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Developing Your Winery’s Social Media Strategy: Resources

2010 February 25

Part 5

This is the fifth in a series of six articles on questions you should ask when developing a social media strategy for your winery. This is a long article about resources—time, money, skills, and people. 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: Resources

Do you have something to say?

Of course you do, right now. But what about next month and the month after that? Making compelling content requires some creativity and coming up with ideas can sometimes be challenging. If you need some help, check out Tom Wark’s 50 Updates for Facebook. Although geared towards Facebook, these are great topics for both blogs and video. Also look at my random list of 17 Interesting Blog & Video Topics for Your Winery for some more topics.

It really is all about the content. It’s what keeps people coming back to your website, blog and fan page. But when it comes to creating content, I’m in a constant struggle to balance quantity versus quality. Some people think that it’s important to constantly create content—sometimes every day—but I think quality is more important than quantity. After all, how many days in a row do you think people will want to read about you punching down the cap on your latest vintage? Strive for higher quality with less frequency. So instead of just talking about punchdowns, make a video demonstrating how you do it and explain why your methods are crucial to the quality of your wine. Higher quality posts will be shared in the community. They’re more “sticky” and will continue to get visits and search engine hits long after the initial interest wains.

There’s nothing that says you can’t post to your blog every other week or even less often. If you’re posting content that people want to read or watch, that’s entertaining, informative or offering free stuff, you can do it at your own pace. However, to make your content effectual, it has to have a call to action. What’s that you ask? Marketing-speak for directing your audience to look at something, do something or buy something. Otherwise, your content accomplishes nothing and contributes nothing to your sales or brand awareness. The other key to content is that, whatever your schedule for producing it, you have to be producing it consistently. Which brings me to the next question…

Do you have the time or people to dedicate to this?

“No,” seems to be the answer I hear the most to this question. Whether it’s that 700 word blog entry you make each week, the one minute video you record each month or the 140 character tweet you send each day, generating content can be time consuming. But it doesn’t have to take as much time as you think. There are tools available to help you post content to multiple sources. And with “mini-blogs” like Posterous, you can do it as easily as sending an email. By linking your platforms together, creating or sharing content on one will post it to the others. So when you upload that photo to Flickr, your blog and Facebook wall will post a link to it. Now the question is, who will create all this content?

If you’re a small winery, the owner(s) or winemaker(s) usually creates content. Or it could be someone in customer service or the tasting room performing double duty. Regardless of who does it, make sure they reserve a bit of time each day to respond to feedback and participate. They’ll also need to set aside enough time each week or two in order to create content. In a larger operation, you may have to hire a social media person, but don’t expect them to create all the content themselves, especially in the beginning. They’ll need help writing articles, creating videos, and staying on top of all the different platforms.

More importantly, can they do it consistently? Many wineries get caught up initially with the novelty of blogging, tweeting or Facebook, but lose interest and eventually stop when they don’t see enough blog traffic, Twitter followers or Facebook fans. A following doesn’t develop overnight and requires dedication. It’s not about getting as many followers, subscribers and fans as possible, but rather to get quality followers who are either influencers in their social community or customers who ultimately will buy your product.

The charts above represent my work week. The top chart is how I typically spend my time now. The bottom chart is where I’d like to be. As you can see, I spend nearly half my time either writing or producing video. I eventually would like to do more video and less writing. I’d also like to have more time to spend conversing with people both online and in real life. And I’m hoping that the amount of research I need to do will decrease as I learn more about the industry and the Sonoma/Napa area. Did you notice the little brown slice? Yeah, I’d also like to have a little more time for tasting! Now if you’re a winery, imagine your own pie chart of your time. What would have to happen to insert a big slice for SM in that chart? Something’s gotta give.

What will suffer if you spend time and money on social media?

For me, my social life and apartment clutter have probably suffered the most as a result of my job. Sorry, oversharing! You have a limited budget and only so much time in the day; from where will you shift money to spend on SM? What will you allow to go undone by spending time on social media? Would your time be better spent doing your primary job and hiring a consultant or another person to do your social media?

