Abridged Social Media Plan for Wine 2.0

Any successful social media strategist has to develop a social media plan for the brand he / she is supporting. Although this plan should be more in-depth, here’s my very abridged version that is appropriate for a blogpost length.

There are three major parts to any social media interaction. Listen, engage, empathize and respond. Below is a set of tools and techniques to help just about any wine brand (winery, retail store, bistro, restaurant, etc) get started in social media. To get the rest… Well, you will just have to hire me. ūüôā

Listen:

Why it’s important: you need to know 1) what’s going on in the industry, 2) what your competitors are up to, 3) what your customers are saying and 4) what your non-customers are saying.

Tools you should be using:

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¬†Google Alerts. Google Alerts have been around for a while, so I won’t spend a lot of time on them – basically it’s a service that emails you when a ¬†specified keyword / phrase is mentioned basically anywhere on the Internet.¬†

tblogonewTweet Beep is like Google Alerts for Twitter – have it email you each time a specified keyword / phrase is mentioned on Twitter. To stay sane and organized, filter it into separate folders in your email. Murphy Goode may want to set up keywords “Murphy Goode”, “wine”, “E. & J. Gallo”, “J”, etc.

favicon-12¬†¬†Netvibes / Google Reader: set up RSS feeds from respected / thought leading blogs for the wine industry that mesh with the brand, strategy, social media approach, etc. For someone on the forefront of the “Wine 2.0” movement, I think WineLibrary.tv is a good fit. It has a no-fuss, yet fun and educational approach to wine, using social media tools to bring wine into every home. Share great content with your readers and followers, as well as contribute comments to relevant blogposts. The more you get out there and participate, the more awareness you will raise.

In addition to sharing great external content with your followers and readers, blogger and external community outreach is extremely important. Interacting with the wine community is important to spread digital word of mouth for your brand among existing wine drinkers. But what if you are trying to get new users into the category? I think for wine, this approach is very important, as illustrated in my marketing study here. These people aren’t drinking wine and are definitely not hanging out on wine blogs. In this case, it’s important to establish presence on sites and communities that appeal to the demographic when they are involved in a certain pattern of decision making (in this case, going on a date). Sites like Maxim.com, ESPN.com, gaming sites, etc.

yahoopipesYou can also use Yahoo! Pipes to help you in blog discovery. I have built a pipe to help you find each blog that has the keyword mentioned in it. You can feed it via RSS into Netvibes, Google Reader, other RSS readers, or embed it into your site.

 

Empathize:

Part of the reason to listen is to understand the trends in the industry, and do competitive intelligence. The second part is to measure sentiment towards your own brand. You need to know exactly what your consumers are saying about you. If an experience was negative, get in touch with them immediately to understand why and see how you can rectify. Excellent customer service is synonymous with brand building these days, considering how fast word-of-mouth spreads. Please check out my post on customer service, as well as Gary Vaynerchuck’s keynote.¬†Talk to happy consumers too. The idea is to turn non-believers into believers, and believers into brand ambassadors. If you can have customers selling your product to others… Why not?

Create engaging and relevant content: wine

You need to become an authority figure and a thought leader; otherwise no one will be taking you seriously. You have to work for it, and it won’t happen overnight. Social media engagement is powerful, but it’s not magic. To develop your authority, you must produce content that is right for your brand and your audience. If your brand, for example, is all about laid-back wine appreciation, having fun, family, friends, all original content has to reflect this brand. Content should include text, video and photo.

Tools you should be using:

zemanta-logoMake sure you install the proper SEO and sharing plugins for your blog; WordPress has a rich ecosystem of plugins. An example of a cool plugin is Zemanta – it automatically adds content and links so possibly related blogs (and in turn suggests your blog to other blogs’ readers). It also makes your post easy to reblog, with just one click. Disqus is a superb commenting platform that I highly recommend, as it doesn’t force the commenter to create a separate login, and drives comment contribution, due to comment portability across all Disqus-enabled blogs.¬†

youtube good 3YouTube has become the de-facto video publishing platform. It garners much higher traffic than all the other video sites, allows you to subscribe to channels, as well as for others to subscribe to yours, and embeds easily into WordPress, Tumblr and other blogging and social tools. If you want to share any other HD work, you should use Vimeo instead as it looks higher quality, and the interface is a little nicer. Make sure to tag the videos with relevant tags to optimize SEO. Subscribe to wine and regional (Napa, Sonoma, etc) related channels that you and your readers would be interested in. Like with any social network, interact by favoriting, subscribing, commenting and friending.

