Social Media: Thinking Beyond the Label

How can small wineries use social media to build a big following? Without question, the main battleground for marketing any limited distribution wine in the U.S., is on the retail shelf. Even small wine shops have an overwhelming number of labels available to the average wine shopper. That’s why there is seemingly endless creativity in the label and name game. But with more than 15,000 catchy labels and names available on store shelves across the country, if a smaller winery can’t outspend its peers to cross that tipping point of collective consciousness, cultural relevance and realize any substantial market share increase requires, the have to outsmart them.

Start the Conversation you want, but don’t try to have it with everyone.

If the explosion of social media outlets has you a bit flustered, now you know how consumers feel about picking wine. Trying to speak to everyone using these media outlets will likely result in exhaustion and no results, but if you focus on the key influencers, those small numbers of passionate wine lovers who people actually ask for advice or recommendations, here are 5 simple ways to get started.

1. Use the original social media.

If you’re a marketing director for a winery, take two days a month and get out and hear first hand what the sales associates and shoppers in the most influential shops are saying about your wine.

2. Join Twitter.

True oenophiles can’t seem to get enough of the inside scoop. Twitter (twitter.com) provides the perfect platform for providing that connection. Let your followers know about every stage of the winemaking process—your ups, your downs, your victories and failures. Take 30 seconds a day to bring your best brand advocates along and make them part of the story- they will surely demand to know how your next vintage turns out when they feel part of the process. Further, you can announce new varietals, promotions, new distribution outlets etc.

 

3. Post and advertise on Facebook.

Facebook’s recent privacy invasions aside, it’s hard to overlook a couple hundred million eyeballs. Facebook’s advertising platform lets you listen for milestone events (weddings, engagements, anniversaries, etc.) or general wine chatter and target your messaging against those events or conversations. You can find information about marketing on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/advertising/.

4. Engage with the bloggers.

The number of wine blogs has exploded in the past few years. This report (http://www.winebusiness.com/news/?go=getArticle&dataId=66751) from Wine Business News highlights the importance and benefits of engaging these key influencers in the wine conversation.

5. Start your own blog.

A blog is a great way to give your brand a personality, increase the understanding of what your brand is about and it provides much needed fodder for search engines. You can comment on other wine blogs with links back to your site to increase optimization.

It’s not more work, it’s smart work.

The biggest complaint or reservation marketers seem to have about social media is the time it takes to engage with it on a meaningful level. And while it does, in fact, require time and attention, basic engagement can be accomplished in less than 15 minutes a day if you are disciplined about it. Further, if you are not engaged with social media yet, to prevent from getting overwhelmed or discouraged, start with a single outlet and build your skills and reputation before branching out. If you’re lucky, people are talking about your brand. If you’re smart, you’ll be participating and guiding that conversation to your fame and fortune.