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Marketing,PR Advice,Wine,Wine Making,Wine tasting,Wine Writer,Winemaker,Winery

Understanding Twitter As a Wine Marketing Tool

As a former radio broadcaster, I was first introduced to the power of electronic media in the 1980s.

I was working at WBLM in Portland, Maine. One of my duties was to produce and moderate a community issues talk program, called the “Public Ear.” It aired every Sunday morning at 6:00 a.m, which was why I wanted to pre tape it and not do it live. This program helped to meet Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements for serving the public. Licenses are given by the FCC to radio stations. In the 1980s, licenses had to be renewed once every seven years. How it was renewed was by proving that the station had been serving the public good, and I was WBLM’s public servant for 11 years. Part of my job was producing programs that served the public. My other production was called “Modern Health.” It was one minute, pre-recorded tidbits that made people think about what they were doing with their bodies; e.g., advocating for seat belts before they were mandatory.

The feedback I got from electronic media taught me a long time ago about the power of electronic words. The written word can be read, seen, and internalize… We all know this. The power of electronic words are just as powerful when heard. If they weren’t, AM and FM radio would be commercial free.

Along comes the Internet, and we now have many more options available to us as marketers, and the early adopters – like in all things – will reap the most benefits.

Twitter…

[Notice the screen and the content on the screen. It’s Twitter in real time. As we attended the European Wine Bloggers Conference and Tweeted what was going on, attendees also were able to watch the activity. This, of course, encouraged the wine bloggers to use this tool for broadcasting what we were doing.]

I’ve personally experienced the power of Twitter with a few classic examples:

European Wine Bloggers Conference, October 2009

My Portuguese client Enoforum Wines had signed up for the Conference, and they also made it possible for Gwendolyn Alley (winner of the contest to travel with me to Portugal) and me to attend. While at the conference, I was having Internet connectivity problems. The hotel we were in wasn’t capable of handling over 100 people all wanting to be online at the same time. (Not many are, regardless of the country.) Getting on-line was a subset of the conference each day. Frustrated with this circumstance and wanting to share with the world what was going on was my motive. I’m a marketer, so I went there to begin my marketing of being in Portugal.

I was left with my Blackberry, and it delivered. During “The Douro Boys” and the “Ports and Sherries” seminars I gave a play-by-play for each. It was received by the world, much the same way a televised or radio broadcast would have been. People in China and India, as well as the United States thanked me (on Twitter) for including them, and encouraged me to keep the flow coming. They attended through my tweets, and were very thankful.

I came away understanding three solid and immediate results:

  1. People who were not at the seminars lived them vicariously, picking up valuable information.
  2. My Tweets were retweeted by my Twitter friends to their Twitter friends worldwide (e.g., China, India, US, Europe).
  3. Although the ripple effect couldn’t be immediately measured, it was understood by this marketer.

University of Davis Extension Program: PR for Small Wineries, December 2009

With Rusty Eddy of Clayhouse Wines as the annual instructor of this Extension class, about 30 wine companies attended his seminar this year, in order to better understand how to execute on their winery PR. Josh Capozzi (PinotBlogger), Steve Heimoff, and I were Rusty’s panel members. We all discussed PR in the wine business. This year’s emphasis was social media, and each of us has/had a unique perspective to share.

  • The PinotBlogger is a wine company executing on social media.
  • Steve Heimoff is the recipient of social media, as a wine writer.
  • I was the PR professional using and educating my clients about their own needs for social media.

You need to know that Josh has yet to release his first vintage of Pinot Noir; however, when it is released, it’s already sold out. (Does anyone need anymore proof that social media really works?)

Steve Heimoff has given me his recollections of Josh’s discussion about his Pinot when it’s released, and I also remember it going this way… In all fairness, I need to add this information, with Steve’s permission for adding:

“re: Josh selling out of his Pinot Noir, if I remember correctly he said that enough people have signed up for his list so that, when he does release it, if they all buy it, he’ll be sold out. But that’s a big ‘if.'”

Regarding the seminar and Twitter, because I was Tweeting:

  1. People who were not there attended vicariously, picking up valuable information.
  2. My Tweets were retweeted by my Twitter friends to their Twitter friends, again.
  3. UC Davis also began to follow me that day, and retweeted the seminar to their Twitter accounts.
  4. Although the ripple effect couldn’t be immediately measured… you might be beginning to get it, if you haven’t already.

