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Developing Your Winery’s Social Media Strategy: Metrics

2010 March 29

Part 6

This is the sixth and final article in a series of six articles on questions you should ask when developing a social media strategy for your winery. This article is about metrics—measuring the effectiveness of your social media efforts. If this is the first time you’re reading any of these articles, you may want to start at the beginning with the first article on goals.

The late Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” I agree wholeheartedly. And while some so-called experts in social media would have you believe that you shouldn’t worry about ROI—that measuring metrics only serves to distract us from engaging with our customers and building relationships—it still continues to be a key concern for any business, especially when that investment is unproven and made during economically troubled times. Just look at how many quotes on ROI can be found online or listen to any sales pitch made to a company’s executive team and you’ll see how important it really is. Still think you shouldn’t worry about it?

Developing Your Winery’s Social Media Strategy: Metrics

Social media has grown up

Ignoring ROI, jumping into SM without a plan, and abandoning conventional wisdom may have worked a few years ago when social media was still in its infancy, but that was then and this is now. We all know that planning and having a strategy is the key to a successful social media campaign. There are now lots of tools to measure and evaluate the strength of your SM campaign. The real question is, what are you going to measure? Page views? Comments? Fans? Followers? Search engine ranking? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple since those measurements often don’t translate directly into sales results. So it’s not surprising that in a recent survey of marketing professionals, only 16% said they measure the ROI of their social media programs.1 And if you think about it, for most wineries, how exactly do you measure a return on an investment primarily of time?

If you’re a C-level executive at a large wine and spirits conglomerate, you’re probably only concerned with tangible results: revenue, retention, conversion and, ultimately, profit. But I wouldn’t limit those concerns to only large wineries. Smaller wineries also need to know where their time and money is going, because spending both on social media means you’re taking it away from other tasks and budgets.

If you are tasked with SM, how will you manage expectations?

I mentioned that executives are only interested in tangible results. But if we simply focus on our P&L statement, we miss out on other intangibles that SM produces, such as brand loyalty, trust and advocacy. Short of asking all the visitors to your tasting room, how can you even begin to measure these indicators? (I can see it now…On a scale of 1 to 10, how loyal are you to our winery?) Going one step further, how do you even present these kind of metrics in a comprehensive view to those higher up and how do you set realistic expectations with this in mind?

I try to under-promise and over-deliver. I’ve said before that SM is a long-term strategy with few immediate measurable results. Normally, I would say that after a couple of sales quarters, you should be able to measure your effectiveness against prior years’ sales figures. However, in this economy with people cutting back on discretionary spending, it would be almost impossible to make your efforts appear favorable. If anything, you may improve customer retention, but going from losing 30% of your wine club members to only losing 10% may not seem like much of an accomplishment in management’s eyes. Nonetheless, that’s still moving in the right direction. Try highlighting the fact that you’ve slowed down that downhill slide.

What will determine your success?

Facebook Fans? Twitter followers? Blog traffic? While these may be easy intermediate metrics to measure, ultimately it is sales that will determine if your SM efforts are successful. That could be from wine club members, tasting room traffic and direct and online sales figures. Establish a baseline from sales histories. Make sure that other factors aren’t influencing these metrics. A favorable review in a wine magazine or other traditional marketing efforts could easily skew your results. Seasonal and holiday fluctuations should be measured against an average increase in prior years versus normal sales volumes.

Because of the economy, I personally can’t claim to have increased overall sales, but since I work with direct-to-consumer sales figures, I can see the sales spikes on products that I have promoted on the blog, in a video, or through a combination of social media platforms. But within the marketing realm, social media doesn’t live in it’s own world separate from other marketing efforts. It’s only because of all the combined marketing efforts—including email, print and direct sales—that my social media marketing is successful.

What happens if you aren’t successful?

Even with the best planned strategies and interesting and consistent content, you may find that your social media efforts aren’t meeting your overall marketing goals. Now what? First of all, are you being realistic? Social media is not the panacea for your marketing ills. If your marketing efforts weren’t producing expected results before you started doing SM, then perhaps the problem is rooted deeper in overall strategy and not just social media. Time to look at the bigger picture.

This may also be a good time to reevaluate your efforts. If you do social media marketing long enough, you’ll begin to see a pattern of what worked and what didn’t. For example, if you’re producing videos and you’re getting fewer and fewer views, then something is not working right and needs to change. You may need to seek more effective channels for promoting them, change your topics, improve your video skills, or abandon video altogether. Does your audience even watch videos? What you don’t want to do is maintain the status quo. If it’s not working, fix it. If you can’t fix it, find someone who can. If it’s not worth fixing, get rid of it.

Finally, learn from your own experience and mistakes. What worked for me or someone else, may not necessarily work for you. Every winery is different with different goals, audience and expectations. There is no magic formula or set of steps that will work for everyone. You have to evaluate what your winery needs, make your own strategy and find your ideal combination of tools and tactics.

Best of luck with your social media program, and, as always, feel free to contact me if you need help with your efforts.

1 Mzinga and Babson Executive Education, Social Software in Business, September 8, 2009

4 Responses leave one →
  1. March 29, 2010

    Good points Eric – I compare monthly sales for each year since we opened to see the trend. I also look at the quarterly sales to make sure any monthly anomalies are leveled out. We started in July of 2006 and have always seen a growth pattern but after we rebranded in Sept of 2008 we started to see a definite upswing in sales, despite the economy, and 2009 was up about 45% over 2008. We started using Facebook and Twitter in 2009 and now the 1st quarter 2010 is up almost 100% over the 1st quarter of last year with about 75% of that increase being attributed to SM efforts. We are getting a lot more referrals from fans and friends on Facebook and Twitter. Just today a woman was in the tasting room and said a winemaker friend of hers in California told her to come to Hard Row to Hoe when she came tasting at Lake Chelan because he knew about us through Facebook.

  2. March 29, 2010

    Another great post on an intruiging topic, Eric. I have been totally baffled by the folks who have said not to worry about metrics.

  3. March 30, 2010

    Eric…a lot of very good points but I especially think that your close is very important for any winery reading this. What works for you or for me will depend upon all the points you mention plus our individual styles….and that will also be important for whoever is engaged with clients for a winery. If you are new at it don’t “try” to imitate anyone else. Try different things until you find what is comfortable for you and also engages people.

    Try to make everything work together…best of all recommendations from Eric is to have fun doing it!

    My suggestion is to listen to Eric…he knows what he is talking about.

  4. Eric Hwang permalink*
    March 30, 2010

    Don, it was great to meet you the other night at Purple. I’m impressed by your numbers. For small wineries such as yours, social media can have a significant impact on sales. Obviously, you’re doing something right. Thanks for sharing your results and observations.

    Nancy, I agree with you. Too many folks claiming to be experts want to show you how to do social media, and that you need to get started right away or you’ll be missing lots of opportunities. However, I believe if you don’t take the time to examine your reasons for why you want to do it, who is your audience and develop a plan, you’re not going to hit your target. Mark said it best in the comments for the first of this series: READY – FIRE – AIM. Doing things in that order will almost never hit the mark.

    Mark, thanks again for your comments and kudos. Your point about having fun is very important, because if you’re not having fun, it shows and people can tell. I just spoke with someone this past weekend who told me that even though it’s time consuming, she is having a blast doing all the social media for their winery. She did it at her own pace, through some trial and error, but now she’s out there making new friends while promoting her wines. “Find out what works for you and have fun with it,” is a great way to approach SM.

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