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Archive for the ‘web 2.0’ Category

WnVCover

A giant thank you to my esteemed colleagues, wine lover bloggers and interested spectators who have watched with interest, fanned up with passion or snickered with disbelief about the “Banned in ‘Bama” issue turned campaign that peaked as the summer was pedaling to its end.

President of Hahn Estates, Bill Leigon, also passes on his gratitude and respect for the online wine media, bloggers and social media he’s praised for years  in the latest Wines and Vines Guest Editorial. It is likely too small to read here…but I wanted you to know what you’re looking for in case you come across it in the industry magazine.

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Another example of social media’s power in action.

Cheers.

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SMicons2Now that social media in wine and hospitality seems mainstream, facebook fan pages are de rigeur, and the twitter, flickr, fb, digg, etc. logos are plastered everywhere, there’s something significant missing in the translation of the message on connecting.  Referring back to the cocktail party analogy, would you host a party and not be there?  Invite guests to your home to connect and entertain them and leave everything up to a catering staff for interacting with your guests?

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I sure hope you answered no to both questions.  If you did, why on earth would you launch a social media program and issue automatic direct messages to your guests?  Why would you post generic, monthly or weekly messages (imagine a PA system a la high school) announcing, shouting at people something they didn’t ask you about?  Do you understand the concept of real conversation?  If I come to your home, I’m excited to see YOU…and if you have the butler answer the door, the bartender entertain me and the cook tell me loads of information, guess what…I’m probably not coming back.  Nor will I tell my friends anything positive about that experience.

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Maybe you’re mislead by the cold, technological tool in front of you…your laptop (i-phone, Storm, whatever).  What you must not forget is that there are real, flesh and blood, passionate people on the other end who love wine, hospitality, their friends, family, travel, SCUBA, or whatever FAR more than they love your bottom line.  While technology extends our reach by several orders of magnitude greater than we can imagine, you cannot lose your sensitivity, your listening skills, your inter-personal talents in the hopes of automating connection.  Businesses hoping to increase their business without getting involved, asking questions, caring and listening are doomed to fail, and fail on a large scale in public.

Our friend @winebratsf is right.  And she is doing businesses a service by letting them know what she wants and why she’s there.  Many people I know just “unfollow” a business that gets impersonal, automated or uninteresting.  If you can’t make the personal investment in the relationships, you are in the wrong place.  Give more than you get.  Provide value.  Care.  Share.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading.  Cheers!

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Giant strides are very exciting.  In our industry, a slow, seasonally affected, growing, pressing and aging pace sometimes takes over and causes our progress to lag a bit behind faster moving industries (tech, TV, advertising…to name a few).  So when the wine industry makes a leap, it generates a wave impossible to ignore, exciting to watch, and exhilirating to participate in whenever you can.  This summer in particular, Social Media in Wine Marketing has taken that giant stride, nay leap forward opening up imagination, possibility and interactive wine marketing experiences new in the wine world.

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Contributing to the leaps forward upto and including the summer of 2009, credit must go to the Wine Bloggers Conference, Twitter Taste Live, The Open Wine Consortium, the Bloggers Tasting and Planting Forums to name a few; accessible, frequent, groundbreaking online interaction between wine lovers, wine bloggers and the wine industry building a critical mass, connecting technology with everyone and anyone with a passion or passing interest in wine.  Then there is the Murphy-Goode, Really Goode Job campaign.  Regardless of what you think about the job (temporary, contractually a quagmire, and possibly vague in its mission) or the campaign (missing some basic social media fundamentals, mysterious in its process, depersonalized), the gimick of the search has splash landed as one of the top 10 topics we wine bloggers talk about.  Some of my favorite Wine Bloggers were on the MG top 50 list (some are still on the top 10 list).  Add to that the VinTank promise to donate $100K in Social Media strategy consulting if Murphy-Goode selects one of the VinTank 4+ and the buzz has gone viral.

LesOpportunity abounds.  And I gotta say that the coolest crest of this wave in Social Media evolution this summer in our industry, in our little Wine Valley has to be St. Supery (and specifically, Lesley Russell’s work) choosing to search, strategize and carve out a position for a highly experienced full time Social Media director to fortify their marketing team. The shift to new media is now working from within the wineries, connecting with and hiring people from a food, wine and social media background. Smart?  Hell, yeah.  Without the gimmick but with a thorough sifting and months of their own experience, St. Supery jumps in the rest of the way.  Their resume of social media history from 2008-2009 includes Lesley Russell speaking on panels (including the ZAP/ Wine 2.0 Social Media Panel and the DTC Summit Panel, “Relationship, Relevance and Results”), Twitter Taste Live wine tasting, a Bloggers Tasting Forum, multiple-avid participants on twitter, real facebook fan page development, and a series called “The Divine Wine Encounter” for trade wine folks.

