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Archive for the ‘web 2.0’ Category

I like the combination of Educational Sessions for the Wine Trade, paired with Trade and/or consumer tastings the way ZAP and Wine 2.0 programmed over the last few days.   These smaller opportunities to connect and learn from other successful wineries or wine businesses is both valuable for guiding and directing our business as well as helpful and refereshing for the obvious networking opportunities.

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Thanks to Smoke & Anitra Wallin, Abdi Humphries, and the rest of the Wine 2.0 company, I was honored to moderate a Social Media in  Marketing panel for ZAP.  Along side Joel Vincent (of Open Wine Consortium, Wine Bloggers Conference and now VinTank) and Lesley Russell (VP of Sales & Marketing DTC at St. Supery), we chatted with attendees, outlining social media practices, especially in the wine industry including visibility, ROI and authenticity online.

Two other sessions at ZAP/Wine 2.0 talked first about Compliance Issues with tools, strategies and solutions to address wine industry challenges.  The final session was led by Lesley Berglund presenting, frankly fascinating findings from a study Benchmarking Direct to Consumer/Wine Club practices.  The study  illuminated statistics outlining the best practices that the most successful wine club practitioners exercise.  It is this kind of analytical study, sharing and strategic collaboration that makes great consumer experiences wherever they happen.  Dry for most, perhaps, but I am pretty excited about conversations and learning more about new, improved and best practices across the wine industry.

And the best part?  After the focus and exchange on best practices, we all connect and share the fruits of all the labor.  Either way, isn’t that what it is all about?  I’ll be sharing the follow up information on the DTC Benchmarking Practices and Compliance links here as well when I receive them.

wineglassesWine 2.0 panel photo courtesy of Smoke Wallin.

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Depends on your purpose.  Though I am hooked, what can hyper-connectivity do to add value to my life and, indeed, to the lives of mainstream America (and beyond) without making us a bunch of glow-y faced screen junkies?  There’s no formula…at least I couldn’t work by one, but I find myself missing twitter, the web and my 12Seconds if I’m gone from it for more that 2 days. (ok, 2 hours!)  And one basic rule I try to have is to be with the person in front of me…first.  So I try not to answer my cell phone, tweet relentlessly, and browse online or through my Storm while having lunch with someone.  Am I always successful…no.  I am a notorious time-stacker/multi-tasker.  But being with the person in front of me is important.  In fact, that moment may be WHY social media is so valuable…to create MORE of those moments together, in person!

nyeveThat’s me pictured twittering with my tweeples on New Year’s Eve.  I may have sent a dozen tweets or less focusing on my San Francisco bar & grill crawl, and my amazing, sassy friend Cortney.  But I was also missing sharing the New Year moment with all the tweeters I’ve developed a connection with over the past months.  The people in the twitterverse have become my friends, business associates, information gatherers, readers, and general resource for all things tech, wine, life.

The enthusiasm, freshness and candor with which they communicate is, well, refreshing!  So while we struggle with ROI, metrics, and the new world of online connectivity, what are we trading off?  Are the interpersonal moments sacrificed?  Is our culture heading further into short-attention-span-affliction?  And will all depth in connection be lost?

It is another point to balance as we continue to seek the work-life balance, let’s add to that the online-offline balance.

Do you have rules about your connectivity?  If you live by your phone/PDA as I do, have you noticed a decrease in quality when you hang out with your friends and family as they split their focus between you and their device?  I always think it rude that another restaurant patron will let their cell ring on end in the restaurant…I don’t really want to hear whatever their ringtone of the month happens to be!  I especially don’t want to hear 1/2 (or any) of their conversation.  Does anyone else worry about tech ettiquette?

Photo courtesy of Cortney’s i-phone, Jan 31, 2008.

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Conversation among wine industryprofessionals, marketing strategists and wine bloggers this week includes talking about some kind of Wine Blogger Certification, or a standard that ends up with a Seal of Approval in order to quickly and easily provide bloggers access to events, wineries, industry programming and so on.  I can see why some business people might seek such a …label, but I wonder about a simplified structure and I have many questions about how, why, wherefore.

The very counter-culture nature of blogging defies this kind of labeling and classification.  The bloggoshpere is the untamed frontier and an exciting place to find opinions, stories and recommendations. I have certainly heard people post that “some bloggers just want free (stuff) wine”.  But as I have spent some time reading wine blogs and actually spent time with the wine bloggers themselves, it is not an easy (usually unpaid) job to wine blog.  Any level of credibility or readership is hard earned and maintained by a level of quality, personality and humor.

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I have been a regular advocate for blogger access to the wine industry in the same way we grant access to traditional media and press.  Wine bloggers have an outreach that can potentially go deeper and beyond traditional print media…at least in the wine industry.  Just recently Hahn Estates hosted the first Bloggers Tasting Forum and ZAP will have a sponsored Bloggers Lounge offering bloggers free access to the 2 day event.  So far, these beginnings have suggested tremendous success in blogger/wine industry relationship building.   The expectation is that this access will directly benefit not just bloggers and wineries, but the consumers.  With greater access to information, recommendations and outreach, we aim to convert more people into wine lovers everywhere.

So, how would you classify bloggers?  They are a complex and various group of wineophiles from all over the world.   The current count is over 1,000 wine blogs and growing.  How would you define which ones get credentials for the wine events and which ones don’t?

  • By Readership?
  • Quality of writing?
  • Their own level of wine education?

And what if the wine blogger…a really great one…isn’t interested in the credential?  Most of the wine bloggers I have met are stunningly smart and busy with day jobs, families, hobbies and fully packed lives.  And as I have said before, they do their wine blog strictly for the passion of it.  The Wine Bloggosphere is better off because of them.  I would hate to see them squeezed out by beaucracy or obstacles that have less to do with a passion for wine and more to do with sorting that helps marketers achieve ROI.

