It has been a while. I have written plenty, and published none since Christmas.
But I think it is time I published and be damned. Some might not like what I have to say, but there is nothing new there.
A small incident of nearly dying (am fine now – promise) is a great way to restore clarity. And so I set my fingers to typing again, and hopefully should have some new bits and bobs sorted for you fairly quickly. And I shall be starting with some social media etiquette. Because some things bear repeating.
• Never link your accounts. If someone is following you on multiple platforms, they are receiving the same message multiple times, in succession. It is lazy, and infuriating. People will unfollow, and the business looks unprofessional.
• Post occasionally – not incessantly. Be interesting, but not begging for attention.
• Treat the people you cannot see as you would someone in the cellar door – if they ask a question, answer. These means having someone responsible for social media, with it linked to their email, so they can see an interaction, and answer relatively quickly. SocMed often occurs outside of business hours.
• Engage. Retweet/Like other brands. Promote events in the region. Be a little silly sometimes – eg: posts about needing a coffee, or about forgetting gloves on a freezing day, or something HUMAN. People want to know that they are interacting with a person, not just a brand.
• Be cheery – but not irritatingly so.
• NEVER get angry with people. This is a business. You behave politely, just in case. If you don’t like someone, unfollow/un-like them. If you REALLY don’t like them, block them. DO NOT ENGAGE. It only damages you.
• These are advertising media – which people see as a social landscape. No-one LIKES being advertised at, so treat it more as a conversation. Engage – don’t yell at the ether and expect to be liked. Ask questions. Interact.
Facebook/Insta/Twitter all have different uses. LinkedIn is a different entity, and as much as it likes to think it has a social media application, it really doesn’t. People use it to find out who works/worked where. And that is about it. Obviously Insta is more photo/video-based, but these can also be posted to FB and Twitter. So, what do you put where?
Insta – photo based. Post images of vineyards, vintage, wineries, winery dogs (always guaranteed likes). Post images of the line-up of wines – but only occasionally. Silly things, events, fun, new labels, food – all guaranteed likes. DO – always put a website link in your Instagram bio, and it is best to put a name. Again – the human element.
FB – Facebook can be a good way to get third party endorsements. LIKE US ON FB! Only a few ever do, but you can make liking the brand a way to go in the draw to win something – and then you will pop up in the feeds of their friends. All the potential in the world, but limited real-world effect. Brands almost outnumber people on FB, and they are now mostly an accepted evil. Less chance to engage here, but a bigger space. Insta is pics, Twitter has limited space, but you can post longer bits to FB AND add pics. Careful of length – no-one wants to be lectured.
Twitter – where the wine world mostly talks to itself… But, still interesting, and a number of really interested consumers are based there. They follow wine writers, and follow their recommendations. They engage more here than on FB and Insta – where you are more likely to get a tick, or a like, and they just move on. Twitter you can like or reply. More reply than just like. The crux is length – twitter is 140 characters per message only. You need to be brief, and engage. Reviews are often posted here, and restaurants/wine trade/reviewers pretty much ALL use it heavily. It is a great way to engage with existing customers, and make new ones. And due to length, it is brief. You need to be pithy, concise, and fun. Again – put a name to the account in the bio.
Social media is NOT advertising. At least, not in the accepted sense. If you DO persistently advertise on SocMed, you will lose followers. The occasional link to an event or a wine on the site is great, but balance that with chatter, fun pics, and even some self-deprecating humour. Engage your neighbours – the Clare, for example, is stronger as a region with more people advocating for it. Offer regional advice to people. Post about not just you as a producer, but also the local businesses – best coffee, new restaurants, best dog-walker. Congratulate people in the region on their “insert event here”, and they will engage with you. More people will see this. More people in the region. More potential people through your doors.
Never use social media as an incentive: follow us, get this! People do not like being bribed or manipulated into things. If they like you, they will follow you. If they don’t, they won’t. People who do not like you have no value – even if you bribe them TO like you. People who do of their own accord like/follow/whatever are basically ambassadors for your business. You do not need the former. You can’t live without the latter.
Essentially social media is all about an intangible cellar door. Engage as you would there, be human and interactive, and understand that you are presenting as a brand, but engaging as people. Talk to other businesses. Talk to people. And one day, they might rock up on your doorstep and buy a container of wine… (I am an optimistic soul!)
Have a clear sense of the identity behind posts before you start. Put a social media policy in place – no posting whilst pissy, no personal pics, careful of language etc.
Careful of what you ‘like’ and respond to – there are trolls and twerps all across social media. Stay away from politics, race, religion – unless there is already a company policy in place regarding this. If so, post accordingly. But even so – be careful. If unsure, do not interact. You can block people.
Don’t stress about people not responding. You don’t know what is going on in their world. Maybe, if you consistently get a lack of interest, you might need to change things up, but sitting and waiting for likes is pointless.
Hashtags – mean that people can search by, for example, #wine, and see the tweets referencing this. You can put as MANY hashtags as you like in a post (Insta/Twitter/FB) and people might find you because they have searched for #fiano. But limit your hashtags. Do you really want to read a post that has a couple of words and fourteen searchable tags in it? No. Nor does anyone else. They click to find a message or a picture or something with a point of interest. Just being a post with a squillion tags is of no interest to anyone much.
There are ways of having your accounts hacked. Change your passwords semi-regularly. I have a rotating group of three I use for everything, but switched every quarter or so, and all used for different accounts at different times.
OK – so which social medium is best for you and your business? Probably all of them to a certain extent, but we only have so many hours in the day, and most of us would prefer to spend them not staring at a screen.
So, think of the varying social media as orbits around your world.
Twitter – people you know, at least by reputation, and the people they know. Generally within the sphere of your working orbit. And mostly people who understand the game of wine to at least a certain extent. The nearest moon, if you will.
Facebook – the people you went to school/university/kindy with and their families. Potentially a goldmine if worked correctly, but best utilised to get interest, and then move into emails/direct sales contacts. A meteor – still there, but not as engaged to your orbit as it may have been once.
Instagram – a great big pretty pin-up board for all your pictures there for the world to see. But with a network of followers likely drawn from both sides represented by the TwitBook dichotomy. This is where people go to say “OOOH, PRETTY”, and not much else. But pictures engage on a level where words do not. And lord knows, if nothing else, vineyards are pretty. And those vineyard dogs are always endearing… A comet, possibly. A little random, but still in your galaxy.
Hmm. That ‘orbit’ bit did not quite have the clarity I expected it to, but you get where I was going.
Sure – there is Pinterest, and SnapChat, and probably a million more under development, but these are the key players at the moment. And if you are not here with your brand, and someone else is saying, “Sure, here is where you can buy in Mt Gravatt, and thanks for asking”, there lies a lost opportunity.
And yes. It takes time. And yes, you can pay an agency to do this for you, but this is your story, and your business. We would rather speak to you than a paid agency which has no real connection to your brand, or your identity.
There is nothing better than connecting with a consumer who wants to know more about you and your brand. Do you really want to pay an advertising agency intern to post meaningless “Look at me” style messages? Or do you want to build your business? If you do pay someone to manage this, make sure they understand your world. Make sure they understand the voice of your brand, and how to communicate with this voice. Make sure they have an up-to-date stockist list. Make sure they reply to replies.
Wine is about people. Engage. Interact. Develop.
(Ok, yes, ephemeral at times, and over the interwebs, but this is just a tool. Tools are to be used.)
A starting point. Go out there. Post something. Ask a question. Reply to someone. Engage.