Wine blogger, importer and marketeer, Mike Turner, wants to bring the wine trade ‘kicking and screaming’ into the era of social media. Wine has been too slow out of the blocks, he believes, and is missing the many opportunities that Twitter and Instagram offer winemakers and distributors.
What are a Tweet Up and Twitter Take Over? And what have been the lessons learned from doing them with Villa Maria and Bordeaux Wines?
Sitting there for 12 hour days at my desk at my old office led me believe that I had very little to say that anyone would care to hear which, looking back, was probably true.
The more I use it now however, the more I realise that it’s an incredibly powerful way for anybody to interact one-to-one with punters of whatever they’re making.
And the wine world is slowly waking up to that fact, as the next wave of wine writers, bloggers, and geeks take to the world wide web.
Slowly slowly catchy monkey
There are industries out there that will be chuckling at the wine world’s tardiness into all this. The world of fashion and design, for example, embraced social media from the get go.
The likes of Gucci and Prada have been all over it, seeing it for what it is from a business perspective – branding with the reach that PR agencies of the past would be having wet dreams over.
Where do you even start?
Fair question, I’ll let you have that! From my own experience, Twitter and Instagram have been the easiest to get my head around. Facebook keep wanting money off you, and Snapchat is something that your kids are keeping a close secret.
So start with the top two and find a way to incorporate it into your events.
It’s not enough just to take a few snaps and send out a press release anymore. By putting a bit of pressure on yourselves and your event guests up front to get tweeting and instagramming all evening/ afternoon you’ll be turning the little room you’re sat in into something so much more.
What’s a Tweet Up?
I recently did an event for Villa Maria, the New Zealand wine family. What we ended up doing was a really simple idea that is happening a lot these days.
A few of us sat in room together and cracked open the bottles of Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir that Villa Maria was hoping to push. Every 15 minutes or so from there, we wrote a tweet about what we were up to, what we were tasting, and answering any questions that came our way.
The objective is to own a little piece of the internet for a couple of hours and get as many people talking about these wines as possible.
Punters and winemakers
There was a lovely touch that was added, especially from a wine geek’s point of view. Nick Picone, head winemaker at Villa Maria, was able to drag himself out of bed at daft-o’clock in the morning and join us online.
The 10 of us in the room, and the countless more that were following the chat online, were able to tweet over questions to him and have (near as damn it) real time responses.
For me, as lovely as PR and marketing teams are, there really isn’t anything as interesting as talking to winemakers. Being able to put Nick directly in touch with the punters, without having to drag him away from his vines for too long, was a big plus.
Twitter Take Over
I followed that up a couple of weeks later with a Q&A on Twitter on behalf of the Bordeaux Wines UK team.
I’m not even remotely professing to be an expert in Bordeaux wines, but I work with them a lot so maybe know one or two that others might not, and that’s what the CIVB are trying to push these days.
So I did another twist on the Tweet Up.
This time I took over @BordeauxWinesUK for two hours and people tweeted in a few “what Bordeaux wines would you pair with…?” kind of questions.
So you’ve got direct B2C Q&As going on with people in places like Southampton, Glasgow, and Belfast all at the same time.
Everything seemed to go pretty well with both events, but there’s always room for improvement. There has to be, right?
First up, for the Tweet Up, I think the practicalities of stopping talking to each other around the table in order to give ourselves a chance to type out a tweet was a bit weird.
You do feel genuinely rude when you’re sat at a dinner table effectively ignoring every real person in the room to talk to the internet instead.
The other issue was the play-off between the old and the new style of marketing these events. If people tweet corporate answers, then they damn well sound like a corporate answer. For someone like Villa Maria, it does nothing to dispel the myth that this well run and prize-winning family company isn’t just another big brand wine company, which they’re definitely not.
But then are you opening up a potential can of worms allowing people to speak their minds and go off message online? I can see the conflict.
And finally the secret behind a good Twitter Take Over, as with comedy, is timing!
Was 1pm-3pm on a Thursday afternoon the right time to catch everyone online? It’s not that easy to pick a time, so more and more pre-event advertising is required than usual. Although, to tell you the truth, that’s not a bad way to perfect your social media game before the big event.
Swings and roundabouts.
Overall great experience
These were enjoyable events to be part of and to organise.
It’s a complete truism, but every day working them out was a school day for me, and dragging the wine world kicking and screaming onto social media and engaging directly with the consumers is something I’ll tirelessly pursue.
Get stuck in boys and girls.