In recent years there has been a sea-change in wine thanks to social media, the internet, increased access to information about wine and to wineries around the world, and advocates like Gary Vaynerchuk and Matthew Horbund.
Where before, wine was perceived as an indulgence of the upper class, it's now accessible to the masses, and this is thanks in large part to how wineries and wine lovers are using social media.
One of the first examples of a winery going "all in" with social media was the Murphy-Goode Winery. It ran a campaign to hire a person for "A Really Goode Job" - 6 months of being the social media face for Murphy-Goode to the tune of $10,000 per month (a really good job, indeed!). Applicants sent in videos from all over the world, not only netting Murphy-Goode fantastic publicity and raising the awareness of the wine it creates, but spreading good will and positive brand image on the way.
Gary Vaynerchuk brought us WineLibrary TV - putting a fun, in your face spin on enjoying wine and advancing the success of his business, Wine Library, in the process. Additionally, he leveraged his extreme success into another business, VaynerMedia, and into a lucrative and busy speaking career. Gary has become the face of wine online - who else can do a paring of wine and breakfast cereal and get away with it?
Two of my current favorite wineries (both online and in my wine cellar), Twisted Oak and GrGich Hills, are active online. Twisted Oak has leveraged rubber chickens, a sense of humor and an active Facebook page and Facebook store into a loyal following for its wine club. I know I look forward to wine, pirates and chickens with every shipment, and the things people say about the wine (and the surprises in the box) are fantastic examples of loyal user endorsements and advocacy for a brand online. GrGich Hills is a boutique Napa winery leveraging Twitter for real time engagement with it's loyal fans.
The savvy winery is becoming an active participant in its own marketing and influencer outreach. Because wine is so personal, wineries are ideally suited to find success in this space. In fact, I'd say any local or boutique winery not active in social media is leaving money on the table. Why pass up an unprecedented chance to reach new people who will love your product and keep them coming back for more?
What should the savvy winery be doing in social media right now? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Get on Pinterest: Wineries are ideally suited for Pinterest. Vineyard Brands is doing a great job - who's your favorite winery on Pinterest?
- Get on Twitter! You have a vertical where the tendency of Twitter users to obsess about food and drink works to your advantage. Be there! Use the many chances to engage well.
- Think about an online store. Twisted Oak has both a web store on its site and a Facebook portal. This is working well for them, but may not work for you. People need a way to buy your wine online if their state permits it.
- Encourage customer reviews. I know your wines are your children, made with love and care, and it hard to risk hearing critiques. Encourage reviews anyway - every wine has fans out there waiting to love it and waiting to let you know.
- Facebook may not work for your winery. Use with caution, but definitely investigate it.
- Google+ is a fantastic place for wineries to have a page and an environment full of wine lovers. Make sure you are there, even if only as an outpost.
- Blog, blog, blog! About your wines, your process, your staff, your vineyard, your grapes, your region - anything!
- Create shareable moments and occasions. Have events at your winery and make them into experiences worth writing about, Instagramming and more.
- Try to avoid trends like QR codes on bottles unless you are going to make them truly useful. A QR code that goes to a video review of your wine while I'm in the store in much more useful to me than one that goes to your web site's front page with no info.
- Have fun and show your love for your wine. People respond well to wineries that are genuine.
[Image: Wikimedia Commons]