A lot of companies are shifting their time and money away from traditional marketing to online marketing, with some companies shifting as much as 80% of their marketing budget to the online side of things. If a good portion of your sales are direct-to-consumer through your tasting room, telemarketing or web sales, you probably started to shift your focus already. However, if your traditional marketing is working well, you probably won’t change things that drastically. (Why fix what isn’t broken?) But if you do reallocate your time and budget, how will your marketing goals change as a result? After all, you’ll have the attention of a different audience.

Do you have the skills?

You may have some great ideas and a long list of interesting topics, but do you or your staff have the skills to make it happen? I’m not talking about the high-level qualities I felt were necessary for social media as discussed in Wine Social Media: Do You Have What It Takes? When it gets down to the nitty gritty, you or whoever is doing your social media needs to be able to do the following on a daily basis:

  • Writing, both in a journalistic and creative style. Humor is a definite plus. You also need to be your own editor and judging from the length of this article, that’s something I need to work on.
  • Photography, at least enough to be able take decent photos for your blog or Facebook fan page.
  • Video, at its most basic, be able to shoot, edit and upload video.
  • Speaking on camera, because at some point you’ll have to step in front of the camera to interview or introduce people.
  • Negotiation, because you’re going to need cooperation from many other people at the winery to get things done.
  • Networking, since making connections is the social part of Social Media.
  • Marketing, and the business acumen to tie all this back to selling wine.

Do you have the tools?

Does anyone remember the movie, Ishtar? It had the star power of Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty, the film had spectacular locations and technically was filmed flawlessly. Yet, the critics hated it and it was a box office flop.

At a bare minimum, you’ll need an Internet-enabled phone to participate in social media. With the right phone, you could actually get by with just that. With certain brands of phones, you can take photos, videos, tweet, and type your next blog post.  However, I couldn’t imagine writing a long blog article on my phone’s tiny little keyboard, so eventually, you’ll probably need a real computer and an Internet connection.

From there, your choice of software, cameras and video equipment will all depend on your budget and the quality you’re striving for. You could literally spend thousands of dollars to get the best quality equipment. But just remember, the equipment doesn’t make the content nor does it guarantee that your content will go viral. Like the movie, Ishtar, you could be doing everything right and your content could go unseen. Get only what’s necessary to do the job now. If things work out, you can always upgrade your equipment later, if not, you’re not out a lot of money.

You do know how to carry on a conversation, don’t you?

I tacked this on to the end of this article because if you are going to participate in social media, whether you hire a consultant or new employee or do it yourself, you should keep this in mind. Social media is a dialogue, not a monologue. It’s this ability to have a conversation with your customers, friends and followers that has changed how we communicate and do business. If all you’re doing is mimicking traditional media and not engaging with your customers and followers, then you’re no better off than if you printed an ad in a magazine or broadcast a commercial on television.

Having a web page, blog or Facebook page where you don’t interact with your customers is like going to a meetup or other party, putting on your name tag and sitting in a corner not talking to anyone. You won’t make any connections that way, nor will you get people to return to your site if you don’t “talk” with people online either. Even worse, we’ve all met the self-absorbed egotist at parties. How long do you hang around before you’re tired of listening without being heard or getting a word in edgewise? Don’t be the online equivalent, monologuing and bragging about where they’ve been and what they’re doing and never really having a conversation. If you’re not engaging with your customers and followers, you’re simply talking at people, not with them. After a while, people will go elsewhere to seek conversation.

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. February 25, 2010

    Once again another “out of the park” post. I love how you provide actual tips for success rather than just a list of things you “should” be doing. These are valuable resources for wineries (and all businesses).

    There is a time commitment but the reward can also be big. I think there may be some scientific relationship you can show something like T x C x C = ROI+BA (Time x Content x Care = Return on Investment + Brand Awareness)

    Josh

  2. Eric Hwang permalink*
    February 25, 2010

    Hi Josh,

    Thanks for stopping by again and participating. You know, of course, that only other wine bloggers will read this. ;)

    It would be hard to put the benefits of Social Media into a set formula, but what you suggest there could work. I don’t want wineries to believe that SM is something formulaic where if you do this, this and this, the result will be X. I think each winery has unique circumstances and ultimately some of the ROI for SM is difficult to measure. I’ll be covering more on that topic in my last part.