Visit to winemaker Sean Thackrey’s on January 7, 2010

This event included Hardy Wallace of Dirty South Wine and Murphy Goode’s Very Goode Job fame, wine writer Steve Heimoff, and my marketing partner Jose Diaz. Hardy, Jose, and I all are in the wine marketing business, so we all completely understood the immense opportunity that we had with this wine making legend. For Sean, it was probably his first physical, virtual visit. For Steve, it was his first time seeing me mixing business with pleasure. He blogged about the experience after the fact (A Thoughtful Visit to the Far Marin Coast).

So has Hardy blogged about the day (From the Center Of The Edge: Wine-Maker Sean Thackrey).

My next blog entry will be about our day, too. So, Sean is the recipient of three blog stories and a lot of Twitter exposure. That day, Sean Thackrey fans came out of the woodwork, all wishing – openly – that they could have been with us. I even have to call Sean to ask him a fan’s question, which I’ll be including in my blog story, because it’s a great one…

@streamertyer ~ Generally interested in how Mr. Thackrey came to choose his astronomically related #wine names and is he an avid astronomer?

In Steve’s blog, he wrote about Hardy and my Twittering, as if he were thinking out loud. And he should, given that he’s not a marketer, but was watching marketers in action. I believe that this was his first time in such an intense Twitter environment. He admitted that he doesn’t quite get it, but then – he doesn’t need to. He’s not a wine marketer, nor does he need to be. He’s a wine writer. And, he has outlets for his work, like Wine Enthusiast, books that he’s penned, and his wine blog.

Hardy and I, on the other hand, are hired by others to bring their brands into the limelight. We do it with any vehicle sitting in the parking lot, which on this day was the Twitter Mobile.

Like all forms of innovation, the early adopters reap the most benefits, and are placed at the head of the pack. By the time the late adopters come on board, the early adopters are already in another train. There are boarding stations for out trains, and a few do jump into these shiny new trains headed to yet new unexplored territories, to their advantage.

We’ve only just begun this Twitter marketing journey, and I ain’t stoppin’ any time soon. I love to explore.

Do you have a Twitter marketing success story that you’d like to share? I just know some of you do. Let’s get a collection going, so Josh’s experience is just one great example.

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28 Responses to “Understanding Twitter As a Wine Marketing Tool”

  1. Mike Gee says:

    We too have just started to explore the use of Twitter in our overall marketing of http://www.sippd.com. I have done quite a lot of reading and have begun (slowly) building a regular pattern of Tweets (www.twitter.com/sippdwines), Facebook updates (www.facebook.com/sippdwines) and Blogging (www.sippd.com/blog). In a very short time I have realized that these are fantastic ways of letting people know WHAT you are about and WHAT you are doing. FYI – Love the blog!

  2. Roger says:

    Excellent story Jo, and how true.

    For example, I have the Temecula Valley

    They know wine, and they know me

    I know them, and I know twitter

    Twitter knows me, and it also knows you as well as thousands of other wine enthusiasts interested in, well, wine

    It’s a snowball effect for marketing. You had never tried any Temecula Valley AVA wine until I contacted you on twitter. Cougar winery was interested in what I had to say so they sent you their vermentino. You loved it and voila, word is spread and promotion occurs.

    Cheers

  3. Jo says:

    Thanks, Roger… proving the point perfectly. We now also have ArtPredator/WinePredator – as of last night on Twitter – also now really interested in the Temecula Valley wines… More ripples…

  4. Jo says:

    Mike,

    Thanks for commenting and for your compliment about the blog.

    Your Website is wonderful, too; and what I really love about it (because of today’s topic), is how accessible you’ve made your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

    The power of this electronic revolution cannot be underscored.

    We’re in the days of Henry Ford trying to crank out a few cars, and we’re the ones buying them… having the ride of our lives. Everyone will eventually want one, most people will have one, and some people will just fade away, never knowing… Meanwhile, those of us in the loop are all just having a blast.

  5. 1WineDude says:

    A great and lucid take on the twitter phenom.

    I have always looked at twitter as a cross between the Internet chat rooms of old, and good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Few tools can do quite as much to help in building brand awareness with such a low barrier to entry.

