Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Wine Industry and the Digital Grapevine

Perhaps it was all the libations we enjoyed over the holiday stretch, or maybe even this beautiful 55-degree weather we’re experiencing in New England that’s made us take a quick mental vacation, but either way, we’ve got wine on the mind (Is it Friday yet?). This was the segue to our discussion of Rhode Island’s bountiful variety of vineyards… but why is it that we so rarely hear from them during the winter months? So we got to drinking, thinking… “How has the wine industry approached the realm of social media?”

For many wine enthusiasts, there is no greater pleasure than enjoying a vintage selection that has been aged to perfection. However, unlike the wine itself, there is no faux pas greater than a winery having a digital presence lay untouched over a long period of time.

If your internet curiosity has brought you this far, you need no explanation as to the potential power and reach of social media. A simple “if we build it, they will come” attitude toward your online presence does not a successful business make in the world of wine or any lifestyle category. A strategic balance of presence, participation & promotion has proven to be a successful business model for many wineries and vineyards, who, despite turbulent economic conditions, have remained on top of the industry.

Nationally, Duckhorn Vineyards and J. Lohr are a couple great examples, but you need not be a major brand to successfully utilize social media and digital marketing. Among our local wineries here in New England, we love Greenvale Vineyards. This small, family-owned winery in Rhode Island has a vibrant blog and engaging social media presence.

The true benefit of social media is its potential to create awareness of your brand, and do so in a way that enables prospective or existing consumers to engage and interact with it. Social media is about being social and—from wine enthusiasts sharing great finds to novices seeking out advice—the subject of wine is inherently social. We’ve seen this first-hand in working with French Wine Explorers—a boutique travel firm that specializes in luxury wine tours to France. Check out their Facebook page and blog to witness how the company uses social media to engage potential customers not only on their specific tours, but on the subject of wine in general.

A recent survey by showed that the majority (59%) of visitors to wineries relied on word of mouth in planning their itinerary.

“Tapping into the “word of mouth” aspect of social media can be beneficial.”
- wine business

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow savvy wine industry businesses to not only promote their wines, vineyards or tours, but also to illustrate and share their expertise, thereby tapping into and forming relationships with a new, more extensive world of potential clients.

How do you interact with your current and potential? If you knew then what you know now, how would you restructure your digital presence?

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