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Saturday 25 October 2014

Wineries who shun social media will experience “digital Darwinism”

27th June, 2012 by Lucy Shaw

Social media is now so important to the wine world that wineries who put off using it will experience “digital Darwinism”, a leading digital expert has warned.

“Social media is one of the most powerful customer interaction channels in the world, more relevant than anything seen in human history,” Paul Mabray of winery social media index Vintank told the drinks business.

“Those who choose to keep waiting will see their customers migrating to the use of these channels and will experience digital Darwinism,” he added, describing the wine industry as “the last to have not succeeded online.”

Ryan Opaz of wine marketing agency Vrazon believes it is “fundamental” for wineries to have a presence on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

“You can’t survive without it, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. If you don’t embrace it, you’re back in the Stone Age,” he told db.

A recent survey on social media in the French and US wine industries carried out by digital marketing agency ABLE found that 94% of the American wineries surveyed were on Facebook, compared to 53% of French wineries.

It also found 73% of US wineries had a Twitter account, compared to just 41% of French wineries.

According to wine communicator Robert McIntosh, medium-sized wineries set to gain the most from social media.

“For a medium-sized winey seeking a sales boost, social media can be a great way of getting noticed by an agent or distributor and securing a listing,” he told db.

But despite their popularity, McIntosh believes new sites will eventually replace Facebook and Twitter.

“We’ll soon see a shift in the way people use social media – the obsession with the number of followers you have on Twitter and “likes” you accrue on Facebook will be replaced by sites focusing on small but meaningful networks of no more than 100 people,” he said.

Rather damningly, Robert Joseph, founder of consumer research site DoILikeIt?.com, believes winery websites are “some of the worst on the internet”.

The majority, he feels, show no understanding of what consumers want. “People want to buy a benefit and are asking themselves: ‘Is this wine going to make me look savvy in front of my friends?’ They want reassurance,” he told db.

While wineries and merchants may not be getting the design of their websites right, online wine sales are set for considerable growth in the following year.

Simon McMurtrie, ceo of Direct Wines, recently revealed that 50% of the company’s UK sales, and 75% of its Hong Kong sales are now online – figures predicted to rise in 2013.

A full analysis of the importance of social media in the wine world will appear in the July issue of the drinks business.

8 Responses to “Wineries who shun social media will experience “digital Darwinism””

  1. M Townsend says:

    The wine industry as a whole is so far behind the times with technology and social media it’s frightening. Most haven’t heard of this new craze that the youngsters use – ‘the facebook’ ?

  2. John Capone says:

    I appreciate what Mr. Mabray is saying. And thoughtful social strategies can be very helpful in spreading brand awareness. However, as the author states:

    “While wineries and merchants may not be getting the design of their websites right, online wine sales are set for considerable growth in the following year.”

    Doesn’t this directly contradict Mr. Maybray’s assertion that the wine industry is “the last to have not succeeded online.”

    They may not being winning any Webbies but people are buying wine online in massive numbers.

    • Paul Mabray says:

      John Capone,
      Though the growth is large, it is coming from the smallest base (especially compared to other industries). When you consider that the biggest e-tailer for wine is just over $60M vs $1B for Zappos who sells shoes, you can see how far we are behind as an industry.

      Malcom RF – those figures were from a survey from another company. That being said we give away our software for FREE to any winery to help them understand the relevance of SM. We currently power over 4000 wine brands (more than any other software company in the world). My statements were not meant to be hyperbolic but factual. This has proven true in business history over and over again. Remember when phones became a pervasive communication channel in the world for people and businesses that did not have one lost business accordingly. Or the fax? Or email? Or a website? Or e-commerce? With every major technological advancement those businesses that ignored the new channels of communication and sales suffered accordingly and lost business to those who did.

      We can not deny that we live in a digital society powered by search, e-commerce, mobile and social. We also can not deny that we live in the era where “customers are in control.” Finally we also can’t deny that we live in the most competitive environment ever seen in wine history. Finding the most efficient and effective ways to create and maintain customer relationships is paramount to the success of all brands. Social is one of the four pillars of our ability to establish that ever necessary bond with a modern customer and will become MORE so as customers continue to leverage these pervasive tools.

      Lucy, Thank you for the excellent article and I look forward to reading the full version.

      Paul Mabray – VinTank

  3. Malcolm RF says:

    What a ridiculous statement, “94% of the American wineries surveyed were on Facebook, compared to 53% of French wineries.” So!? Was any correlation done between proftibility or otherwise of these “American wineries” vs “French wineries”? The structure of the industry is vastly different between the two countries, being on Facebook isn’t going to change the profile or sales structure of a commune facility in the Languedoc. And yeah, way to create an article about the importance of social media to the wine industry based on the statements of the CEO of a company that profits from managing social media for the wine industry. Welcome to the New Journalism.

  4. Erica Liebenberg says:

    Thanks Lucy for an excellent article, I look forward to reading the full report. Finally some stats that demonstrate compellingly what we have known only intuitively! As much as not getting left behind, those unwilling or unable to play in the space are missing opportunities to converse with customers, who will quickly tire of having their feedback and comments ignored!

  5. John Capone says:

    I would definitely argue against the statement that we live in an era where “the customer is control.” Besides a few outliers (crisis and other anomalies) what examples could you point to that proves this? There is the illusion of control, but what it amounts to people complaining into the void on Yelp, Facebook and Twitter. This is a fairytale perpetuated for far too long. The advertisers with the biggest budgets who spend the most still have the loudest voices. Whether on TV, radio, or social channels.

  6. craig says:

    Thanks for this very useful article.

  7. Robin says:

    Thanks for a great article! It is really important to interact with the customer nowadays. This will contribute to the business results.

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