    It’s a fine line I walk to provide examples. On one hand, I want to use actual ideas and suggests, but on the other hand, I don’t want to reveal any ideas that I intend to use for my day job. Of course, doing a Google search will return lots of real-world examples, but I’m happy to at least plant the thought in people’s minds.

    As always, I appreciate your comments.

    Cheers,
    Eric

  3. February 25, 2010

    Love the part about “what will suffer”…. uh, I’m being taken over by dust bunnies LOL Really great piece – I’m sharing these with everyone on my small team to try and engage them in a small way with SM.

  4. Eric Hwang permalink*
    February 25, 2010

    Hi Kris,

    I talk to so many winery owners and I understand their concerns. They already have a full time job running the winery, where will they find time to do SM? I have some ideas that I may share in the future when the time is right, but for now, I think anyone considering SM should do a little bit of cost/benefit analysis. They may believe their time is too valuable to be spending on Twitter or Facebook, especially if their traditional marketing is working fine for them. But I’m sure the companies who advertised in Gourmet, Metropolitan Home, I.D., Southern Accents and PC Magazine thought the same thing. After all, according to certain wine writing professionals and wine blog satirists who crossover to traditional news media, all this blogging stuff is pointless anyway. Nobody actually reads it. (So I guess that makes you and Josh nobodies.)

    Now I’m not alluding to the demise of any wine magazines, but who’s reading that stuff now anyway? I have a subscription to a well-known wine publication and I don’t even think I’ve cracked open the last 5 issues because I spend most of my time reading things online. How effective can your marketing be if your audience’s attention is elsewhere? And that’s with someone like me who grew up with traditional media. What about the millennials who do most of their reading online anyway?

    Anytime you want to undertake something new, you have to prioritize your time to accommodate your new activity. Some wineries will find that SM is not a priority for them and therefore will simply say they don’t have the time. Other wineries have seen the light and realize that having the venue to interact with their customers is not only valuable for their brand recognition and customer satisfaction, but for some they actually find it fun. Imagine that.

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments.

    Cheers,
    Eric

  5. February 2, 2011

    Where can you go to find a truly effective free social media marketing plan? Most people in business and in the online marketing industry understand that social media is a massively, powerful way to network and promote your business, but what are the best ways to use it so that you will be noticed and taken seriously? Well here is a free social marketing plan that you can start using now to improve your online marketing efforts today.

    Free Social Media Marketing Plan- The Top 4 Ways to Use Social Networking and Media for Online Marketing:

    1- Social Bookmarking: This is a clever way to essentially give your content more votes and improve its ranking on the search engines. Simply use a bookmarking site such as Digg or Propeller to bookmark a link to an article or video that you have done and instantly improve your rank on Google or yahoo.

    2- Forums: Another great method of free social media marketing is to participate strategically on online discussion forums. Provide value and helpful links and info while also providing links back to your websites or blogs through anchor texting.

    3- Social Networking: Twitter and Facebook are excellent free social media marketing tools that you can use to promote your business while making fantastic connections and contacts to share helpful tips with and provide more opportunities for driving traffic to your websites and getting more prospects. Just be sure to have a balance. Remember that social networking is all about making a connection and providing value. Never make a nuisance of yourself by just spamming and posting your links all day long.

    4- Keyword Research: While this may not appear very social at first glance, it is so important to keep in mind that with everything you do online to market your business as well as any free social marketing, it is absolutely critical that you remember to use relevant long-tail keywords within your posts to be sure that the search engines will find your content and give you priority placement among the search page results.

    When it comes to free social media marketing, and any of the other most popular internet marketing tactics, is often not enough to just use a free word tracker tool to do your keyword research, but there is a company that offers over 10 hours of professional keyword research to their members while providing massive lists of the best keywords to use within your online marketing campaigns and titles so be sure that you do your homework to locate the best Online Marketing program to ensure that you will have an edge on your competition and stand out in the marketplace!

    Where to go to Learn Social Media Marketing:Remember, that free Social Media Marketing and Networking is a technique that requires patience, balance and careful strategy. Be sure to look for a legitimate Internet Marketing school and mentor with the experience to train you to be as effective as possible in all your online marketing efforts. You must provide value and connect in an honest and open way. Remember, that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!

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