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Archive for December, 2008

Proof of ROI in Social Media:

That’s for the boss’ bottom line.  But I think the real ROI isn’t measured by the bottom line.  The most valuable investment we all make in social networking is our time and ourselves.  Without those two things invested…and invested authentically, there is no real return.  How do you measure and put a dollar value on connecting, shared information, generating ideas, developing conversations?  I’m sure there are social scientists that will study and follow these activities and endeavor to measure the trail and where it leads.  And as soon as the numbers are in black and white, I think the measure will have already missed the essence of the most valuable return from social networking.

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In this particular case, however, I have been VERY lucky to have a short, direct trail with a couple people in the chain to point to a measurable outcome.  Brian Simpson, (F & B at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York City) and Shannon Marshall,  (Northeast Divisional Manager for Hahn Family Wines ).  Through the power of social media, twitter and 12seconds.tv, Brian & I have connected & have been posting 12 second videos of the RSH daily lunch special paired with wine.  We started in early November.  By request, I connected Brian with Shannon & by early December we have the menu above :  5 wines from Hahn Family Wines by the glass with 3 more by the bottle.

For me the return is in the relationships and connections I am allowed to cultivate world-wide through social networking.  The bottom line ROI is a secondary result I am grateful for…but not my primary pursuit.  The connections are.  Which brings me back to wine.  I feel the same way about sharing a bottle with someone.  Happy New Year everyone.  Cheers.

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  • Taste more wine
  • Share more wine
  • Learn more about wine
  • Buy more wine
  • Sell more wine
  • Gift more wine
  • Enjoy more wine
  • Discover more wine
  • Diversify my taste in wine

Welcome to my short list of goals for 2009.

With enough time off to unplug and enjoy friends, family as well as rest and recharge, I continue to come back to the precious value in meaningful connections.  Those connections happen every day in person but also they happen online.  This blog’s connection to you is high on my list of meaningful connections.  Twitter and 12Seconds also grant me invaluable connections to friends, information and more people expanding my horizons.

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Wine is a kind of glue or lubricant or artistic moment shared between people that toasts the height of connection and sharing.  Ok, yes, perhaps I’m overly sentimental;  it is the holidays and the meaning in my days and in my relationships is something I value above anything else.  Sentimentality is bound to creep in.

So in 2009 I am committed to hosting more Bloggers Tasting Forums (watch for them among many wineries and also from Hahn, coming in March) as well as another kind of Tasting Forum:  A Comparative Tasting among F&B types.  The original idea comes from Shannon Marshall (@perthgirl) in New York City.  It is meant to be something like the Bloggers Tasting Forum but co-hosted by the winery and the restaurant, bar or other venue with groups of wine buyers, wine directors, sommeliers, Food & Beverage Directors, etc. for the purpose of connecting, tasting, learning… It is in development, so I’ll fill in more details soon.  Thea Dwelle (@WineBratSF) has continued to do a lovely job talking about blogging and the wine industry as well as Mutineer Magazine, spreading the word and appreciation for the Bloggers Tasting Forum.  It is an idea catching on my many places in various incarnations.

Its impact is about word of mouth: “Wine Bloggers are the new way of providing word of mouth marketing.” said Ms. Dwelle.  And many of us have read Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point: “…it is safe to say that word of mouth is – even in this age of mass communication and multimillion dollar advertising campaigns – still the most important form of human communication.

I invite you to join me in at least one of the goals listed above.  I look forward to raising a glass and connecting with you as well.

Happy New Year…and cheers!

