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Developing Your Winery’s Social Media Strategy: Control

2010 February 17

Part 4

This is the fourth in a series of six articles on questions you should ask when developing a social media strategy for your winery. This article is about control, and how you will deal with your brand’s perception. If this is the first article you found, you may want to start at the beginning with the first article on goals.

Developing Your Winery’s Social Media Strategy: Control

How will you maintain control of your brand?

Within the realm of social media most actions are irrelevant or out of your control. That’s the yellow sphere in the graphic below. This includes who tries your wines, what they write about them and who will read it.

Then there are those things about your brand that you can control, represented by the red sphere. This is a relatively small portion which includes the wine itself, your packaging and visual design and presenting a consistent message about your wines and your brand. This where a tool such as OwnIT and Cruvee can help. They can help you manage how your wine is represented online.

And then there is that green area—your sphere of influence. While you can’t control anyone in the blogosphere, you certainly can influence people. This sphere of influence is greater than your sphere of control, but is smaller than that which we cannot control. (It kind of reminds of the serenity prayer: grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…) It is here that you can have the greatest impact on your social media success. But that leads to another question…

Who are the influencers?

Who do your customers trust? Where do they turn for information or opinion? Who is blogging about your brand right now? Tom Wark recently posted an excellent article on his Fermentation blog about the influence of wine blogs, where he determines that who your influencers are will depend on what you are trying to sell. You should read the post, but basically, if you’re selling 500,000 cases of $9 wine, your audience isn’t likely to be reading Wine Spectator and therefore, that magazine isn’t a influencer of your brand. However, if you’re selling 2,000 cases of $60 wine, then sending bottles to a blog that reviews wines under $10 obviously won’t influence the customers you’re targeting, but receiving a favorable Wine Spectator rating on that $60 wine will probably help you sell more. The point is to know your customer and where they’re reading about your wine and you’ll know with whom you need to be working.

Are you willing to let people talk about your brand?

Ready or not, people are already talking about your wine online and good or bad, you need to manage it. In Part 2 of this series, I ask the question: do you know what is being said about you? More importantly, how will you manage your brand perception now that you know you really aren’t in control?

I’ve heard many winery owners and business executives express concern about allowing customers to post reviews and comments on the company blog or Facebook fan page. They’re afraid of opening themselves up to criticism and negative comments, but I’ll clue you in right now: criticism and negative reviews will still be posted, it’s just that now it is posted on other forums where you may not have the opportunity to respond and manage brand perception. At least when it’s on your own blog or fan page, you can show to the world that you are concerned and want to address any issues. In my experience, addressing issues from a dissatisfied customer in a timely manner has often resulted in a complete turnaround in perception along with an outpouring of compliments and recommendations. It’s an opportunity to turn a negative experience into a positive outcome for everyone involved.

How are you managing your brand? Have you ever turned around a dissatisfied customer? Share your story or comments.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. February 17, 2010

    Hi – Thank you for your great series on Wineries and Social Media. As I have been reading through all the series tonight I just have one comment that comes to mind. Wineries also need to divide up who their customers are. There are on premise/off premise buyers and then there are actual consumers.

    Reaching each of those is very different. Buyers – you are not just branding your wines but also promoting events you do with them and basically driving consumers to their businesses to be consumers. Another post possibly? – or am I jumping ahead?

    Thanks again – this has been so helpful!!!


  2. February 22, 2010

    This is a phenomenal series resource for wineries. It is great how you are clearly articulating transferable principles of Social Media success for the wine industry!

    Keep up the great series!

    Josh @nectarwine on Twitter

  3. Eric Hwang permalink*
    February 22, 2010


    No, you’re not jumping ahead, just digging a little deeper than I planned to cover in a blog post. Obviously, there are a lot of details that I’m glossing over that I’ve addressed in great detail in my own strategic planning. I don’t mind giving away some of the milk, but I’m a little hesitant to give away the cow as well, if you know what I mean.

    I’m not really following your train of thought. In terms of SM marketing, I don’t see a great deal of difference between a consumer, customer and a buyer. Ultimately, what we would like for people to do is buy our wines. If that means we have events or participate in events where we pour our wines, it’s in hopes that those people who are simply consuming the wine will eventually become buyers of our wine–becoming not only a customer, but also a friend.

    Just as we communicate differently with our real-life friends versus acquaintances, we reach out to our winery friends through different channels than we would with potential customers because their needs are different. Existing friends and customers already know about our wines and just want to know what’s going on with things such as new releases, harvest, and social events. Potential customers who haven’t tasted our wines want to know more basic information such as how and where they can taste it, flavor profiles, winemaker, winery history, price, availability, etc.

    It’s because of these different types of information that we need to participate in the various social media communities. A web site should address all the basic information a newcomer would like to know, while a platform such as a blog or Facebook would target fans and existing customers with information about events and daily winery activities. A winery shouldn’t go after new customers through their slick web site and forget to keep in touch with their loyal fans by neglecting the Facebook fan page.

    Hope that provides a little more detail about the audience that I didn’t address in Part 2.


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