So we’re talking about St. Supery’s newest hire, Mr. Rick Bakas.  I can’t wait to see what happens now…And I couldn’t be

RBakasmore delighted for St. Supery, the Bakas family and for Napa Valley and the wine industry.  In their continuing leadership in social media marketing, I’m excited to watch them execute a thoroughly thoughtful strategy with great wine, talented people on their team and a tremendous growing network of real and virtual fans.  It also may mean that social media/wine lovers will have a winery to call home in the Napa Valley, a headquarters to start or finish their wine quests…and a place that gets the brilliance and social value of the technology that connects us.

As if we needed an excuse to raise our glass, these are exciting times.  Cheers!

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Who doesn’t love a big wet sloppy kiss every now and then?  Oh good grief:  perhaps it is a wild frontier in the wine industry with the emergence of Web 2.0.  It isn’t easy trying to figure out where wine industry, wine/web 2.0 companies and wine bloggers all fit in together and how they fit together.  But no one can deny the direction and the trend toward web 2.0 participation in social networking, wine consumers and wine technology businesses.  Yes, I’ve covered parts of this topic before (Wineries and Bloggers).  And there is something to add to this conversation based on recent blows, insults and online conversations between old media and wine bloggers.

Frankly, I’d like to see wineries sponsor wine bloggers to get to the WBC.   I may end up in hot water for saying this, but I believe the community will benefit if the experienced, contributing, talented bloggers are in the room (and not just the ones who can afford to be there).  And why not?  Why shouldn’t the wine industry invest in the blogging industry as a whole. It certainly isn’t going anywhere.  Do we want honesty?  Sure.  Transparency?  Of course.   So let’s set it up that way.  We’ll need the voices of capable, committed of bloggers (or blobbers) with talent and integrity.  Fortunately, I don’t think it will be too hard to find those wine bloggers.

The last paragraph was an excerpt from a comment I posted on DirtySouthWine ‘s blog.  I continue to think there is value in wineries and bloggers  working together to increase the flow of information, education and all that is extraordinary about the wine experience to consumers and anyone passionate about wine.  Initially I approached Joel Vincent regarding a winery funded sponsorship for bloggers to attend the WBC.  Unfortunately, resources (human, time) were in short supply to make it happen this year.  Alternately, wineries could offer to sponsor bloggers directly.  Certainly include transparency, honesty, and what works for your program.  The idea is to contribute value, increase access, information, education and promote the wine experience.

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Bloggers are different from journalists.  They have been called “other” (thanks, 1WineDude) and they have been likened to “Faith Healers” (Jeff Cox).  Wine lovers who are moved to blog have also been called influencers (Joel Vincent).   Similar to getting advice from our most trusted friends and family, regarless of their certification or education, bloggers are also influencers to their peer-like community.  Research indicates that people trust their chosen influencers in their friends and family circle more so than they trust advertising, marketing and businesses.  Likewise, it seems many bloggers have already decided that their own audience will determine their value, appreciating their integrity and content. Or not.

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Great crowd, fantastic wines, cool mix up of technology and of course…this very social event: that was the basic recipe for Thursday’s Wine 2.0 Tasting.  The tweet-stream of the evening played high above the crowd.  Video screens and projectors with various content were in every row.  But I think my favorite part has to be the bloggers lounge.  Here, Wine 2.0 is working to set aside space for food & wine bloggers to do what they do right there at the event.  Of course no one wants to spend a whole tasting attached to their keyboard when there is wine to enjoy…but the possibility of connecting a few readers with the bloggers experience in real time, maybe some photos and a couple quick wine reviews, sounds like a great blend of technology and  current, relevant stuff.  My next hope is that consumers at the tasting have enough exposure to the bloggers at the event and have the opportunity to connect with the wine bloggers and their content.

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The greatest value I see in creating a space for the bloggers at these events, in addition to acknowledging their passion and contribution to the wine loving world, is to connect them with consumers and fellow trade to increase exposure and readership.  I think the next easy step is to include links to the attending bloggers’ web sites. Their content continues to be entertaining, interesting, educational and valuable to wine consumers…and did I mention wine blogs are free?  They can help cover wines attendees weren’t able to get to or couldn’t remember.  Their coverage of the event seems to me to be an obvious way to reconnect with the wine tasting experience, the wineries and the wine bloggers who were there.

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There are always more wine blogs to check out.  My blog roll to the right here is continually getting longer and their content keeps getting better.  There is so much variety that I’m sure you’ll find one to suit your taste.  Check out a wine blog now.

Cheers.

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fbI have been on facebook for a while…maybe a year or two.  Several friends dragged me after I had already spent time assembling a MySpace page…also a year or two ago.  At first it seemed like a great place to semi-connect with friends and family through photos & messages.  Fast forward to today.  In addition to the hundreds of friends I have on my personal facebook page, I (co) manage a Fan page for Hahn Family Wines, Cycles Gladiator and Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans.  I am fascinated to watch as people become fans, contribute photos, discussions, questions, and as the content fills out on these pages.

