From 22-26 October 2010 I participated in the #EWBC (Eureopean Wine Bloggers Conference) – a fantastic international event organized by Gabriella and Ryan Opaz of Catavino, and Robert McIntosh of Thirst for Wine. The #EWBC was in its third year and was attended by 200 people from over 30 countries.
Now why do I want to share this experience with you? Besides learning a lot about social media and tasting some fabulous Austrian wines this event in my eyes was also a great illustration of how you can expand your brand presence online! How I can hear you whisper…
Well Elin McCoy, the famous wine journalist and author, addressed future of wine criticism in the opening Keynote. She raised a whole lot of questions about whom the wine critics of tomorrow would be and introduced the term “citizen wine critic”. She argued that because of the diversification of the wine world – the traditional wine critics at an established organisations (eg Robert Parker – or the guys at the Wine Spectator) are struggling to keep up with the new trends in the wine world. (new varieties, terroirs, vineyard and winemaking techniques) This diversification hence creates a need for local experts – often in the form of wine bloggers & wine lovers who are passionate about a specific region/variety – to share their knowledge and in this way help educate the consumer.
In my opinion, Elin was not saying that the traditional wine critics were not important anymore, but rather that the fast evolving wine world and the rise of social media has created other opportunities for wineries to gain brand awareness.
I would strongly advise you to create a winery blog on your website, and encourage your customers to leave comments here. Add a FB and Twitter share button, so that they can share their comments with their friends. I would also actively encourage people to leave a wine review on one of the many user generated content sites out there (eg like www.cellartracker.com, adegga.com or ablegrape.com). You can do this either on the label (for instance by using the avin system or adding a link to one of these sites) or encourage customers at tastings or at the cellar door. Cellartracker has more than 5 million reviews alone, and getting your customers in the habit to use these sites will make you less dependent on scores from the traditional wine critics. And best of all it’s free and is shared by thousands!
In the closing Keynote, by Evan Schnittman of Bloomsbury Publishing, spoke about how the rise of the internet has changed the world of publishing. More and more people reading books, articles etc are doing this today on a Kindle, iPads and other internet connected devices, which means they can reference and comment directly on what they are reading. And by doing this they will have the opportunity to reference blogs, social media channels and topic related websites.
Again I truly believe that this development allows you increased direct communication with your customers> However, in order to effectively do so, you will need to make sure your website is up to date and has tasting notes for all your wines in the market, as well as bottleshots, vineyard and winery images and the latest news readily available.
However maybe the most important lesson I learned from the #EWBC is that wineries actively involved in Social Media and attending these events will see an immediate increase in exposure. At these events you have a captive audience of international writers -who will feel privileged by you taking the time to taste them through your wines and as a result will happily share this experience with the rest of their online community. They will often write blog posts about you, or at least promote you on Twitter and Facebook. And again all this extra exposure only requires a few sample bottles and your presence at the event – a real bargain if you ask me:-)
To finish off this article I just would like to mention that a lot of my fellow wine bloggers have been a lot less slack that I have and have written some beautiful stories about the conference in the past few months.
Here are the links to some of my favourite stories:
EWBC – ongoing stories by Ryan O’connel
EWBC by Lucia Barzanò
EWBC through the eyes of Ignacio Segovia
Enjoy an Austrian Wine Holiday at the Loisium Wine and Spa Resort by Diane Letulle
Where some stories start and many go – by MissVickyWine
Exploring the art of Lunch in Vienna by Jim Budd
Listz in the Cellar by the Winesleuth
Gemütlichkeit: The Ideal Descriptor of Austrian Gastronomy by Gabriella Opaz