First was the website, and we figured out how to use it for eCommerce but the return is only there if it’s done right. ROI can be there, but the budget of a website has been largely taken from other marketing areas losing their grip, like print media. Nowadays, if you don’t do a website, you may lack sufficient outside-facing visibility and the traction that goes with it. Also if your competitor does it, you need to as well or be thought of as a bit backwards.
Social media is clearly the next ante. Many of you, wineries and consumers alike, have hopped onto the wagon. But which wagon? Or do we need a train? In this area, you need to ‘get it’ and figure out how to use it. The ‘dummy’ books are always a good place to start. But also understanding web site integration is key as you’ll see below when I discuss URL links a little further down.
There are many Social Media ‘engines‘, and I will give you my view of the larger ones:
Facebook. Clearly the bomb. You need it like nobody’s business. With half a billion users, make no mistake – these are your customers. From February 2010 to July 2010 alone, facebook went from 400 million users to 500 million users. With its uncanny ability to have friend networks and share pictures easily without the 140 texting character limitation of Twitter, it’s the home run.
Twitter. Another ‘have-to-have’. It’s a different bird. Estimates are 190 million consumers, though you are limited to 140 characters per ‘tweet’. Twitter has a slightly different niche usage, but it’s short and sweet. No novels here. Web site URL’s typically need to be shrunk as when they are SEO (Search Engine Optimized) on your web site so you can be found easily on Google, they are not twitter-friendly and consume most of your 140 characters.
Here’s an example of a SEO-friendly URL: http://www.winematch.com/profile_1194-2008-Pomar-Junction-Vineyard–Winery-Train-Wreck-Red-Blend.html Unfortunately, the URL by itself consumed over 100 of the 140 characters allowed by twitter, leaving you with not much to ‘chirp’ about beyond the link. Good news is that a link like this works well for SEO.
Here’s an example of a twitter-friendly URL. http://winematch.com/p/1194. This link goes to the same place, but only 27 characters were used, so you have a whopping 113 characters to let folks know what the link is about. Oh, Happy Day! But clearly understand a search engine won’t know this is a wine from Pomar Junction or that it’s called “Train Wreck Blend”, just that it’s winematch.com and has 1194 within. The long-tailed (longer URL in prior example) is necessary for search engines so they can find things on your site. In short, you need both. The URL-shortener bit.ly is a good and free URL shortener. At WineMatch, we made our own so we would generate a shorter link, but it would still relate to us.
HootSuite and Tumblr are tremendous tools to be able to manage both facebook and twitter from a kind of “control center” dashboard, but remember the “thank you for following me” is more appreciated when they come from twitter and facebook directly, probably because it requires more effort and is more personal. We have to ensure we are seen as personal with proper etiquette, yet need to use what tools are available to be able to manage as many-to-one relationships as humanly possible.
YouTube. This adds more content when performing demonstrations and communicating, but requires more time to produce and also needs to assume that consumers think this is the best use of their time. So it’s gotta be good and be ‘sticky’ to maintain a following. Personally, I don’t spend much time on YouTube as I can accomplish more in the same amount of time using other engines like twitter and facebook.
For my two cents, if you’re a winery start with Twitter and Facebook, but do it not just to sell more wine, but also do it as a strategic pre-emptive strike. There are two schools of thought here – proactive and reactive. If you do it proactively before you have to do it, you stand to benefit and gain marketshare. If you wait until everyone has it, you are placed in reactive mode, and though you will still incurr about the same cost of doing it, your benefit may be limited to hedging marketshare loss.
So as promised, here are my Top 10 Signs That You Need Social Media.
10. You take a flight on Alaska Airlines and the Internet is FREE, but only goes to Facebook (happened to us on our trip from Seattle back home to California – true story)
9. Your parents are on facebook
8. Your children are on facebook
7. Your facebook account lives longer than you
6. You’ve already loaded it on your Droid or iPhone
5. The Dalai Lama has 1.5 Million users and 400 tweets
4. The Federal goverment wants their information databases
3. Public figures self-destruct by their stupid use of Facebook and Twitter
2. Mister Ed has an iPad and is taunting you with it – what the hay?
1. WineMatch lets consumers login using Facebook and Twitter