Did you know there is a Fan page for facebook?  It is packed with great information, it is easy to sort through and essential if you are an administrator for any fan or group pages.  We’re all still collaborating and working together (within the wine company and among fellow wineries) to figure out how best to use the facebook group and fan pages.  What kind of content is interesting to the fans?  What keeps them coming back to the fan pages?  And why?  How will these virtual gathering places bring value, content and wine interest that wine lovers want, need and keep current in their lives?  And the bniggest question:  Will they buy wine as a result?

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This is the first post in a series on facebook in the wine industry.  I have been to the facebook offices and met with my new friend Andrew who built News Feed for facebook (thanks Cortney Erin).  Andrew and I are working on a conversation for the Wine 2.0 event on April 2 to answer questions and walk wine industry guests through the “how to’s” and “why for” on facebook for wine lovers.  We know Gary V and facebook’s Dave Morin are hanging out …and further, facebook and Wine Library are in a partnership.  LOVE THAT!  Once again, anything that brings wine to a wider audience I am in favor of, indeed!  And leave it to Gary to convert the unconverted.  He has successfully uncorked facebook…there are no limits.

facebookwineSo the whole point of this post is to set up musings about facebook for businesses, groups and the wine industry…asking why?  What do you have to say about how you use facebook?  Do you participate in groups?  What for?  Community?  Information?  Facebook is doing an awesome job of staying ahead of the curve…redesigning the home page, adjusting status updates, offering feeds from blogs, twitter, flickr, and so on.  And what about facebook connect?  What will that mean for facebook interface, blog commenting, posting, etc?  We’ll find out much more about facebook connect when we sit down with Andrew on April 2 in San Francisco.

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I see a lot of potential here, both for users and for wineries on facebook.  Yet, a lot of the functionality, value and interest will be (like most successful Web 2.0 sites) user generated.  So is the wine community interested and engaged enough to participate on facebook when it comes to groups and fan pages?  That means both the industry, providing the fan pages and intital content AND the consumers, adding interest and content as they become more engaged.  Is there enough content and need or desire to bring people back to the Fan/Group pages again and again?  The great thing about wine is that it engenders social activity, conversation and participation.  Our industry is uniquely positioned to partner beautifully within social media, to  inform, educate and  connect…all in conversation about wine.  There are already dozens of wine groups and fan pages.  Check these out and let us know what you think.  And share additional wine group or fan pages in the comments section here as well.  There’s a lot we can learn from each other as we sort through this new meduim.  I find more to learn and additional ways to connect through social media, so I am thrilled the wine industry has found its way here.  Because as we have heard before: “Better relationships drive better business, period.” (Amber Naslund)

Cheers!

Photos courtesy of facebook and my Blackberry Storm and ICanHasCheeseburger.

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I’m kind of in my own world here both at my company and in the wine industry, living in social media.  Ok, wait!  Yes, there are a few hands-full of early adopters, bless you!  The wine bloggers, the tech savvy, the curious, the adventurous…you know who you are.  But on average, in the general part of my industry…where I live, we are in the minority.  My point is that the leadership at my company (thank you Bill Leigon, Evelyn Pool) are dedicated to connecting online with wine lovers and allow me to participate, learn and share with you all a great deal.  But that’s not enough.  Within the rest of the company (a couple dozen talented sales reps and admin across the country as well as a winery full of craftsmen & women) I feel compelled to convert the un-initiated at Hahn to a high level of social media participation…to participate somewhere, anywhere online.

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I think it is the essential place to start.  As a brand or company, you can’t go forth and exist online for your brand alone.  Working toward a tipping point within your own company is critical.  Your co-workers may all participate at different levels and perhaps even in different places, but that they ARE participating online is essential.  It is a slow process inviting and training people into the medium, we’re all so busy already.  But, in addition to the presentations I do at every National Meeting, I work to send regular updates, links and direction on participating online whether that is inviting our people to comment on a blog (personal interest OR professional, anywhere is a great place to start), learning about “Twitter in Plain English” or getting them on ICanHasCheeseBurger …whatever it takes.

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We all know from experience that once you get the bug, whether it was from wine, biking, politics or just connecting with your family, you get hooked.  And that is the addiction I am pushing: an electronic connection with others that broadens our social circle and our filter for information.  We all know that amazing things happen when we do that here, on twitter, blogging, on facebook, wherever.  But it takes time.  It can be frustrating.  It can be very slow going….and it must be one of the primary pursuits of any company working to thrive online.  So I approach my co-workers with the suggestion that they pursue what they love to do in real life…and find a place that fits in with that passion online.  Whatever your passions, professional or personal, there are groups, social networks and loads of sites online where you can connect, learn, share and participate with other people who share your passion.  It makes you an essential connector within your company; a powerful brand ambassador, and a socially knowledgable participant in what’s happening right now.  It is another way to get an edge in your own marketability too.  Just make sure you do it right. (And that is in  several other blog posts!)

Now get in there!

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