WineCircle Consulting Partners with eWinery

Creating Content for your Wine Site

Good presentations and white papers on the genetic makeup of social media sites and Web 2.0 participants are available. Forrester Research published a book in 2008 called Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed (by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff – available at Amazon.com) and Gary Hayes produced a good presentation on SlideShare titled Creating Online Buzz , Growing Communities . In a nutshell, to be successful you need to have a stable of Creators who come up with original content for your social site.

If you look around the winery talent pool and you can’t find content Creators you may need to hire a “ghost writer” for you or your winemaker or whoever that persona is you want to be positioned front and center on your social site; remember that more people view videos and photos on-line than articles and blogs.

Additionally, you will need Editors who will edit content created by others or submit content created by others. Critics are a plus, not a negative. If you make good wine you should not have to worry about criticism of your wine. Nobody likes mean-spirited hackers and, if lacking spam-filters, most SNS’s have applications for the community to self-police, register complaints and remove disruptive miscreants (ex.: Craig’s List). In the social atmosphere critics comment on the content submitted by others, such as, photos, videos and jokes that may have surfaced at your last wine tasting event.

You want lots of Sharers who will forward content to others. If your Creators and Editors are engaging your membership then you will attract more Sharers. Finally, you need Consumers. This is the silent majority who are attracted to your site, contribute to traffic but only passively consume content and either post by personalizing it, OR NOT. The graphic up above shows the levels of influence and impact of participants in a social networking community. Think about it, the guy snapping photos on his smart phone at your tasting bar is a creator. 1st try to get your wine label in the picture and then ask him to post his photos on your site.

Remember that you are creating your social site for your friends. Provide some incentives for your friends to contribute content, edit, share, and invite other friends to your site. Free invites to events at the winery always get attention and here’s an idea featured on Oprah. Invite your content contributors from anywhere in the world to a Skype wine tasting. Now that is what I want to do next time I’m flying cross country on a crowded 757!

How Social Media Helps Build Online Sales

Vintank recently published an 86 page whitepaper, We are here. We are HERE. WE ARE HERE! The State of Wine Industry Social Media . The paper is informative with some good tips on how and where to get started using Social Networking Sites (SNS’s) to build an online presence for your wine business and brands.

The paper focuses in on Facebook and Twitter for B to C social networking and Linkedin for B to B social networking. It highlights these sites as the best high-traffic SNS’s to put your resources behind. I agree with their logic and their selections, including eliminating MySpace when bandwidth is an issue.

Also included are in-depth profiles of a number of Wine-Social sites including Adegga, CellarTracker, Cork’d, Snooth, VinCellar by Vinfolio and WineLog. Though the list is incomplete, forms are made available for those missing wine-social sites that want to be included going forward. Personally, I would have included Wine.Meetup but I’m sure that they will get added to the list in the future. The message is to “pick a pew” where your highest concentration of customers and prospects reside, map out a strategy and get busy generating content and building “buzz”.

In their purest form, Social Networks are all about connecting with people you know and keeping them informed of what you are doing. Activity is in the forefront and connections are secondary. Social networking sites work well for announcing wine events and for publishing digital media after the events. Before you jump in thinking that Facebook is the ticket to selling out your inventory consider the etiquette appropriate for social media marketing.

It takes time to build and deploy your social network for marketing purposes. While you are considering how you might leverage your friends and associates on Facebook and on other social networks be prepared and write up a plan. This is, after all, your network of friends so let your wine do the talking via tasting events with candid photos and videos that don’t look staged (Fun is infectious).

Importantly, you don’t want to garishly broadcast your sales and marketing messaging as you would with traditional advertising, but rather create the environment where friends influence friends. Join the conversation but don’t attempt to dominate or force your friends to say what you want to hear. By all means recruit content creators and editors and encourage photos and (short) videos that you can put on your site and publish on Flickr and YouTube (According to “The Global Web Index,” from Trendstream, with research conducted by Lightspeed Research, early this year 72% of US Internet users watched video clips monthly—making video bigger than blogging or social networking).

Your social site should grow organically with a little cultivation and by getting to know your friends who visit your tasting room, attend your events, sign up for your wine clubs and enjoy chronicling and sharing the social experiences/events they participate in along with the great wines you make.