How to improve the use of social media in the wine business?

Social WineIntroduction: For over 3 years, we have worked closely with the Burgundy School of Business both as a company – hiring interns to work with the EWBC, and as a research engine – helping us conduct field studies on various subjects. This year, Aymeric Dehont conducted a host of research for us, which eventually inspired him to create a paper on the fragile relationship between wine and social media. We appreciate Aymeric’s hard work putting together his thoughts and trust you will share your feedback with him. Keep in mind this is from a very European perspective. 

How to improve the use of social media in the wine business?

Introduction:

As a Masters student in Wine Business in Dijon, the regional capital of Burgundy, I’ve continuously questioned myself on many issues within the wine and spirits sector. Yet, one of the most debated subjects has been the apparent effectiveness of social media. After attending the EWBC – Digital Wine Communications Conference, I have come to under that the wine & spirits industry, in general, hasn’t succeeded in its use of these new tools. Therefore, I wanted to get a better understanding on how to improve digital communication and what would be the ideal online strategy to follow.

This paper will provide a brief analysis of how social media is currently affecting the wine industry based on articles, marketing analysis and knowledge.

Social media and the impact on marketing

It is true that social media has attracted an inordinate amount of people over the last two decades and currently, almost everyone is using at least one of its platforms. In large part, this is because interaction between each other, and the community, has always been a basic need for humans, referring to the very famous Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid.

As observed in the Nielsen Social Media Report 2012, social media is mainly used when watching TV in order to interact and function as ‘social care’ for customer service. Approximately, 47% of social media users were actively involved in social care. In 2011, more than 80% of the Fortune 500 companies were using some form of social media to connect with consumers.

Companies that are using these tools efficiently are not advertising, but instead creating bonds between themselves and the consumer; thereby establishing loyalty. The customer isn’t considered as an asset anymore, but as a person to interact with and to satisfy. Bear in mind that social media is made to connect remotely between humans, and being “connected” means interacting with each other. Advertizing is not an effective means to create a relationship with people, but rather a means to provide a straightforward message to the consumer without receiving direct feedback. 30% of consumers found advertising on social media annoying and only 25% are willing to pay attention to it, which proves that the use of social media is totally different from regular advertizing campaigns.

Moreover, the Nielsen report tells us how social media has impacted modern marketing. Indeed, consumers are now hyper-informed on many products; they continuously need to know more about the product or service they intend to purchase and want feedback from other purchasers through word of mouth. Social media limits uncertainty before purchase, and increases transparency of companies because the consumer gets involved and can have access to the company, thanks to direct contact with employees.

“Social media is word of mouth on steroids” said Amanda Hite, founder of Talent Revolution; Word of mouth is a major communication tool for the wine industry. Indeed, 80% of online shoppers are guided by reviews from other consumers. This is logical considering that shopping remains a social activity where people can interact with each other and share opinions on products. When you buy online, companies want to recreate this interaction between buyers through a digital experience by keeping that community feeling alive. Moreover social media helps to engage customers with brands and companies to change their advertising techniques. In other words, this is what we call Web 2.0, a place to SHARE and INTERACT with each other.

The internet user becomes the one who can tell the stories. For instance, France 24 opened a website, The Observers, where everyone can share daily news content. The pictures they took, the videos they recorded and, moreover, the events they have lived, can be shared on this platform and remain present well into the future. This is a great example of how people directly share experiences and opinions digitally using social media.

What about in the wine and spirits sector?

During the EWBC, I realized that social media hasn’t within the wine industry simply because they aren’t listening to the consumer. The industry believes that it is the consumer who must be better informed and more actively involved, not the company itself. For instance, in this advertisement from the Center For Wine Origins, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUePmgc5HJQ, you quickly notice that they tell the consumer to “understand the terroir”. In other words, they are teaching consumers how to enjoy wine, as opposed to providing information that the consumer wants. Result: 74 views after 1 year!

So how do we improve the use of social media in the wine and spirit sector?