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Unpluged underwater!belize-photos-day-2-lisa-has-good-time1

This fall has been a whirlwind, full immersion, groundbreaking series of connections in the wine business, on-line, in social media and at conferences:

The uber-connectedness of the web world, twitter and all versions of social media has brought a phenomenal level of conversation and content into our lives and our industry.  Consumers, bloggers and businesses are looking in many directions to figure out what to do next.  So in this hectic yet powerful season I am pausing to remember what the connections are all about.  People.  And in order to fully focus on those people, I will unplug and disconnect for 8 glorious days to do just that.  I’m not sure exactly what i’ll do with all the free time;  I will certainly be diving, I will play games with my kids, and if I can find one, I may read a book!  (yep, an actual paper one 🙂  I’m taking advice from AriannaHuffington .  When asked at the Web 2.0 Expo keynote interview with Tim O’Reilly, “What’s the next big thing?” , that’s what she answered…unplugging and re-connecting with yourself.  Peace.

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post) …“, posted with vodpod

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I love an idea that can go viral.

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Or maybe it already is viral and people will now just write about it…more.  Comparative wine tastings:  The sales reps at Hahn, in particular one extremely forward thinking, brilliant and sassy New Yorker/Aussie, Shannon Marshall, (twitter @perthgirl) rep is motivating groups in the beverage industry in NYC to gather …perhaps quarterly…to “start a quarterly comparative tasting (blind?) where we have some of our wines against our competitive set…and get as many people involved in respective regions?  i.e.a group of NY distributor sales people and I meet at a lounge and taste the wines, write a few words of comment…and post our results.”  

wineglassesOther wineries on twitter connected with the bloggers’ during Hahn’s tasting Forum and said, ” Hey, I want to do that too!”.  Winery folks that were there said, “I’ll host one!” (Twisted Oak, Michel Schlumberger, and others).  And other participants, bloggers and winemakers are talking about bringing bloggers and consumers together for tastings.  Informative, educational, access to the wine maker, wine bloggers, and most importantly, a blast of an experience that heightens our experience of wine and each other.  Said beautifully on the Kilted Blog: “...the best part is – you actually bring the “social” in social media.  At the end of the day, its all fine and dandy to excel in social media in the online sense – but what really matters, down at the core of it, is being social with real human beings.

And how cool would it be to taste a flight of wines with a group of wineophiles, winemakers, vineyard managers, wine bloggers and your friends?  That, my friends, would be CRAZY fun, and there’s  so much to learn and enjoy.  Really, these people have a gift, a passion and lucky us, they want to share!  The content, the conversation, the wine experience…you don’t often get that confluence of visceral, intellectual and social high all in one event.

Photos provided courtesy of Chris Butts: The Kilted Blog.

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A couple very brief  points based on our conversations at the first Bloggers Tasting Forum and on comments posted since  (We hope you and many other bloggers will join us next time, 1WineDude; the Forum is completely open). 

It is essential that we connect blogs, bloggers, and the conversation happening on-line to the greater wine loving public.  The folks that aren’t interested in paying for or even picking up a mainstream wine magazine because it doesn’t connect with them…but ARE looking for something else, something interesting, something witty, educational, true, accessible, different, bizarre, fun, passionate, joyful, engaging.  Judd Wallenbrock (Humanitas Wines and Michel Schlumberger) said it beautifully here:  “My experience to date is that bloggers tend to evaluate and write about a particular winery, one at a time, rather than a cattle call of wines. To me, this is a deeper, more intimate evaluation of the brand, not just the wines. ” 

Blogging is already more than we ever could have imagined and I would bet it will continue on this trajectory to places we still can’t imagine.  Isn’t that the edge, the treat, the pleasure we all get from reading blogs?  The understanding that no one has really bought these blogs and anything might be said, anything might happen based on the sometimes radical ideas and conversations that happen here?  So as Caveman said: Post Early, Post Often.  And engage one new reader a day, or per week or how ever you can.  But connect the non-digital folks to something they are missing but didn’t know they were looking for.

Thanks Mutineer for doing that in your third issue here. “Blogs You Should Be Reading”:

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Sure.  Why not?  Our goals may be different, but our passion for wine is shared.