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Flickr is the de-facto photo service. You can upload photos via your computer (there are great upload tools that make it easy for large sets – iPhoto has a direct feed into Flickr, for example. You can also upload to Flickr from mobile via m.flickr.com. Share photos on Twitter with flic.kr, Twitpic or YFrog. Flickr feeds directly into Facebook, WordPress and other platforms. Make sure to tag correctly for SEO and ease of navigation via your profile. You should also organize images into sets, i.e. “Wine Tasting event 9.15.09”, “Lessons in winemaking”, “Wine bloggers conference”, etc.

pixelpipeMedia distribution services like Pixelpipe will save you a ton of time by feeding your social networks, blogs, photo and video sites (this way you only need to upload media to Pixelpipe). This tool will be essential for you to optimize social media tasks, saving time and therefore money. You can even feed your photos (and soon videos) via the iPhone when on the go.

Engage, share and interact:

So what do you do with the conversations that you are listening to and the fresh content you are creating? That’s when you take the word to the social networks. I am only going to get into a few most important ones here.

Tools you should be using:

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Twitter is fantastic for immediate real-time interactions that can occur between several users at once. It is not a walled garden, and unlike on Facebook, you can engage with anyone you find in the “listening” step, regardless of a follow relationships. I have talked about Twitter enough on this blog, so I won’t repeat myself. The one thing I will stress is that it’s important to have a mixture broadcast messages, @ replies and retweets (RTs)¬†in your stream. You don’t want to come across as a “30 second spot”; you want to interact, while still providing value and original content. Also, when you find something valuable, don’t be afraid to retweet.

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Facebook: You can feed selective tweets into Facebook via “selective Twitter”: a Facebook app that feeds tweets into Facebook if they have a ¬†#fb at the end of a tweet. If you tweet a lot (which the Lifestyle Correspondent would probably do), you should respect your FB friends and not assault them with 50 daily updates. Oooops, I am personally guilty of that ūüôā You can also feed your Facebook account and fan page with Networked Blogs (to add your¬†blog content to FB), Friendfeed and other applications. Other external applications like Mashable and Eventbrite allow you to publish your stories to Twitter and Facebook, and you should use them as needed. If you are attending or hosting a wine event, for example, you should publish that you are attending via Eventbrite, for an opportunity to connect in-person with your fans (read my article on why it’s important to connect in real life).

tumblrTumblr: if Twitter and WordPress had a baby, it would be Tumblr. Tumblelogs are short blogposts that are friendlier to multiple media support, easier to update on the go (via email, SMS, IM and RSS from your other blogs). This is going to be key for the Lifestyle Correspondent. Tumblr is social in that you can follow and be followed. Tumblr is appropriate for short, media-heavy posts, but it’s not the right platform for a long text-heavy blog post like this one.

stumble Delicious and StumbleUpon are social bookmarking sites that you can use not only for discovery of content around a particular wine-related topic, but you can also to bookmark your own content, eventually driving traffic to your destination. You can share your bookmarks with your network and publish them to Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.

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¬†Friendfeed is a lifestreaming service that allows you to aggregate all of your social networking content and activity into one place (and consume friends’ activities from one place). Like any other social and blogging platform, you can participate in discussions, create discussions and float up to the “Best of the Day” section if you get enough traction. Reading this section just once a day helps you surface any big events, as curated by your friends: what your friends created, commented on and favorited. You can also feed Friendfeed into Facebook. Just like with Twitter and Facebook, you can separate contacts into groups, in an attempt to better manage the “social media firehose”.¬†

P.S. With whatever you do, remember that social media is simply an extension of your offline brand. Make sure everything is consistent in voice, branding, personality. Use the same color schemes, easily recognizable logos and trade dress.

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 11:20 am  Leave a Comment  

A Very Bad Date – Episode #4

Here’s the final installment of the “Very Bad Date” miniseries. Have you ever seen a guy so annoying that the woman was tempted to take desperate action… like a restraining order! Please share some humor with us!

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 11:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Get out there and meet people

Social technologies are awesome, especially the open ones. When I say open vs. closed, I mean Twitter vs. Facebook. On Twitter, you don’t have to mutually opt-in to a relationship, and frankly neither person has to follow the other one, in order to connect and share ideas around a common Me and Brian Simpson at the Roger Smith Hotelinterest, concept, product, or event. On Twitter, anyone can listen, participate, add and derive value. On Facebook, it’s a little tougher, because you can only have that exchange if both people are connected as friends. As awesome as all of this open participation and communication is, it is no replacement for in-person contact. ¬†Tools like Twitter and BritghtKite allow you to connect with people at the same location / event as you, so you can meet them in person. Countless times, I would be twittering from a conference, and interacting with someone who is at that conference, only to have that person come up to me and say “You are The Maria, right?” (this is why it pays to have an avatar that actually looks like you, and to have a short and memorable handle). In short, social technologies should ultimately help you meet people IRL (in real life), not lock you up in a room with online friends and no IRL contacts.