The wine industry, mainly in the US, provides us with several great examples of efficient strategies to follow. Let’s focus on some of them:

I really enjoyed the story of Barefoot Wines because it shows how small wineries can compete with big groups, thanks to online communication strategies and social media. Indeed, Barefoot Wines now has 4 times more followers than Jacob’s Creek with 370,000 likes on Facebook (135,000 for Jacob’s Creek) and more than 10,000 followers on Twitter (2,000 for Jacob’s Creek). Why the huge difference? Only because there is someone at Barefoot Wines who is constantly behind his computer interacting with people on several social media platforms.

Engagement is crucial to create a real relationship with people. Gary Vaynerchuck, founder of VaynerMedia, said he can spend 4 to 5 hours a day on Twitter to answer each tweet he receives. Nowadays, he has nearly one million followers. This is a great example of how to succeed in attracting people’s attention using social media.

Another interesting story is the one of the Pacific Rim winery, which invested around $10,000 in a social media campaign, in cooperation with two social media agencies: Grow Creative and Anvil Media. Their objective was to digitally educate consumers to gain market share with the retailers with an active communications campaign. To do so, they both created a website, rieslingrules.com and released a book “Riesling Rules Book” (65,000 books sold at this date), to be the leading voices om Riesling wines. The use of social media came later when people started to share their increasing passion for those wines and interact with each other and the winery itself. More than 30,000 people liked the Facebook page. Up until now, Pacific Rim succeeded in creating brand awareness and a fan base online.

Social media in the wine industry creates the opportunity for consumers to rate wines based on what they like. The use of applications on smart phones, commonly called “apps”, is extremely valuable for the wine industry because it allows consumers can say what they like, not based on “expert” opinion, but rather on their personal preferences.

In the end, wine is just a drink, but one which links people to each other, and social media is a tool to recreate that interaction online. With Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr, people can share their experiences related to wine and companies can help people connect with each other. A winery available, listening and interacting online with the consumer is a winery which is increasing its brand awareness.

In conclusion

We see that social media in the wine industry is generally being used more frequently and effectively in new world countries. The old world wine countries are still conservative, waiting for the new generation to come up and change the trends.

Social media also creates jobs, as community managers have become more attractive to companies to ensure a successful online presence and use of social media. The objective is to be customer oriented, able to be connected, listening and understanding the consumer’s needs. A simple and basic rule of marketing which the wine industry often forgets …

References:

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Engage or Get Out – Don’t waste your time with Social Media

So you have a Facebook page? Great! And a twitter account? Bravo! Even posted a couple of photos, maybe uploaded a video? Good for you. What?? You say you even have a blog? You’ve posted an article or two and have comments enabled? Wow, great job! You’re on your way. Now just stick in there for a few more months, or even years, and you’ll be headed in the right direction!

Today, as I wander around the internet, I see more and more blue and white icons showing up on winery websites as I poke about online. Little reminders that businesses are getting online and “engaging” the consumer. Yet today I want to call Bulls***!

Social media is “social”

Seriously, you do not get points for putting an icon on your website. You do not get credit for being ‘engaged’ because you have a Facebook page. Most of all, you do not get benefits from just pretending to play the game. Social media is about being a social being. I know it’s hard to believe but it is. It’s not just a marketing tool, it’s a way of living. It’s a change in how you think about your consumer. It’s a conversation that actually takes place online, with real people. It’s a conversation that also tends to jump offline into the real world from time to time.

If you want to use Twitter/Facebook, or even start a blog, be ready to change what you’re doing. Don’t come to me and ask “How do we keep doing what we’re doing but at the same time appear more social” because the answer is YOU CAN’T!

If you really want to use Twitter to build your brand, start asking people questions, start engaging your followers, start playing the game. Don’t bother putting up a twitter logo unless you’re going to answer anyone who sends you a tweet! It’s not worth your time, and in the end it will just make you look bad.

If you can’t respond to people who ask you questions on Twitter, or engage in conversations in your blog’s comments, the humans that use these tools will notice, and then they will ignore you. If you don’t want to engage, stick to traditional marketing. It still works, and it can work well. Stick to that, and stay there till you are ready to commit, or ready to hire someone to do it on your behalf.

