Last month, I made a point to attend a series of wine events that presented opportunities to network with wine professionals and enthusiasts alike. To see the power of Social Media at work was both exciting and gratifying. Whether it was a tasting event to promote a particular wine region, a launch to celebrate a new social network, or a tweetup which is essentially a meetup with tweeting, events like these "puts the Social back in to social media," a quote I borrowed from Thea Dwelle's blog Luscious Lushes.
In some ways I liken the relationship between the wine industry and Social Media to dating. The match is still new and at times, a little awkward. Each trying to find the right balance between exchanging information and forging a relationship. From a business investment perspective so much emphasis is placed on immediate Social Media revenues and ROI that we lose sight of the fact that it's just a tool to help us build solid customer relationships in the long-term and is ultimately the key to success.
Each of the following events reinforced this notion for me in a slightly different way:
The Alto Adige Seminar (Mar 2)
- This event highlighted the distinctive core varietals of the Alto Adige region in Northern, Italy. In today's world where so much information is available on the net, it was refreshing to see a packed house at 11:30 on a Tuesday morning in San Francisco. The seminar gave attendees the opportunity to learn more about the region from an esteemed panel of experts (3 Wolfgangs!) and and have their undivided attention for two hours. Moreover, attendees got a chance to ask the winemakers about revenue profiles, biodynamic wine production, the geographic nuances within the region, and even disease prevention. Did you know that Wolfgang Raifer, winemaker at Colterenzio,
uses nettle tea to fight fungus and chamomile tea to "calm" the plants down after a hail storm - all in the name of working with what's natural. My favorite quote came from Michael Goëss-Enzenberg of Manincor
regarding biodynamic farming, "you have to live it, not just work it." As it is with Social Media - you have to participate, not just build it. I came out of the seminar more mindful about Alto Adige wines and left with a new appreciation for Reislings, Weissburgunders, and Muller Thurgaus. On the day of and the days that followed, Twitter was a-buzz with Alto Adige commentary further extending the region's exposure. Vintuba
does a great job reviewing both the region and the wines.
Sauvignon Blanc Online Tasting Event (Mar 4)
- A novel approach to wine tasting pioneered by Rick Bakas
at St. Supery Winery. The concept is simple: grab a bottle of any Sauvignon Blanc, sign onto twitter at a designated time, and tweet as you taste. To make things easier, hashtags are used so one can easily follow the blitz of tweets as they flash across the screen. This event did a quite a few things to elevate my own experience: 1)reminded me that my palette still likes Sauvignon Blanc; 2)brought outmy experimental nature so I asked my local wine merchant introduce me to a new wine - enter the Marlborough region of New Zealand; 3)tweeting about my wine introduced me to fellow enthusiasts around the globe and Kiwi wineries in particular; and 4)a fellow tweeter introduced me to a new musician, Gin Wigmore - I love pairing music and wine! Tasters were tweeting from everywhere - alone, with a group, at home or at a bar. As a result of this successful effort, more online tasting events are scheduled in the Twitter-verse by Rick and other Twitter personalities, such as the WAMerlot
event next week. It's fun and it's free, and if you're a winery, it's a phenomenal opportunity for brand exposure and direct consumer interaction.
Thirsty Girl (Mar 11)
- A high energy event held at the beautiful Gloria Ferrer Vineyards
celebrated the recent NYC Expo launch of a new social network. The creator behind Thirsty Girl is the vivacious Leslie Sbrocco
, award winning author, wine consultant, television host of Check Please! and co-founder of WineToday.com. Leslie hopes to bring together women (and Thirsty Men) who share their experiences of fun, adventure, and fulfillment. To reinforce the inclusive atmosphere, Leslie invited various women in attendance to introduce themselves to the group, talk a bit about who they are, what they do, and why they're a Thirsty Girl. While wine is a big part of the network, the focus is not on tasting notes or wine recommendations but more about the enjoyment we get from drinking life in
(the motto), especially when wine is involved. With social networking platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Ning, YouTube, and now Thirsty Girl, members are but a key-stroke away from connecting with like-minded individuals so that conversations can take place more easily than ever before. More events, such as Thirsty Girl Thursdays, will be held in the future and around the country so register on their website
to stay updated.
Napa Valley Tweetup (Mar 12)
- people are still
talking about the wonderful experience they had at the Tweetup organized by Gabriel Carrejo
. A rainy Friday morning didn't stop folks in the wine and Social Media industries from converging in Napa. A panel of Social Media rockstars talked about the paradigm shift in how businesses see customers who now have a megaphone when voicing their opinions, and the importance of managing one's brand from a B2B and B2C perspective in the face of online conversations that are happening outside of your control. Jennifer Leggio
talked about the need to develop a communication strategy first then determine the appropriate tools (Twitter, FB, etc) to use. Don't just center your strategy around a Facebook fan page as that platform is trendy and could be gone tomorrow. First determine the message you want your consumers to hear then pick the best online platforms to deliver that message. Further, don't just use these social platforms to merely pitch a product or push a coupon, it's a turn-off. At the end of the day, you're going to sell your product because you reached out and connected with your customer. That said, it was either Paul Mabray
who provided this tip: Absolutely have a Facebook fan page as Google is indexing key search words from status updates to come up in relevant searches. The best part? Creating a fan page is FREE, generating traffic is FREE, marketing communications are FREE. Take advantage, the Social Media train has left the station. The highlight of the tweetup was the outstanding mixer held later that evening at Robert Mondavi Winery
. Wine and Social Media ... can ya dig it?!
And finally, perhaps one of the most talked about Social Media events in March involved one of the wine industry's most prominent figures, Gary Vaynerchuck and his presentation
and keynote talk
. The live crowd and online Twitter community (me!) was on fire
reiterating multiple parts of his message and a spontaneous free-flow rap finale. My favorite sound bite: "Focus on legacy over currency. Businesses (new entrants to Social Media) are acting like a 19 year old guy and trying to close the deal too fast (ROI conversion and the bottom line). People need to start caring or they're going to fucking lose! You can't scale authenticity."
As I continue to digest all this information, I'm mindful about what this means to me as a professional and how I can improve my own business practices. How can Social Media improve yours?
Until next time,