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Developing Your Winery’s Social Media Strategy: Communities

2010 February 11

Part 3

This is the third in a series of six articles on questions you should ask when developing a social media strategy for your winery. This article is about which tools to use. You may want to start at the beginning with the first article on goals.

Developing Your Winery’s Social Media Strategy: Communities

Where should you be in the social media universe?

Take a look at this fairly comprehensive infographic on all the social platforms for conversation. Kind of overwhelming, isn’t it? So how do you know where to begin? Well, let’s start with a simple question: what communities are your audience using? It would only make sense to become part of the same communities as your customers, but you want to be sure it’s worth your efforts.

Here’s another infographic—though somewhat dated—that gives you an idea of some of the major players in the social media arena and how many users they have. What this doesn’t tell you is who is using these platforms and where. After all, joining Qzone.qq.com won’t do you much good unless you can read Chinese and are planning to sell to the Chinese market. For most wineries, I think it’s safe to agree that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and your own blog are great starting points. There are other communities, such as the Wine Consortium, Wine 2.0, CellarTracker, Snooth, Cork’d and others, but I think I’ll save that for another post.

Should I blog?

Absolutely. Your winery blog should feed right into your website. There are widgets available to do that. Your website should be the hub of your social media presence or as this infographic shows, it’s the center of your marketing efforts. Which blogging platform should I use? I’ve used Blogger, Movable Type and WordPress, but I’ve stuck with WordPress for several reasons.

  • It’s very easy to get started with WordPress. You don’t even need to know HTML or CSS.
  • Adding photos, video, audio and other media is a snap.
  • WordPress has huge community support and developers creating new and useful widgets for it.
  • It’s easy to customize with plugins, widgets and themes.
  • If you need to match an existing web site’s look, the Thesis theme is what you need.
  • Best of all, it’s FREE. Most web hosting services offer it as a standard application and it’s easy to install.

I recommend that you host your blog with your current web hosting provider. While you can use WordPress.com to start your blog, you won’t have access to all the great plugins unless you host your own blog. In addition, transferring from WordPress.com to your own host later is not for the faint of heart. Images must be handled separately and you need to export an XML file that needs to be imported to your new site. If all this is Greek to you, you’re better off just starting your blog on your own domain. Need more guidance? Write to me.

Are you using the tools correctly?

In woodworking, I learned that there is a proper tool for every job. But if you don’t know how to use that tool correctly, you’re not going to be happy with the results. The same can be said of social media. To effectively use these social media tools, you need to learn the proper netiquette for each community.

For instance, on Facebook, you should create an account for yourself as a person with your real name and a picture of yourself. People want to see a photo of you, not your logo. Tell people where you work and what you do there. Reveal only as much as you’re comfortable telling strangers. For your winery or where you work, create a fan page where you and your fans can post information, photos and video of the winery. Here’s where you can use that logo. Become friends with other people and invite them to become a fan of your winery through the fan page. Don’t set up your winery as a personal account. Why? Because personal accounts are for individuals; fan pages are for a brand, organization, business or celebrity. While Facebook doesn’t enforce these rules now, they are known to change policies quite often and you could end up having to change your personal account or worse, lose it.

Each community has its own protocols and you should try to learn them before you start blasting out unwelcome marketing content. Here’s a great little article on Twitter Tips by Rick Bakas. While he specifically targets wineries, these are good suggestions for any company. Do you have any great tips or recommendations for communities to join? Please share it.

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