    I’ve always looked at twitter as an essential element of building the 1WineDude.com “brand” online. Over the last 6 months, referrals from twitter are in the top 5 sources of my log traffic (facebook, as useful as it is, doesn’t even crack the top 10). It eclipses referrals coming from big websites, like CNBC.com, by a factor of twenty-five.

    As far as I’m concerned, I’ve seen the light & the age of twitter is well upon us.

    Cheers!

  6. Dale Cruse says:

    Joe, my traffic sources are similar but depending on the day, Twitter is often my #1 or #2 source!

  7. Dale Cruse says:

    Joe, I’m going to play the devil’s advocate & wonder if we get so much traffic to our blogs from Twitter because we spend most of our day on Twitter.

    If we spent more time on Facebook & engaged our audiences there more, would we get more traffic from it? I wonder.

  8. 1WineDude says:

    Hey Dale – we might. A good experiment would be to use tweetdeck or similar to cross-post to both, and see if that ups the traffic from FB.

    However, I’d only caution to keep it real – if we dig twitter more, then we should use that and continue to use it in a genuine way.

  9. Dale Cruse says:

    Joe, I use TweetDeck & will begin that experiment right now!

  10. 1WineDude says:

    I’m on it as well!

  11. Jo,

    Great post. I agree– use any vehicle in the lot. I also think you play both where the eyeballs are (in this case twitter), and where you think they will be (online video beamed directly from the mothership 😉

    Thank you for one of the best days I’ve had in CA Wine Country!

  12. Jo says:

    Joe,

    Thanks for your success story. You’ve a great case study, because you’re so visible. I haven’t analyzed my “referrals” like you have, but I can tell you this (and, of course now I have to go look)… My posting of this title went onto Twitter this morning, as it does every morning. Because this one had to do with Twitter as a marketing tool, my Retweets are much more than the average day, and so are the people who are unique visitors today. I know this is a result of using Twitter, and not just have my blog be my only tool in my tool box. (Imagine only living with one item, like a hammer in your tool box, when we all need a screw drive, once in a while.)

  13. Jo says:

    Dale… also proving the point…

    I can also say this: Steve Heimoff loves Facebook. As a writer, it’s perfect for him, because he’s not controlled by 140 characters, and the poor spelling we all have to use to get a larger point across than Twitter allows in characters.

    On his Facebook page, he gets copious comments, when he runs a controversial point. Follow his streams, and you’ll see he’s using Facebook as we’re using Twitter.

    I see Twitter as two separate worlds… Personal (Woke up 2day & sun is shining.), and Professional (U would luv this wine, cause it’s so juicy.)

  14. Jo says:

    Hardy… Awwwwww… That’s so nice of you. I love taking people on adventures. (My years in this business have accumulated a cast of wonderful characters, like Sean Thackrey, and as I suggested to you, Carl Doumani… we might have to plan that one, too.)

    I love your video of that day… Nonchalant and cool. What an amazing day. It’s also going down as one of my best!

  15. Ed Thralls says:

    Great post, Jo. Multiple examples provided and, of course, explanation over on Heimoff’s blog about your role, job and intentions.

    Great analogy regarding vehicle in the lot, and I’ll add if used in concert with your other “vehicles” the resulting system can really work wonders.

    Look forward to more adventures.

    Ed

  16. Jo says:

    Thanks, Ed. By the way, the Twitter Mobile – for me – is a Silver Ferrari. My blog is the motor home that takes me on more adventures. Of course, I’ll be sharing. Looks like you’ve got a few adventures on your blog, too.

  17. El Jefe says:

    Sorry to be such a downer, but I read these rather self-congratulatory pieces on “social media” all the time, and I remain unamused and deeply skeptical. This is not a rhetorical question: could someone here please point to a specific incidence of a consumer purchasing a bottle of wine as a result of a Tweet?

    Thanks and regards.

  18. Weiguokong says:

    Hi,Jo!
    A great post!I think Twitter is a useful marketing tool for the world wine industry!I will try to use Twitter for wine tasting and marketing in China!

  19. 1WineDude says:

    He Jeff (El Jefe) – tweets won’t sell wine. Most blogs won’t either, unless they offer some easy-to-absorb ratings, maybe.

    It’s not about sales, it’s about influencing and expanding what is said about your brand on-line. Exposure.

