Wine is social. Sure, you can drink it solo, but it’s best enjoyed with friends, food and conversation. Selling wine is social, too. Canny wine marketers know this in their bones. The job isn’t about moving a bottle of wine across a counter. That’s just the transaction. The job is about great service, gonzo enthusiasm and killer personality.
They approach a customer, ask the right questions, listen carefully, suggest wisely. If the customer goes away smiling and the wine is a hit, the customer will come back. And next time, bring friends.
If any industry is tailored for social media, it’s wine. The proof is in the data. According to VinTank, a social media software company for the wine business, 14 million people have mentioned wine online at some point, a number that grows by 450,000 people every month. And they’re talking a lot, having 1.5 million conversations about wine online—every single day.
The bulk of this chatter happens on mainstream social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, plus wine-centric apps like CellarTracker and Delectable. People post tasting notes, bottle shots, and ratings from 88 points to Yuck to Wow! They tag their friends, who share it too. Think of social media as the breeding ground for digital word of mouth.
Now, producers, retailers, restaurateurs and buyers have joined the conversation. Getting up to speed in social media means learning a new technology, but that’s not so different from learning a new point-of-sale system (and arguably a little easier). Happily, many wine pros find that success online requires the same kind of sensitivity and savoir-faire their jobs demand in real life.
“Customers are going to talk whether you’re listening or not,” says VinTank’s CEO, Paul Mabray. “You’d answer the phone if they called you. You’d answer an email. It’s fundamental customer service to answer a tweet, or a post on your Wall. And you don’t answer in stupid promotional ways. You just say, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’”
But social media success does require a slight shift in thinking. Traditional marketing was about push. A marketer publishes a notice about a holiday sale, or the arrival of a scarce Bordeaux, hoping customers will come pouring in.
Social media is about pull. Instead of broadcast-and-pray, a marketer goes where the customers are, connects with them, and engages with them on their terms.
Read on …