As we continue to shift towards a digital society powered by search, e-commerce, mobile and social media, we cannot deny that everyday social media assumes a more prominent role as a preferred channel of communication. We also cannot deny that we live in the most competitive environment ever seen in the history of wine.
For wineries, social media is about intimacy, sharing the experience with the customer and reminding them of the reasons why they would want to come back for more.
However, it appears that the toughest challenges for wineries to become active users on social networks include measuring their effectiveness, linking social media efforts to ROI and understanding the exact contributions/differences that social media efforts have on business. Although we know social media is a powerful tool, the wine industry has been the slowest trade to embrace it.
Facebook: 1.06 billion monthly active users, 680 million mobile users, more than 50 million pages and 10 million apps
Twitter: 500 million total users, more than 200 million active users
LinkedIn: 200 million users
YouTube: 1 billion unique monthly users, 4 billion views per day
Google+: 343 million active users
Instagram: 100 million users, 4 billion photos
Pinterest: 48.7 million users
Tumblr: 170 million users, 100 million blogs
WordPress: 74 million blogs
Take Villa Maria Estate and Cloudy Bay for example. Both these vineyards are fairly effective users on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube which according to the statistics above are the most powerful networks to encompass. On top of this, Villa Maria Estate also boasts connections to Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn and utilises a customised page dedicated to blogging.
The best users understand that social media is a conversation, not a monologue and these wineries have adopted this strategy exceedingly well.
However, these hard to overcome challenges such as measuring the effectiveness and a fear of damaging the company reputation has prevented companies from taking the risk towards this digital era. Statistics show that only 12% of companies have hired staff dedicated to social media activities, with most companies delegating this role to external relations employees. 29% of companies do not have any employees solely dedicated to social media, while 8% of companies have six or more people involved in this area of the business.
Furthermore, despite the fact that most companies in the last year have increased the amount they spend on social media, their budgets are diminutive compared to investments in other channels, and a surprising 28% of companies are still not spending on social media marketing.
While it appears that both Villa Maria Estate and Cloudy Bay do not fall into this 12% of companies who recruit a social media controller, it is assumed that the wineries have dedicated a portion of their budget to their social media activities through their personalised and proficient YouTube videos and continuously up to date profiles. This is a valuable strategic move towards social media success as only a modest investment in social media is proving to be a success barrier and a significant issue.
So how can wineries measure the success of their social media marketing initiatives? Free media metric tools such as Social Mention and Google Analytics make this easy! These tools allow you to compare your wineries success rate against the available market, view the amount of referral traffic that your website receives and view the social sites that send you the most referral traffic and eventual conversion. Social media marketing and allocation of future marketing resources are being handed to companies on a plate!
Villa Maria Estate and Cloudy Bay could certainly benefit from these metrics if they are not measuring their effectiveness already. Although there is room for development, especially for Cloudy Bay to become involved in Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn and for Villa Maria Estate to be more active on Pinterest, these two prominent wineries have outperformed many other wineries in regards to their social media involvement. As a final recommendation, I do feel there is an opportunity for both these companies to engage with their customers by posting wine-pairing suggestions through social media for followers who check in at restaurants where that company’s wines are served. This could generate stimulating and enjoyable conversation and provide the company with valuable feedback.