Moreover, people connected on Twitter are always organizing “tweetups” to meet together and converse over some food and drink. The benefit to knowing someone on the Internet first, and meeting them IRL later, is that it can lead to a more fruitful conversation and a stronger connection, because you already know some factual information about each other. However, even though you know about each other, doesn’t mean you know each other. There are obviously some intangibles that are only experienced in person – perhaps a little bit of chemistry, ability to observe body language. By ¬†the same token, social technologies allow to strengthen existing weak ties. If I only know someone tangentially, but enough to know that I want to be connected on Facebook and Twitter, everyday exposure to that person’s lifestream, thoughts and analyses, will strengthen our connection, even though we may see each other once a year.

I think in our pursuit of technologies, we have come full-circle. Prior to Web 1.0, we were social IRL – we called each other on the phone and hung out. Then with online chatrooms, IM and email, we retrieved to our separate corners. Now, with tools like Twitter and its surrounding ecosystem, we are using the social web to drive us closer together IRL. Brands and venues that understand that, will ultimately win. For example, the Roger Smith Hotel, the social-media-friendly hotel in NYC (where my Murphy Goode video was shot) understands this and has pioneered Twitter-friendly content, discounts and events. Many conferences, networking breakfasts and post-conference events are held there. Folks can even get discounts on rooms by following @RSHotel and discounts on food and drink by tweeting pictures of food (check with them first for current discounts, of course). These guys are (at least local) pioneers in the space and have become a de-facto watering hole for the NYC (and out of town) “Twitterati”.

Published in: on June 24, 2009 at 1:12 pm  Comments (4)  

A Very Bad Date Saga Continues

We are still having fun with our “A Very Bad Date” mini series. Enjoy episode #3: “Have you seen this guy?” Girls, I know you have seen this sleazebag in a bar / club:¬†

Published in: on June 20, 2009 at 4:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

"Very Bad Date" becomes a mini-series

We had so much fun making the “Very Bad Date” video that we decided to make it into a mini-series and shoot it during networking events during the course of the 140 Characters Conference. Here Bif and Maria run into each other after their “Very Bad Date”. Bif is eating pizza the whole time! It is so rude to talk with your mouth full. Definitely not classy!

We hope you enjoy our silly mini-series. Amidst all the serious blogposts, we wanted to remember that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Enjoy!

Published in: on June 18, 2009 at 11:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gary Vaynerchuk: "Twitter has allowed me to scale my caring"

I was lucky enough to be able to listen to the inspiring keynote by GaryVee of Wine Library TV at the 140 Characters Conference today. This speech was a bit different from Gary’s usual high-energy #crushit campaign. ¬†Just as passionate and high-energy as usual, Gary changed direction a little and talked about caring and engaging in conversation with those who are talking about you or your product. As a brand strategist, I am amazed how brands don’t use the power of Twitter to find, interact with and care about people who are talking about them.

More priceless advice from Gary: we need to stop our obsession with the number of followers we have. I agree: it’s the quality that matters, not the quantity. Spammers can grow the number of followers with an astronomic speed via auto-follows. But does anyone care what they have to say? Will anyone retweet their message? It’s a resounding no, because they have zero social capital. If you care, you will eventually grow your social capital and your Whuffie.

Gary says it best himself, so check it out here! (And now that Gary has baby Misha, he has promised to eliminate the F word ¬†– well, not quite eliminate, he only said it once ūüôā

Published in: on June 17, 2009 at 4:22 pm  Comments (2)  

Wine is Romantic

 

Maria and Greg with Wine Glass

¬†I remember my first time in Sonoma. I had just started dating my boyfriend, a dizzyingy smart ¬†social applications entrepreneur known as Gregarious on Twitter.¬†In an incredibly romantic ¬† move, he flew me out to San Francisco, where he spends at least half his time. The trip ¬†included a weekend trip to Sonoma to celebrate a friend’s birthday. And that is how he won ¬†over my heart. I wanted to create this post to pay tribute to Sonoma, because no wine blog is ¬†complete without a telling a story of the surrounding culture. ¬†

 

 

 

mariagregwine2largeI think that anyone who is involved in social media strategy / community management for “Wine 2.0”, in addition to being a killer social media strategist, passionate about wine, will have to also be a passionate about its local region and its culture. Anyone who has been to a winery and experienced it properly, will forever remember it. Sonoma, for example, struck me as a gorgeous and extremely romantic place with a very distinct culture. The culture is rustic, laid back, romantic, and obviously very much a wine culture. The romance of the wine, grapes, sun-drenched lush greenery, couples in love, friends chatting and laughing over a bottle of wine… Ah, just thinking back about my time there makes me feel like I am still there and makes me miss it ever more. ¬†

 

For another incredibly romantic story, please check out the story of Rick Bakass proposal, published on the blog of Frank Gutierrez.

See you all at a winery real soon!

