The last three weeks of my (Tyler) participation in the social media dialogue within the
wine industry has turned amusing. I greatly appreciate all the reweets, mentions, and links and am pleased to think that we might be contributing interesting content to the discussion. What amuses me and what should be instructive to other wineries is that the most attention we have received over the last several months is a result of our discussion about social media, not about our wines.
Hopefully this is not a testament to the quality of our wines! I don’t think it is. In fact I believe it corroborates a point made in the first post: “our best supporters who drive the majority of our sales are not the ones engaging with us through social media.” (Come on bloggers, show me the money!). As said then and believe now, that is no reason to refrain from participating in social media for there is a “social customer” out there and their presence is growing. But it is an instructive fact that the most attention we have received for a blog post has come from people whose primary goals are to promote the efficacy of social media.
It appears we struck a chord by saying “with all the devices, apps, and tools out there to help us with customers, it seems we tend to forget that in the end we are still dealing with human beings.” Opening a social media account doesn’t help you to better understand how to communicate with your customers; it just provides additional tools to participate with your customers. You still must listen and learn, you are still dealing with people! The folks encouraging producers to float down this stream of media understand this very well, even if they don’t always make it clear that they understand it very well.
One helpful piece written by Brian Solis summarizes social status at the end of 2011 and provides a helpful infographic on the social customer’s behavior. There are multiple facets to how someone learns about your wine, and engaging in a discussion about social media – not wine – may be one of those ways (perhaps as a part of the “influence loop”).
The recent attention toward us demonstrates an argument for two points. First, social networking and connection can be powerful and rapid, and it can quickly get your brand name out to many more people than you imagined. But second, that attention is not necessarily going to come from people who buy wine directly from you, nor from people who already buy wine directly from you. Both of these factors emphasize that engaging customers with social media is a long game, not a short game. It is one portion of the decision making cycle of current customers and potential customers.
We set sail with the Donelan Musings Blog to provide another tool to communicate with our family of customers…and hopefully to get more of you to participate in our community! We wanted to provide content that is very similar to what we might discuss and show individuals who visit the winery. However we would be lying to say that we didn’t also hope for a few collateral affects. First, ancillary public relations from social media savvy folks who might think we have a neat blog (dreaming?), or at least neat ideas about how to actually relate to human beings! Second, that we might become thought leaders because maybe someone, somewhere, might realize that we do things a little differently, think a little differently about wine, and are interesting enough to pursue. But again, maybe that was simply dreaming.
In other words, and in words that really go beyond my expertise, the blog, twitter, and facebook platforms allow us to participate in multiple parts of the decision making cycle. For those in consideration, evaluation, experience, loyalty, or bond phases of the “decision making cycle” we hoped to provide ways for them to connect with us. And while this may sound a lot like marketing ploy, we must remember that it is based on the way real people are behaving toward stuff they are buying. And our number one priority aside from making great wine is real people. Joe Donelan’s passion is wine and people. It was not some decision loop that encouraged us to strategically start the blog; it was a passion for the people we connect with on a daily basis. We had a desire to provide a platform for community, and we saw these tools as a way to help achieve that goal. The tools themselves don’t provide the community, which comes from your commitment and attitude, but they can provide the park for everyone to come and play in.