Something I’ve been meaning to write for a LONG TIME, a few Social Media tips to WINERIES and specifically TASTING ROOMS from the perspective of somebody who is “on their phone all the damn time”, potentially influencing your brand and selling your wine. Yes, occasionally a topic will bug me long enough, I will write about something other than what’s under the cork. It won’t happen very often, I PROMISE!!!
SOCIAL MEDIA MEMO TO WINERIES: I don’t care if your tasting room staff is social media ignorant–or merely uncaring–this is the 21st century and you need to make your TR’s social-media-friendly. Whether you have, subscribe to, or even are aware of Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter or Facebook, People are going to come in using such apps and it is FREE ADVERTISING for you. I know you are all used to boomers coming in and joining the club and sitting on the patio and visiting twice a year for pick-up parties and never telling anybody about it, but those days are numbered, your demo is getting younger, and people are TIED to social media. There’s a few simple things you can do to make your main line of public interface seamlessly social-media-ready.
GET YOUR BRAND ON SOCIAL MEDIA. First and foremost. I still run into wineries who do not have an IG account–and occasionally even FB. These are the 2 you literally can NOT survive without. Even if you post irregularly, get an account, have a www THAT WORKS (I can’t believe I still have to add that part) clearly in the profile. TW and linkd-IN… sure, if you want–it won’t hurt–they are niche markets which a LOT of people follow and read, but IG and FB are an absolute MINIMUM.
MAKE YOUR BRAND EASY TO FIND. Multiple labels? Make an account for EACH LABEL. Simplify your addresses for tagging. Confused? If your wine bottle says SUNNY HARVEST VINEYARDS MERLOT and it is made by Golden Vista Cellars, don’t have your Instagram be @G_V_Cellar_44893. You follow me? People don’t actually WANT to *be on their phones*–they are wine-tasting, after all–and if it takes more than 2 seconds to find your tag, you have lost.
HAVE INTERNET. As is the nature of this business, wineries tend to be out a bit, sometimes far into the boondocks. If you have EVER heard even ONE person complain about service from ANY carrier, get WIFI. If you do not have at LEAST 3 bars of Verizon, get WIFI. I can not stress this enough. You are leaving fast-moving and fragile social media situations–AND MONEY–laying on the table by crippling peoples’ ability to share. Stories start stacking up or posting out of order, tags are sluggish, geo-tags non-existent, phones get warm, batteries go dead.
MAKE YOUR WIFI EASY. Don’t make people come and ask for a password. Only the stalwarts will. Don’t make people feel guilty for *freeloading* WIFI. Trust me, no one is going to come buy a $2 coffee and sit on their laptop studying their community college classes for three hours. Post prominently in the TR the WIFI, the password if need be and make both SIMPLE. Better yet, use one of the fences which require an email addy to hook up. Do NOT use this email address synchronously as a newsletter sign-up, blog-sharing portal, or club announcements. But I see no harm in using this email list once a year–maybe twice–for a simple little *Hey what’s up Valued Visitor* note. How much has this cost you so far?
HAVE SOMEBODY DO SOCIAL MEDIA. Make a few posts, create a presence, add some hashtags, TAKE GOOD PHOTOS, ask one of the younger team members for help, let them make a post, create a bonus for achieving LIKE or FOLLOWER goals. I’m not saying you have to post every day or be a junkie about it or even hire a social media 3rd party, but CREATE SOME CONTENT, however simple and genuine.
MAKE YOUR BRAND AVAILABLE FOR POSTING. Leave the bottles on the counter. Leave some corks laying around. Make your label something which can be easily included in posts. Every time your logo appears in the internet it is FREE MONEY. Eliminate or modify the policy of keeping bottles on a back bar into a scenario that works for everyone. LET PEOPLE TAKE PICTURES OF YOUR BOTTLES.