Maria and Friends in Sonoma

Published in: on June 16, 2009 at 6:53 pm  Comments (1)  

Holistic Marketing – Don’t Tweet in a Vacuum

I have been studying marketing my whole life, having obtained a BS in Commerce from the McIntire School of Commerce at UVa and an MBA with a marketing focus from Robert H. Smith School of Business (you can view my LinkedIn profile here). That means very little, but what’s important is that I have a vast understanding of the marketing mix, and how it fits into operations of the company. On this blog, I have started and will continue discussing issues pertaining not only to social media in wine, but also how social media efforts will fit into the overall marketing approach. Check out my posts on distribution and targeting and messaging.¬†

Published in: on June 16, 2009 at 3:18 pm  Comments (2)  

A Wine Consumer Target

As social media folks, we are all very focused on twittering, blogging and social media. However, it is important to keep in mind that social media is a part of the marketing mix, aimed at enhancing strategic efforts and reaching a desired consumer demographic. As a career business and marketing person, I am always analyzing businesses and the success of their marketing efforts. As I got involved in “Wine 2.0” through working on the “A Really Goode Jo” project, I asked myself who the ideal target demographic is for a winery.

Every company wants to establish a life-long relationship with a customer, to ensure that it can derive the most lifetime value out of each customer, after having spent money to get this person to buy for the first time. The faster you can make your consumer a loyalist and the longer you can keep him / her engaged with the brand, the higher the lifetime value.¬†An adult beverage company, thus, wants to convert at an age as close to 21 as possible. Let’s examine the drinking habits of kids around that age. After having gone through college, they are used to drinking cheap beer and taking shots of Jager. Wine is not part of fraternity parties usually, and most of these kids feel intimidated by wine after they graduate from college and move on to their first job and first “adult” apartment. At that point, the consumer, especially male, is not thinking of wine as a beverage of choice. To get the most market share and the most customer lifetime value, a wine brand should find a way to attract this newly-out-of-college demographic, with a special sub-segment of young men.

I have put together this mock commercial to demonstrate what an ideal advertising concept would look like (in this case, for Murphy Goode). At that age, a young man is interested in having a date with a young lady turn out well. Because young ladies have a stronger connection to wine at that age, she is more likely to drink wine on a date, and the young man is interested in impressing her with ordering a wine that will please both her and him. This is the perfect positioning for Murphy Goode: the wine that guarantees a date that is as smooth as the wine. 

Please enjoy the video and leave comments!

P.S. This post is all about messaging (or “Promotions” in the 4 Ps of Marketing). I dealt with Placement in a previous post. As far as product and price, I think Murphy Goode is well-positioned to appeal to this demographic, as the wines maintain an extremely high quality-to-price ratio, and are an “affordable luxury” suitable to a recent grad’s pocketbook.¬†As far as media through which to reach this hard-to-reach demographic the online space is definitely the first place I would reach for.

Published in: on June 15, 2009 at 4:11 pm  Comments (8)  

What comes first: promotion or distribution? The 4 Ps of goode marketing

Today I finally found a bottle of Murphy Goode wine in NYC, on my 7th attempt. I went to three stores in New Jersey and three in NYC. Partially it was my own fault because I didn’t use the store locator (on Murphy Goode site) for the first four stores; I just figured that if it’s a pretty major store, it would have a good selection.

The last two didn’t have the MG wine, even though they were listed in the official store locator. Curiously, one of them had a wooden MG display unit, but no wine. I asked the store owner why they didn’t have it, and he said it was a space issue. I asked if demand was too low, and he said that if he had it, people would probably buy it, because it’s pretty goode (pun added by me, not the store owner). ūüôā¬†

I see two reinforcing issues here: poor presence at retail level and absence of consumer pull (consumer not asking for it by name). Poor distribution could be caused by several factors, such as: wine distributor politics (which I don’t know much about – but hope to learn – right now, I just know it’s a 3-tier system) and lack of field sales focus on the East Coast market (which can probably be attributed to distribution politics as well). Since the wine is not in the store, and most consumers haven’t been exposed to MG’s messaging in NYC, consumers lack the awareness to ask for it by name. In turn, because consumers aren’t asking for it, and sales don’t justify carrying the item, the stores just don’t carry it.

Since the A Really Goode Job contest started, awareness of Murphy Goode has shot up astronomically, and hopefully it’s just the beginning of growing the nationwide recognition of this brand. The Lifestyle Correspondent will need to continue building upon this momentum, to keep generating buzz and demand. As more and more consumers will ask for it by name and buy it, more and more stores will carry it, in turn reinforcing demand, and driving sales.

So what comes first: distribution or promotion? I think they have to be carefully orchestrated to work in synch with each other. After all, distribution and promotion are two of the 4 P’s of Marketing.

Published in: on June 13, 2009 at 4:32 pm  Comments (6)