Just remember that while you can still get away without the “social web” today, those days are numbered, plus the cost of catching up to others later on is getting higher. Social media engagement is at its core an investment of sweat equity. There are no silver bullets. The sooner you start, the easier it will be.  The longer you wait, the sillier you’re going to look.

Get going! Follow me: @ryanopaz – And if you don’t know how to, well then you have a lot to learn.

Ryan

Image via: Daddy Design

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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:

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Should We All Quit Facebook? Not Yet (IMHO)

Don't quit, Mike!
Image by SuziJane via Flickr

Last week, the brilliant Josh Hermsmeyer at Capozzi Winery (also known as @PinotBlogger) posted a controversial post entitled: Why I Quit Facebook, And Why Wineries Should As Well – it is well worth a read.

Josh manages to combine a great marketing mind with a brilliant passion for making wine, great technical knowledge and an ability to communicate (yes, a bit of a hero to me). It is just a shame that I may never get a chance to taste his wines. However, his posts are always worth reading.

Having said that, I disagree with him on this one.

The conclusion of his post is summed up as:

Bottom line: Even if you never plan to advertise or otherwise leverage Facebook’s “social graph,” You do not want your brand tainted, even by association, by the sh*tstorm that is engulfing Facebook.

His argument is that the kinds of activities that Facebook has been accused of entering into should not be condoned, and that if you are a winery (or any business) on Facebook, you will be tainted by it by association:

… there can be no doubt that the risks of maintaining a presence on, and thus providing a tacit endorsement of, Facebook far outweigh any benefits you can possibly think to imagine. Act accordingly.

You can read his report and plenty other reports out there about what Facebook is accused of doing, but essentially it seems to be about breach of trust. In his view, that breach is so serious that he simply cannot be part of the network. That is his decision. It is also the conclusion of many other influential individuals such as Jason Calacanis and many thousands of others.

I respect Josh’s principled stand. In the comments he says:

Even if you are using Facebook just to have a conversation where your customers are, you are tacitly endorsing the medium. I can’t do that any longer. I owe the peeps more than just looking out for my brand’s interests.

My actions are communicating to them louder than any wall post what I value, what Capozzi values, and where we draw the line in terms of where commerce ends and a trusting, worthwhile relationship begins.

Wineries who are on Facebook may well be there simply to engage with their customers around the world. This is still one of the best places to do that, even if I do recommend that this is just a means of taking that relationship elsewhere (like a winery’s own blog).

Essentially, I don’t believe that having a business presence on Facebook “tacitly endorses” whatever may or may not be going on behind the scenes between Facebook and their advertisers with our data any more than running a local wine shop “endorses” dubious commercial property deals by banks.

Wineries NEED to communicate with their customers, and if the customers are on Facebook and are willing and eager to engage there, then wineries will have a presence there. IF there are privacy concerns, there is no “ethical duty” to disengage with the network. It is not the business’ or brands’ role to make decisions for their customers about these things. As long as they are part of the network they can & should lobby for things to change and do their best to communicate this to their friends and customers.

“The REAL issue is that this is a closed network that is trying to justify, and monetise, itself …”

As I write this I hear that new privacy arrangements are being made by Facebook. I’m dubious that this will quell the discontent fully.

The REAL issue is that this is a closed network that is trying to justify, and monetise, itself by getting bigger and offering even more options to everyone. I don’t believe it can do this without getting too complex. It is getting so big that the revenues it needs to achieve become astronomical, encouraging “extreme” behaviour. We need to keep an eye out and complain, but not necessarily run away.

There is a precent for this. AOL grew exponentially by educating millions of us about the internet. However, eventually we grew tired of the walled playground and we left it for the more exciting WWW. Facebook introduced many individuals and businesses to the Social Web. The time will come when many of them will cut the apron strings and venture off into the wider social world. But not yet.

——————-

Please read Josh’s full post AND the comments. This is a wonderful example of what kind of conversation a blog can create. This is Josh’s topic, but anyone can respond, disagree or agree, and he engages with all of them to clarify and refine the message.

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