What are your thoughts?

Graphic courtesy of Google Images.

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

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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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“There are journalists and there are bloggers.  There are doctors and there are faith healers.”  So said Jeff Cox moderating at the first Green Wine Summit yesterday in Santa Rosa, California during one of the breakout sessions.  Here’s my disclosure:  I’m not a doctor, a faith healer or a journalist.  But I am fascinated by the current debate and passion stirred up between the old media, aka traditional journalists and bloggers.  Wine bloggers in particular are wrestling with sorting their own guidelines, policy and formula we hope in an effort to uphold integrity in their writing.  And while some do work to maintain high journalistic standards in their blogs, many are passionate wineophiles, novice-experts, who offer their posts for whom ever is interested without claims of journalistic superiority nor breach of integrity.  They’re just writing stories, opinions, and reviews connecting with people who enjoy a similar interest.

newspaper1Is there a threat to old media journalists that provokes them to sneer or denigrate bloggers?  If you are measuring readership, perhaps so.  I’m not sure how you qualify as a “real journalist”.  Is it required to have a journalism degree?  From which college or university?  What if you never used that degree, became a teacher and now you blog?  Are you a “real journalist” then?  What if you don’t have the degree but have been working for a newspaper or magazine all your life, writing or editing?  Are you a “real journalist” then?

Most (wine) bloggers don’t suggest they are journalists.  We, their readers, hope and expect that they will aim for accuracy, honesty, integrity and full disclosure.  But even “real journalists” have fallen short on more than one occasion.   We also hope they will inform or entertain, lead us to great wine or make us laugh.  Perhaps their value comes from the variety of material available from the blogs;  but also from getting to know that voice, their tone and tendencies, their preferences and passions.  The likes of classic, computer1extraordinary journalists like Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney have captured their audiences in no small part by revealing much of themselves in their reporting and writing.  Who they are came through along with the information they were sharing.  That makes me think even more that blogging is about connecting;  connecting with people you share something with that maybe you don’t even know.  With so many differences that separate and divide us, I find it a treat to connect with smart, passionate, talented bloggers who offer their experiences in wry or poignant, frank or even silly on-line content in their blog.

There is a great deal more debate to have regarding the sorting, classifying and clarifying of bloggers policies, integrity, qualifications, etc.  The massive quantity of content on-line requires that users become better filters.  Bloggers will have to take it upon themselves to produce quality content with full disclosure and integrity with whatever voice, interpretation, independence or style they choose..  There is no certification process or Hippocratic oath for bloggers (oh wait, I don’t think there is one for journalists either).  Access to the internet has become a great equalizer giving many a voice, and readers, they never had before.  And ultimately readership may determine the success of any (wine) blog.  But, there are many who would write their blog even if no one were reading them.  This may beg the question, “Why?”.  Because they can.

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2986846355_e3b8d8f2c6_bThe Wine World is not quite all in on the 2.0 part of social networking, connecting and the blogosphere.  But soon, they will be.  No, I don’t have a date for when that will happen.  I have heard respected wine industry professionals suggest that when it comes to online technology, the wine industry is anywhere from 2 years to 10 years behind the rest of businesses.  So we watch and learn what the tech pioneers do in this space as we position ourselves to engage and develop the community for the wine world 2.0.

Technology and communication online are not the slam dunk tools or obvious replacements for anything in our industry, yet.  I frequently forget, (operating in this space for hours a day) that many people are only answering e-mail and maybe making purchases online and that’s it …so far.  And this time lag (between industry scouts and the general public)  is what gives us an opportunity to define best practices, connections and modus operandi.  Meanwhile, I have been suggesting wineries take advantage of the bloggosphere, the talent and passion of the people writing here and listen and learn from them.  I believe there is a valuable exchange between the wineries and bloggers for the benefit of consumers; Brian Solis articulates why this may be applied to the wine industry here: Monologue has given way to dialog. Social media has created a new layer of influencers. It is the understanding of the role people play in the process of not only reading and disseminating information, but also how they in turn, share and also create content for others to participate. This, and only this, allows us to truly grasp the future of communications.”1111734161_beadef031a_o

So what might that look like?  I think it looks like bridging the connection between wineries and the average consumer, personalizing the wine experience, including MORE people in the conversations we have.  I think that bloggers can help wineries do that so that a majority of the wine drinking public have that bottle of wine every night, share wine by bringing it to their friends’ or neighbors’ homes for dinner and talk about the experience that brings us together.  We want them to think of wine as a primary part of their dining experience, not an afterthought.  I think that means engaging them.  I think bloggers do that.  Whatever your style or content preferences, wine bloggers offer a variety of humor, entertainment, education, information, reviews, opinions, etc.

That’s why I think starting with conversations with bloggers, listening, and looking for ways beyond old media to reach out to the consumers is of tremendous value to wineries, consumers and the bloggosphere.  It’s not as great a leap as some make it out to be.  It is happening in business and across industries now, as reported by Guy Kawasaki in the Razorfish Report, posted on the OWC page by Joel Vincent.

Heck, even beyond the savvy wineries with blogs, web sites, and twitter accounts who are listening (or engaging their community), including Twisted Oak, Michel Schlumberger, Sacre Bleu, St. Supery, the most exciting thing I find from these wineries is that there are people who care behind the technology.  And let’s not forget, that more than anything, whatever the technology, social media, i-phones, BlackBerries,  or whatever comes along, it is about connecting …authentically.

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Web 2.0 photo from my flickr photostream.

Additional photos courtesy of Dan Wharmby.

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