Well, I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel with my myriad of projects so I thought I’d post a little bit on a topic I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks. I guess I’ve noticed a subtle but disturbing trend
in the world of Wine 2.0. We are just starting to chip away at the social networking technology world as it
relates to wine (we’ve even got the cool moniker of Wine 2.0 to describe these tools) and it really does open up alot of exciting possibilities particularly if you’re a techie marketing person like me.
First, what do these sites do? Well, whether its Twitter or Pownce or Jaiku, Facebook or MySpace, most of these “social” sites basically help you to use online technology to find people with common interests and share ideas with them. When you verticalize that concept into, say, wine, that broad, general, somewhat useless “tell everyone what I’m doing all the time” actually becomes quite useful. I’ve decided to use Facebook as the epicenter for my wine contacts (that use online stuff – mostly blogger friends). Doing that I find that I get quick recommendations, find out about events, hear about people coming to town, all with that baseline of wine connecting me with these people. “Its social…demented and sad, but social”. Wine is a good topic to use these technologies for because its inherently social and so even before the Internet existed there was already a global conversation and community around wine. New technologies are just facilitating.
(side note: someone mentioned to me that a good way to help understand why these things are popular with kids is to imagine what you would’ve done if you could do all this stuff before you could drive a car – you could ‘keep in touch’ and interact without relying on your parents for a ride…I guess I could see that).
So the social nature of wine in meshing very well with new social technologies. The challenge that the wine marketer needs to meet is simple – how do I get tapped in and have my wine company join the global conversation? How do you spark a conversation between producer, consumer, and marketer/advertiser? How do you join your brand into the conversation in this online world? If social technologies like blogs and social networks are moving from broadcast (I print/televise and you watch/read) to conversation and interaction then marketing has to transform from “impressions” and “eyeballs” into conversation and interaction (I have a many thoughts on this area as a marketing professional). A marketing campaign is not as much about repeating my brand so many times that you’ll never forget it as it is about doing something that gets your brand accepted into the conversation.
This is where Wine 2.0 is starting to falter and lose some steam. I’m going to pick on Gary Vaynerchuk a little here but first, I will say some positive things about him. He’s a good one to use because he’s put himself up front for marketing his business in some brilliant ways and in other ways he somewhat falls short – really representing the faltering I am seeing in Wine 2.0 based marketing.
First, really quickly, the guy is very smart. He’s leveraged his
resources to get his mug on many popular sites, bought a social
networking site to facilitate his customers’ note taking and purchases,
done a wonderful PR job that enhances all bloggers out there, and, of
course, produces one of the pre-eminent video blogs on wine around.
All great things – innovative, smart use of technology well beyond
anything I’ve seen even early wine-tech companies (like Wine.com or
their competitors) do.
But truth be told, what he’s done is merely scratching the surface
of what could actually be accomplished in this connected, social wine
world that is evolving. He’s on Twitter, Facebook, Pownce, and other
networks. He’s done a pretty phenomenal job of building up “friends”
on those networks. So now what? Regular updates on what show is up
next, what wines he’s featuring on the show, etc… And by “regular” I
mean several a day. Updates coming from each and every network.
Accepting Gary as a “friend” on these networks is effectively signing
up to a micro-mailing list of adverts. Now, I’m not a wine-y baby and
just complaining – when it gets too excessive I can just turn them off,
no biggie. But I’m pointing it out because he’s on the vanguard of
Wine 2.0 marketing and so far these social networks are becoming (if
other retailers were to follow suit with Gary) another route for junk
mail, junk e-mail, a.k.a. SPAM.
My advice to others looking to leverage Web 2.0 for wine marketing –
don’t follow this route. These social networks make it easy to tune
you out if need be. They encourage interaction, participation, paths
to feedback, etc. etc. I think Gary will continue to be successful
because he’s making himself into a celebrity of sorts and branding
himself and he started out with a pretty significant fan base. So his
fans will appreciate the frequent updates on his episodes and antics so
that they don’t miss a single one. But marketing campaigns in this
social networking world is so much more than building a new form of
mailing list and spamming out messages. There’s only one Gary V, and
he’s done wonders for the wine blogging world with his video blog and
I’m sure his popularity has helped his retail business. Create
campaigns that engage publishers and consumers. Use methods that
create buzz. Not everyone has the personality to be a Gary V, so don’t
think you can just copy what he did and expect it to work. Gary is
what has made the Gary V phenomenon happen. But web 2.0 technologies,
when applied to marketing and verticalized to an inherently social
commodity like wine, can create larger than life images, create buzz,
spread brand virally, or any other myriad of options.
Using the technology to keep up with current customers is easy to do
and Gary’s model does that well. Capturing new customers is a largely
untapped area that Wine 2.0 is not fully being exploited to do.