UNDERSTAND SOCIAL MEDIA. Make sure everyone in the TR understands HOW SOCIAL MEDIA WORKS. Especially if they are older. Explain how STORIES work, how fake SNAPS will appear, how awkward lining up and framing the perfect vineyard, glass-sipping, or bottle-shot usually is and if people are rushed, scorned, or otherwise made to feel awkward while creating these FREE ADVERTISING SHOTS OF YOUR BRAND, they are going to take bad pix or skip the process altogether. Make sure they understand not everything is spontaneous–and can even feel rehearsed, manufactured, forced and COMPLETELY STAGED–and somm-cradles, flat-lies, and slow-pours are popular, engaging, and inspiring. Emphasize NO ONE is to be made even slightly uncomfortable while posting, no matter how narcissistic or vapid it looks or feels.
ADVERTISE YOUR SM. Put it out there. Make sure all your buttons are prominent on the website and advertising material. Post it creatively in the TR, on the counter, on the bathroom mirrors, on the patio. Remind people, “Hey, we should post this!” Don’t ever let anyone get in their cars and drive away and go, “OMG we didn’t take any pix or post!”
RESPOND TO SOCIAL MEDIA. If someone asks a question on FB, ANSWER IT. PROMPTLY. Reply to every IG comment–no matter how innocuous. Follow your neighbors and competition. Stalk your competition’s following. Share followers’ posts. Be available.
SYNCHRONIZE ALL YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA. Don’t have more than one FB page. Don’t have a *location* page and a *business* page. Make sure your check-ins are easy to find and make sense and are the correct public interface location. Corporate office in San Jose and TR in Paso? Winery in Lompoc, TR in Solvang? See what I mean? Clean up your GEO-TAGS. Populate your geo-tags. Discipline any employee who uses your geo-tag on an offensive, off-color, potentially triggering, or disparaging post. Watch your geo-tags. I can tell more about a brand on IG in 10 seconds looking at their geo-tags than all their feeds and content combined.
DON’T CREATE MULTIPLE EVENTS. This is strictly FB, and we all know how easy FB makes it–one slip of the finger and BOOM, you created an event. But it almost always happens in-house. FB even has new formats for multi-day events just for this reason. Creating multiple events waters down your events horribly, 2 going to this event, 45 going to this event, 6 interested in another–AND THEY’RE ALL THE SAME EVENT. And then the most horrendous thing of all happens: someone goes in and removes the two extra events. Everyone who responded or is following or interacted immediately gets a notification the event was CANCELLED.
CREATE A PLAN FOR NEGATIVITY. Everyone’s an expert, and a good chunk of them are Karens. People WILL be dissatisfied and the Yelp-economy and crowd-sourcing standardization are not going away. Decide how to respond–if at all–and stick to it. Do not respond hot-headedly, churlishly, or off-the-cuff. CALM DOWN. Talk about the response. Craft it properly. Discuss it. Work through all possible scenarios. Make it a team effort when everyone is cool and re-work it to get all the verbiage, facts, and inferences correct.
CREATE A PLAN FOR POSITIVITY. We all know some brands who have a zero-tolerance policy for SM. Usually larger corporations, they will not respond or comment or LIKE even to the most positive of posts or tags. I get it. It totally streamlines all the variables. Girl with 30k followers got a like, guy with 500 got nothing. Tag from major influencer was ignored, a massage-therapist with 0 engagement got a comment. So some brands just put a gag-order on everyone. Decide if this policy is right for you. And stick to it.
MAKE YOUR WINE AVAILABLE. Last thing–and where the rubber hits the road (or the dolla bills in your pocket). IF you want to sell wine, and I say IF… some people honestly do not encourage it… Make it easy for the ridiculously few people who you have somehow miraculously nurtured into taking the giant step 99.99999% of people on Social Media will NOT: Actually clicking on your site. BOOM. You’ve got them here, now what is going to be their experience? Can they find your BUY WINES page? How many clicks will it take to find the PURCHASE WINE button for that EXACT bottle of Sunny Harvest Merlot they saw on @sippin_with_becky’s instagram? Seriously: go count the clicks. 4? 2? 7? I don’t have to tell you how short peoples’ attention spans are these days. Clean that shit up.
Social media is here to stay, relax, have fun with it, don’t judge people who are *on their phones all the time* and use it to your benefit.