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Social Networking -- online and off
Everywhere you go people are talking about it - and doing it: social networking. And although most of the talk is about online social networking, the phrase can applied to both to online and offline networking. Don't think social networking matters? Think again. Check out this graph by compete.com on the growth in the last 6 months:
Clearly, the social networking model has boomed. Think social networking is just for youth? The fastest-growing segment on Facebook, originally launched at Harvard for college students, now is people over age 35.
A white paper released this month by VinTank, looks at Social media and its use by wineries:
"Consumer embrace of social media literally turns the tables on marketers," said Tom Wark, publisher of the Fermentation daily wine blog and Partner in Wark Communications. "With millions of consumers, particularly those of the Millennial generation, now frequently using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace, brands are being built and defined as much by consumers and communities as they are by marketers and suppliers. The degree of change this represents can't be underestimated."
Some key findings of the white paper:
- According to Compete.com, the top 20 wine bloggers in aggregate represent a larger audience than the Wine Spectator online, and are growing at a faster rate. However, the wine blogosphere is highly fragmented and difficult for wineries to navigate.
- Wine social network memberships number in the hundreds of thousands, although it is near impossible to determine how much overlap exists across networks.
- The two top-rated wine social networks, CellarTracker and VinCellar, started as wine cellar management tools that over time have added social networking functionality. This deeper level of value has paid huge dividends in terms of customer loyalty.
- A key challenge for all wine social networks that have achieved any kind of scale is data quality. Duplicate and incorrect data affects all of these sites to varying degrees.
- Online advertising models for the wine industry have more challenges than other verticals due to outdated alcohol regulations.
The free white paper is available for download at http://www.vintank.com/VinTank_SocialMediaReport.pdf
We are also conducting our own survey on our industries' use of social media, with well over a 100 responses already, it can provide you with great -- and up to the minute -- information. Take the survey and immediately get the results.
Think of networking as being a personal branding exercise, whether it is your own services, the services of your company or business that you are promoting, or even yourself as you look for a new employment opportunity. And of course - all networking isn't online. The right approach would be to overlay both your online and offline worlds.So go out there, start promoting yourself and/or your business; show people why you're different and why they should do business with you.
And if you are in the wine country, of course the perfect opportunity for networking with others in the industry is this Thursday - at the "Industry Insiders" event at the Hess Collection. See details below.
I ran into my friend Paul Mabray at the Starbucks near Valargas last week and we had our usual spirited conversation about the reality of online wine. One of the points I like to make is most wineries are run by people who are not digital or social network oriented. If a winery is not willing to allocate the personnel resources including hiring someone who can explain why Gary V is such a phenom in 100 words or less to the senior management/owners, they need to commit to online strategically, slowly and with lots of help. When I ask Paul who is doing consumer direct really well (tasting room, wine club, online sales, events, web presence) he said "no one" and then thought about it and said St Supery is about the best. Who do you think is doing it well?
I do the marketing and advertising for Los Bagels Bakery and Café up in Humboldt County. I just wanted to let you know I really enjoy your Wine and Hospitality Ezine. It is always full of relevant, useful information. I especially enjoyed your last couple posts about social networking sights. Last fall, we found that a customer had started a Facebook page about our bakery(Los Bagels Aficionados). To our surprise she had over 600 members in her group. Last January I launched Los Bagels’ own Facebook page and we now have over 1600 fans. The insights from your survey were very helpful. Through updates to our fans, I’ve been able to increase our online sales pretty dramatically, Facebook is such a great tool! Next, I have to tackle twitter.
Thanks for your effort, since I know sometimes in cyberspace things can seem a bit one sided. If you are ever coming up to Arcata or Eureka, let me know and I’ll buy you lunch.
Los Bagels, Inc
1085 I Street, #101
Arcata, CA 95521
707-822-3483, ext 307
I love the use of compete.com's chart in your post. If more people would use compete.com (you can compare 3 sites for free and 5 by registering with them - again for free) more people would be able to answer John Stallcup's question, "Who's doing it well."
There are so many claims by various internet marketing, web optimization, and social networking gurus - and by using compete you can put the lie to many of them. Simply put the main URL of their site and then your site (or some other site for a comparison) and you'll find out who's doing it well from a traffic standpoint.
However, that said, look at authenticity, more than traffic. I like the comment, "no one is doing it well." That's so true now - because most people do online social networking and branding for all the wrong reasons.
At this point, look for authentic people like Catie, the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman - http://wildwallawallawinewoman.blogspot.com/
or Christy from a Manhattan wine store - http://www.franklywines.blogspot.com/
Look for people who say thank-you, discuss real issues and show their love for the product - not their love for online yada-yada. Gary V is more in love with social media than he is with wine (has even started his own internet marketing consultancy).
Wine lovers are authentic, which gives them a huge advantage in establishing the right kind of social media presence. They'll develop followers who love them and love the product - but don't love sitting in front of a computer.
Thanks for the kind mention of our report. Let me know if you have any other questions and we hope it helps more wineries succeed online. Social Media platforms will continue to grow as a primary communication and relationship vehicle in the future ESPECIALLY for wine. Here is a great article that people might like to read about predictions of the evolution of social media: http://www.destinationcrm.com/Articles/CRM-News/Daily-News/Social-Media-The-Five-Year-Forecast-53635.aspx
John, Thanks for the kind words and it is always great to see you at Starbucks and other places. St Supery is doing the best and there are a few others executing well (Twisted Oak, Coppola, Fosters, Icon, Murphy Goode). We hope to see more and more going into the future. Online is the most profitable and best channel for wineries beyond their tasting rooms.
Again thank you and let me know if anyone has some questions.
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