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Yesterday Hahn Family Wines hosted the first ever Bloggers Tasting Forum at their offices in Napa.  (disclosure: I work for Hahn, but do not write this blog as part of my employment for them.)  Bloggers, winemakers, winery Presidents, winery owners, a journalist, a filmaker, a Director of Vineyard Operations,  and a PhD candidate studying bloggers were all in attendance.  There were also wine lovers who create content either via podcasts, (Vintuba.com) or a wine search engine (1,000 Corks).  Most folks were from the bay area, but some came from as far as Los Angeles, Tennessee, and Washington state.  The goals:  1.  To taste some of Hahn’s finest examples of Santa Lucia Highlands terroir, learn a bit about the AVA and each other.  2. Continue the conversation about wine bloggers and wineries working together.  How could that work?  To what end?  And how do bloggers and wineries manage credibility and integrity in exploration of the Wine World 2.0 experience.

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The variety of guests made for a fascinating and significant conversation.  Here’s what I took away from the event at first blush:

  • We’d like to host the Blogger Tasting Forum regularly, maybe quarterly. And perhaps at different wineries.
  • The variety and inclusive nature of attendees was essential to the chemistry in the room.  People from 3 guest wineries were there.  We poured from 2 who brought their wines: Twisted Oak, and Pianetta.  I wish Judd had brought Humanitas and Schlumberger.
  • There are absolutely a number of opportunities for bloggers and winereies to work together in ways totally appropriate and in ways that add tremendous value to the consumers experience, the bloggers experience and the wineries’ business.
  • The shift of influence in the wine world from old print media to new on-line media, especially in the form of blogs with character, variety and accessibility to the variety of wine lovers out there is essential to the success of a growing wine industry.  I can’t overstate this enough.  Those born digital are a massive, significant segment not just of the on-line world, but re-creating the on-line world.
  • Anything wineries can do to contribute to wine bloggers readership will help the wine industry in general and wineries and bloggers in specific.  It is the best, most interesting and direct access between wineries and consumers to cultivate conversations.  The more the better.
  • Anything bloggers can do to cultivate relationships with restaurants, wine bars, and their wine buyers to participate in their blog conversations and/or connect with the restaurant/wine bar blog could also have a great impact on the winery, blogger, consumer conversation.  Those wine directors and sommeliers are the influencers we’d love to have join the conversation more often.  They make the decisions about which wines appear on the wine lists.  Bloggers:  if you have them contributing to your blog conversations, wineries and many segments of the industry will absolutely HAVE to follow along, or get left in the dust.

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The questions that remain are many:

  1. How do you measure the value, i.e. the bottom line, for how a blogger can positively influence your wineries’ business?
  2. What is in it for the blogger?  Readership?  Wine? Consulting/writing fee?  Access to their subject?
  3. What does the wine consumer and wine blog reader gain by this collaboration?
  4. Is it enough to maintain your own integrity if you disclose the nature of the relationship between the business and the blogger?
  5. Another important question, squarely in the laps of bloggers, was so well put by Joe Roberts from 1WineDude:   “Heaven knows I’ve got no problem whatsoever being courted by winemakers, PR contacts, or the wine media in general (in fact, my view is that it’s about time this has happened). The trick is maintaining the willpower to keep a unique, individual, and (hopefully) credibly opinionated voice as a blogger while the “courting” ramps up.

Based on what Bill Leigon, President of Hahn, Adam LaZarre, winemaker and Andy Mitchell, Director of Vineyard Operations had to say yesterday, yes, Hahn wants to sell more wine: AND, “…we all have a passion for wine, we’re interested in educating people about our wines, our Central Coast wine region, our winemaking practices.”  And frankly, in the new media world that is 2.0, it is more possible to have a far reaching, diverse, informed conversation with more people without filters more than ever before.

So to the evolution of the conversation, in person, on-line and over a glass of wine.

Cheers!

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Photos provided courtesy of Thea Dwelle and Lisa Adams-Walter and Chris Butts.

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