Tag Archives: Social network

Value of social media tools: a wine label example

Do you doubt the ability of Twitter to offer valuable and tangible business benefits? Then check out this little example.

I was at the Wines from Spain tasting today and I met Sarah. In fact we were already “friends” on twitter in our various alter-egos as @thirstforwine and @bottlegreenltd but had not really met in person. In any case, this twitter-enabled chat encouraged us to taste some of each others’ wines, and in the process I was asked what I thought of this label:

Knowing that such things are subjective, I thought I’d ask for wider input, so I shared the photo with twitter. Within 20 minutes, I had 15-20 responses to be able to gauge a more general view. In this case, unlike my own personal luke-warm stance, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Check out some of the reactions below (some are not included as the messages are private):

  1. JohnG
    quaffability @thirstforwine I do like. Very nicely executed. But my first reaction is that it’s vermouth, and I think that is a problem.
  2. ryanopaz
    ryanopaz @thirstforwine Love the new label…nice and retro! 🙂
  3. Duarte Da Silva
    wineboffin I like it. RT @thirstforwine: http://twitpic.com/17xb65 – A new ‘retro’ Rioja label. What do you think? Like?
  4. Justin Liddle
  5. Fields Morris Verdin
  6. Champagne Warehouse
  7. Somewhere is Jeannie
  8. Joanna Harris
    joanna_h85 Love them!! RT @elliott_people: @thirstforwine – Bottlegreen are a great company, fab people and product!
  9. Golly Gumdrops
    GollyGD @thirstforwine It’s attractive, but at first glance I’d think – ooo is that Cafe Rouge’s new house wine label?
  10. Seven Springs Wine
    7SpringsWine @thirstforwine Yes I like it, different, standoutish on the shelves, looks a bit ‘devilish’. Tim
  11. Emma Blackmore
  12. Laura Lindsay
  13. Int'l Wine Challenge
  14. Àlex Duran
    AlexDuran_ Fine! RT: @thirstforwine: http://twitpic.com/17xb65 – A new ‘retro’ Rioja label. What do you think? Like?
  15. Richie Roberts
    RichieWine Great label… RT @thirstforwine: http://twitpic.com/17xb65 – A new ‘retro’ Rioja label. What do you think? Like? (via @wineboffin)
  16. Nayan Gowda
    vinosity @WineChallenge @thirstforwine I would say more Nouveau than Deco, but I also like it a lot.
  17. Chris Carter
    ccarter126 Classy RT @thirstforwine: http://twitpic.com/17xb65 – A new ‘retro’ Rioja label. What do you think? Like?

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How about that for value for business? With a properly planned out strategy for getting input and feedback from fans, friends and consumers in general, twitter and other social media tools can be very useful without being complicated or time-consuming. And they can be fun too!

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The value of a tasting note

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Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time, I even drafted a post, but recent events have prompted me to complete it.

What is a single tasting note worth?

Ryan Opaz of Catavino recently asked this question on twitter after a discussion we had, and it still has me thinking.

I suppose one could argue that tasting notes are worth exactly what you pay for them. In most cases, such as blogs, wine social networks and twitter, the answer is NOTHING. They are free! They are given away as they are shared by those tasting wines mainly for their own enjoyment.

But this is only part of the story. There are those sites that do charge to give you access to information such as tasting notes. In addition, even if consumers are not paying for tasting notes, that is not to say they are not “worth” something to someone.

Subscription Sites

There are sites where some of the key ‘value’ are the tasting notes on offer – not because they are tasting notes as such, but because they are buying advice (e.g. The Wine Gang) or “insider information” on the potential future value of premium wines (e.g. JancisRobinson.com on En Primeur)

There will always be a small number of people willing to pay for these sites to get this information rather than searching through multiple sites or waiting to personally taste wines they mean to buy – which may not even be possible. The question is whether there are enough of them to make a site profitable.

Social Networks

On the other hand, there are many social networks out there (e.g. Snooth, Adegga, etc.) where the tasting notes themselves are free content. They still represent value for people, but this is exchanged for attracting more friends & followers or becoming known as a reliable expert. The value is in social recognition, something some might call Whuffie or ‘Social Capital

And then there is the law …

What prompted me to write this today was the Decanter story that a journalist, Martin Isark, is suing Majestic for using his tasting note to promote a wine called “Cuvée de Richard Vin de Pays de l’Aude”. He wrote a note which apparently included the words “incredible value” in a newspaper in 2001 – and apparently Majestic have been using those words, attached to his name, ever since to promote subsequent vintages. So now, he is claiming £50,000 in damages for “‘false endorsements’ and ‘infringement of copyright'” to get them to stop according to the story (NB. I’m no lawyer, I’m only reporting information available on other sites).

Whilst I agree that the note is [arguably] false endorsement if they do not clearly show it was for a (much) older vintage, it makes you wonder how much Martin Isark thinks that endorsement is worth if the “damage” is £50,000 (as far as I know the UK law does not allow for punitive damages). I’m sure that Majestic will have sold some additional bottles of the back of the note, but that would be a LOT of bottles. And what about the benefits to Mr Isark (who, I must admit, I had not heard of before this incident)? He has had his name promoted to thousands of Majestic customers over the years – could he not have made something positive of this, offering to review (accurately and honestly) future vintages or more wines?

So, the question remains, how much is a tasting note worth?

Like any content, tasting notes have value and with the right ‘context’ there are ways to make them generate money for someone – let’s just hope it isn’t all for the lawyers, but for wine writers and drinkers instead!

[full disclosure: I am married to a lawyer, and benefit greatly from the good work that lawyers do 🙂 ]

[UPDATE 20/11/09 14:23: On closer examination, Martin Isark answers the question on his website. The answer, at least for Martin Isark is: £15,000 PLUS 2% of sales as a royalty payment. This is astronomically high, and also makes one wonder about the potential ethical issues of journalists receiving royalties on related sales. Of course, he can name whatever price he wants, but I wonder whether anyone would really accept this value as realistic? If so, I need to start writing more tasting notes 😉]

[UPDATE 20/11/09 14:27: inserted the word “arguably” in para 9 erroneously missed off original post!]

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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.


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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