“Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it. – Steven Wright”
Never a truer statement spoken. Winemakers live by this motto as they craft their blends, each year learning from the previous year’s mistakes. This is why we have regions tied to single grapes, or styles of winemaking. Without others’ failures and triumphs we would not have Pinot Noir in Burgundy, Sherry in Jerez, and Port in Portugal.
Sadly, however, lack of experience often stops people from trying new things, afraid that the experience they seek is a prerequisite to trying something new. It’s not. There are many ways to gain experience, both by trial and error or from building on the experiments of others.
Surprisingly, today many wineries are still waiting to see if social media works. Ryan O’Connell of O’Vineyards recently heard a press attaché in France tell a group of winemakers the following:
“…you can’t share a story on sites like facebook or twitter. She also highly distrusts blogs and advises winemakers to be skeptical toward them. She assures us that she isn’t on facebook….”(via)
It’s time we all move on. Social media does work. End of story. Blogs are just publishing tools, and bloggers are people that use them. Facebook and Twitter are communities, and at any time in the history of the world, communities can be found building commerce, telling stories and sharing ideas.
If you don’t believe it go out and look at the experience of others, and then join the conversation with the rest of us, using our experience as you see fit.
Success Stories (feel free to ask them what they think):
Last week’s Access Zone activities at the 2011 London International Wine Fair (LIWF) were not only great fun and a way to spread the word about social media in wine, but they seemed to strike a chord with the wine trade present.
Gabriella, Ryan and I were very pleased with the buzz around the fair and online about the range of events, seminars, projects and announcements that Vrazon helped to make happen on the relatively small space of the Access Zone. After all, that was the idea. This wasn’t intended to be another “theatre” for presentations, but an interactive space where we could start discussions with a presentation, then have as much participation as possible. As Ryan Opaz observed:
“The only way this will work is if the audience interrupts a lot.”
Every major announcement was well attended, with participants filling the aisles and following on the livestream. We are extremely grateful to all those who took the time out to listen, ask questions, answer queries and generally make the experience of the LIWF as useful as possible.
The archive of the live access zone video and interviews can now be browsed; more polished videos will take a little longer, but BIG thanks to MadCatMedia for making the magic happen
Day 1 – Tuesday 17th May
The Access Zone really kicked off with two big events on Tuesday – the social media Q&A sessions with ourselves and other volunteers, and the launch of the Disrupt Wine (you will be able to learn a lot more about the Disrupt Wine on the dedicated site being built).
Where else would you get the combined talents and different perspectives of Wink Lorch, Louise Hurren, Andre Ribeirinho and Ryan O’Connell on a roundtable? It was a lot of fun for Ryan and me to moderate and be involved in. The overall message from these discussions could probably be summed up a:
“Be yourself, and good stuff will happen”
It was also amazing to be able to create a blend of three different varieties from three different winemakers in three different countries – and made on the stand! We are very grateful to Thierry’s who took the brave step of returning to exhibit at the LIWF by investing in a stand that would sit alongside the Access Zone. Most importantly, they also agreed to the concept of developing a pan-European wine blend on the stand in only three days. It was a privilege to work with Markus Huber (of Weingut Huber in Austria), Emmanuel Laurent (of Rodet in Burgundy) and Giorgio Flessati (of Viña Falernia in Italy) on this project. Evidence, if any was needed, of their own commitment to doing something different and offering creative, fresh thinking to the UK wine trade.
We ended the day with the visit by Naked Wines and their archangels, learning about their latest developments and watched them select a range of new wines. Naked Wines are now also listing the Disrupt Wine on their new marketplace – do check it out and get involved.
Day 2 – Wednesday 18th May
The Wednesday was time to showcase Vrazon‘s other main projects, the Born Digital Wine Awards (BDWA) and the European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC). Congratulations to all the winners and runners up in each of the 5 categories of the inaugural BDWA, many of whom, like Wink Lorch, Tim Atkin, Richard Ross and Mark Ryan were on the stand to hear the results. The response was wonderful, particularly as there were some very deserving finalists in the spotlight, including both new names as well as established writers. Congratulations to all of them!
For more details and a full list of finalists and winners, visit http://borndigitalwineawards.com
We also took the opportunity to announce the overall theme for the fourth edition of the European Wine Bloggers Conference, which will be “Storytelling“, and that George Taber will be our first keynote speaker. Of course, this was all accompanied with a delicious glass of Franciacorta from our host sponsors for 2011. Please visit the EWBC site for more information, and if you are thinking of coming, please do book your tickets soon as the number of tickets is fixed and we anticipate them selling out early again this year.
But it wasn’t all about us, it was also a chance for Ryan O’Connell’s to give hints and tips for wineries looking to take advantage of social media, and to hear more about what Palate Press is up to to help wine bloggers make money from their blogs – check them out!
Day 3 – Thursday 19th May: The final day
The final day was once again dedicated largely to Disrupt Wine – selecting the delicious winning blend (50% Gruner Veltliner, 40% Falanghina and 10% Macon Chardonnay) as well as unveiling the label design incorporating the audience’s own tasting note contributions.
On top of all this there were dozens of great interviews with bloggers, publishers, retailers and winemakers, open tasting sessions and PLENTY of networking, much of it brought to you live but also recorded to watch again.
We hope all those who made it to the stand got something out of it. Not everyone at the fair will have seen the value of Social Media in wine, and it certainly is not a tool to replace everything that is done to sell and promote wine, but it is a great complement for the best brands and people, and we hope to see more great stories being told after this event.
These were three intense days, but with the help of our many friends listed here, as well as the organisers of the LIWF, and Thierry’s, we feel it was all worthwhile for all those involved.
See you next year!
Robert McIntosh, Gabriella Opaz & Ryan Opaz
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:
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:
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.
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.