Why the fear?
- They recognize there is a learning curve and think they don’t have the time.
- They read about a disaster that may befall them if they make a mistake.
- They don’t see a connection between participating and revenue.
- They see that not everyone agrees on its value or where its value lies.
- They just want to make wine and hope for the best.
- Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Yelp. Enough already!
The one thing that wineries may think about social media, is that it’s free. And that’s where they are wrong. It’s not free. True, you don’t have to pay to use Facebook, Twitter, and all the others. But you do have to learn how to use them to benefit your winery, and your time isn’t free.
- Did you have the time to learn how to make wine, to operate a winery, to open a tasting room? Do you not spend time learning how to make wine better, to make your winery more efficient, to attract more people to your tasting room? Shouldn’t sales matter? Shouldn’t people be aware of your brand? Yes, all this takes time. But it is time well spent.
- Why do disasters happen? Mistakes can be made. McDonald’s thought it had a winning idea in asking people to tell their stories of dining at McDonald’s. Well, they did. Except they weren’t all positive and people posted complaint after complaint. Ok, they got hit hard. But they’re still around. Move on. But mistakes can be minimized.
Don’t hire someone to run your social media campaigns simply because they are young and will “work for wine.” They need to understand your brand and what you are trying to promote. See what other wineries do. Read stories about how to use social media well. It is a learning curve. Spend time learning how to engage with people. It’s not about advertising. Advertising is about advertising. But if you must “advertise” in social media, think of it as brand building and not selling 20% more Cabernet.
- What’s the ROI? Now there’s a cliché. Not everything you do even at the winery can be measured against sales. Don’t you talk to people in your tasting room even if you can’t be sure they will buy your wine? What do you do there? You engage with them. You welcome them. You ask where they are from. You pour wines for them and talk about the wines. You suggest other wineries to visit and restaurants to dine in. You thank them even if they don’t buy your wines. This is what social media is about. Think of it as greeting them in your tasting room even when they are not right there.
- There are few things that everyone agrees on. There are people who insist that if you don’t participate in social media, you might as well close up shop tomorrow. And there are others who say that since social media hasn’t totally driven all sales, it never will. The truth is somewhere between those two, but maybe not exactly in the middle. You might very well stay in business a long time without even knowing what social media is. Or you could be heavily engaged in social media and go out of business tomorrow (we hope that doesn’t happen). But neither proves one side to be right.
- Making good wine is a great art (not to mention skill). But selling it is sort of important too. Some winemakers say if they can’t sell their wine, they will drink it all themselves. Cute. But not real. Getting great ratings (95+ points) has helped in the past. Will it always continue that way? Want to simply wait to find out? Or would you like to get younger people interested in your wine. According to a recent article in the Wine Spectator (old media, yes I know), younger people are getting into better wine, imported wine, interesting blends. Do these people read Spectator, care about points, or buy what they are “supposed” to buy? Do you believe that the way you’ve always done things is the right way. As W. Somerset Maugham said “Tradition is a guide. Not a jailer.” Try something new. Who knows, it may work.
- Yes, there are many social media apps today. And there will be more tomorrow. No one has time to be on all of them. But they are not all the same. Where are your customers? Where are your potential customers? It’s worth taking the time to see which social media applications work best for you. Here’s a thought. Log onto Facebook under your own name (not the winery name) and “like” just about every winery you can find. Read their posts. Read the comments on their posts. See what engages their fans. You might even enjoy it, even if you thought nothing will come of it if you do it.
This isn’t mean to be definitive. And if you really want to participate more deeply in social media, there are ways to do it even more successfully. A company called VinTank will monitor all conversations about your brand and let you know so you can respond to them if you choose. You can learn how to use Google Analytics to see where visitors to your website are coming from, what they are doing there, and if they aren’t buying, possibly become Sherlock Holmes and find out why.