(This is a guest blog post from our PR and Branding consultant, Melissa Dobson of Melissa Dobson PR & Marketing. Melissa blogs at http://familylovewine.wordpress.com/ )
You’ve been reading up and researching social media. You’re ready to get started and incorporate a couple of the platforms into your winery’s marketing and relationship building strategy. Now, who should be the face behind the voice that will represent your winery?
Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Think of your staff including owners, staff and their families. Is there someone or a few among them who are already passionate participants in social media for their own personal use? If so, do those people have a good understanding of the day-to-day, behind the scenes stuff that goes on at the winery? Are they personable, engaging and responsive to questions?
- Discuss the possibilities of social media engagement during a staff meeting. Ask for experiences and feedback from staff. Ask staffers to research and speak about some other winery examples who are already present there, what they’re doing, what you could do that’s different and representative of your winery’s core branding.
- Divide and conquer. If the owner and winemaker have a tight schedule (imagine that!), rotate who will post or update throughout the week even if it’s just posting a few photos with comments and photo descriptors when you’re pressed for time.
- If you decide to divide and conquer, create a posting schedule to keep on track and for consistency.
- Try to carve out time to dedicate to learning more about social media platforms and continually assess your program.
- Although a winery PR person, wine club manager or tasting room manager work as a good representative for a winery social media program, many consumers are clamoring to hear from the winemaker and owner directly. Bring them in as much as possible.
- Be sure that your winery social media “faces” are responsive to inquiries and feedback from consumers. This can be time consuming, but the trust and loyalty that this direct responsiveness brings is well worth the time.
- If you receive a negative comment about your business or your wine, take the time to address it and provide any additional insights or information and create a customer service opportunity to make things right or overcome the negative impression. A thoughtful response from the owner, winemaker or appropriate staff person can make a difference, if not with the comment writer than for those who read the comment and response in the future. I recommend only deleting negative comments that are vulgar or inappropriate.
- Don’t forget to promote other wineries, regions and collaborate with others in the industry. Jump into conversations about things you’re passionate about, provide resources if you have a recommendation or feedback. These types of interactions are essential to building trust and credibility. Show an interest in others, rather than only talking about yourself and your business.
It will take a little while for your winery’s social media faces to “find their voices”. Listening first by monitoring conversations that are already going on and following the practices of social media thought leaders in the industry on Twitter and Facebook are a good way to get started. Don't be afraid to ask for advice from those who are already participating in social media.
What have been the biggest challenges in getting started with social media for your winery? Do you have advice for newbies?