  20. Jo says:

    El Jefe,

    This question reminds me of a boss I once had, who didn’t get why I was doing PR for the radio station. She inherited me when she was promoted, and the man who had initially hired me had moved to a bigger job within the corporation. She hated paying me each month, because her background was sales, and mine was PR. She made my life miserable. Her final great horrah was when she found out in January of 1992 that by October, Jose – who was the VP of programming for this corporation – and I were moving to California.

    She called me into her office in January, right after finding out about our plans. I walked in and said to her, “Don’t tell me, let me tell you… You can’t afford me anymore.” She said, “Wow, how did you know?” I could have said so many things, but I didn’t. What I did say, because I was very invested in my PR relationships within Portland, Maine (in the midst of creating a scholarship for immigrants and refugees at the University of Southern Maine, through the English as a Second Language program and the Portland Rotary club, with lots more to do before it was done) – “Just let me continue with my job, but you don’t have to pay me.” I then went on to work from January through December. (I didn’t move in October… kids, school, house to sell, etc. I came out on Dec. 29, 1992.)

    Where was I going to go, and what was I going to do for the next 10 months in Maine? … Certainly not find another job. Who would hire me? So, I kept on producing my programs, documenting the public service that I was creating in their public file… all for free.

    Then, I moved to California as planned, leaving that job behind and finding a job within the wine business. About three months later, this woman tracked me down at Belvedere Winery. She was so excited to tell me that she had found someone to replace me at the radio station, and did I know her, could I recommend her, etc.

    I was aghast, to say the least. When I told my new boss what the call was about, with this background above, my new boss said, “What a backhanded compliment.”

    Yes… it was.

    The point? You cannot measure in quantitative terms what any of this PR/marketing is doing. However, it’s doing it, and if you don’t think it is, stop doing it for a few months… Watch things begin to slide, and ask yourself if social media is worth it, again.

    I’ve been at marketing for 28 years. I know it works.

    One example… I just got an Email from an Oregon winemaker, who told me that he just bought a few bottles of Desmond’s Russian River Pinot that I recommended… This is one Email of many that I get on the back end of my blog, versus these readers commenting on the blog’s front end. I could have told you this up front and spared you my story, but I love this story for anyone who might even begin to think s/he might want to be a skeptic about PR/marketing efforts.

    It works… At least in my world it does… And I have hundreds of these stories… Don’t get me started, do even get me started ;^)

  21. Jo says:

    Weiguokong,

    You’ll be very successful, if you do. Nice to see your name pop up again!

  22. Jo says:

    1WineDude,

    So succinct and true.

    There is a saying in the marketing world that it takes nine impressions for anyone to even recognize the product in the advertisement for what it is, and with each attempt, there are also three impressions that pick up some nuance. That’s 9 X 3 = 27 real attempts. Attempts not made? No sale.

  23. I’m with you, Jo in that I feel strongly that quantitative measurement of social media is overemphasized. Social media’s beauty is in its ability to connect people in an authentic way and helps to keep wine brands top-of-mind via interactions with the people behind the winery. Something just doesn’t feel right when social media only becomes about numbers and measurement…that feels sterile and non-human to me.

    For example, I live in the Finger Lakes region of NY and one of the pleasures of my business is in getting to know those people who own and work within the wineries here. One of the best ways that I have found to do that is via Twitter, Facebook and somewhat through my blog. But I’m also a wine lover and drink wine daily, so I’m regularly purchasing wine.

    El Jefe, Although I see your point about not being able to correlate wine sales directly to social media, I have purchased wine at one winery over another due to “meeting” someone from the winery on Twitter or Facebook and then seeking them out at the winery in real life…eventually. Yes, it does take time to cultivate those relationships (consistency is key), but if I connect with someone from a winery online and they show an interest in others and keep whetting my appetite for their wine experience with photos, updates (both personal and wine-related) I remember that and when my group of girlfriends comes into town and want to go wine touring, guess who stands out in my mind and will receive a visit and our wine dollars?

    Cheers all!

  24. Jo says:

    Great points here, Melissa.

    Both El Jefe and I wanted examples (different ones), and you’ve aken care of both of us.

  25. 1WineDude says:

    Ok kids – It’s been a month since I started (somewhat) regularly posting updates to FB as well as twitter.

    And FB has indeed moved into the top 10 traffic sources for my blog (currently #8)…!

  26. Jo says:

    I’ve done the same with cross postings, and have had similar results, Joe. Very impressive on your end.

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  28. Jo Diaz says:

    Thanks, si2abu.

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