Published in Wines & Vines, April 2018
If you’re one of the 7,723 wineries in the U.S. producing less than 5,000 cases a year, you’ve got your hands full. Your days are likely filled with the everyday work of making wine and running a business. But what is often overlooked, or not even on, the mile long to-do list are the basics of social media marketing.
It takes time to understand the various platforms and to determine where your winery should be. Is Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest the best way to attract customers and get them into your winery? It can be hard to post as often as needed or to be thoughtful about your communication, but a little effort can go a long way to increase wine sales.
Nearly 5 years ago, I left my 15-year career in corporate marketing to start out on my own as a marketing consultant. Through my work, I talk to many wineries who are struggling to keep the doors open but are doing very little in the way of marketing. Not because of lack of desire, but because they just don’t know where to start. I started The Social Sip, a social media marketing company for wineries, out of my passion for marketing, wine and a desire to help wineries succeed.
The number one reason businesses succeed or fail is their ability to attract customers. While regularly posting on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter may seem like a daunting task, it’s critical for attracting new customers. In addition to consulting with other wineries, I’m also the co-owner of Fletcher Bay Winery on Bainbridge Island, Washington and have had the chance to experiment with social media tactics for my own winery to find out what really works.
Instead of being everywhere and managing business pages for all the social media platforms, it’s best to begin with where your customers are. Identify your target demographic and start with which platforms you think they’re on. If your target is women who like pairing food with their wine and finding new recipes, Pinterest is the place to be. If your target is a younger demographic and you can create highly visual, beautiful content, Instagram is where you should start.
Facebook continues to be the most widely used social media platform, with 66% of American internet users and 2.07 billion monthly active users (as of September 2017). At a minimum, your winery should be on Facebook and actively posting and engaging with potential customers. Here are some things you can do to leverage Facebook as a tool to increase sales:
1. If your winery hosts events, in addition to posting them to your website, add them to the events tab on Facebook. Facebook Local is a newish app that is quickly becoming the hot spot for Millennial consumers looking for local area events. If your winery’s event is posted on your Facebook events tab, it will automatically appear in Facebook Local app searches.
2. Add your wines to the shop tab on Facebook. If you have a website where you sell your wines, link it to your Facebook shop. If you don’t sell your wines online, Facebook can help you set up a shop through your business page.
3. Videos get many, many times more shares, likes, comments and engagements than a static post. Live videos are even better than a pre-recorded video and get viewed 3x longer than videos that aren’t live. This translates into more exposure for your winery and more people purchasing your wines as a result.
4. Create quality content, not quantity. Facebook recently announced changes to their algorithms that will prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people on Facebook. This means that frequent posts without much meaning will be shown less frequently to your audience. People will have to visit your page to see these posts. What this means for your winery is that you need to become thoughtful and strategic about your posts. Ask questions to engage your audience and start a conversation. Create more live videos, which still have reach inside your newsfeed.
If this sounds overwhelming and you’re not sure where to start, here are some ideas for creating live videos:
- Interview your winemaker when a new wine is released. Talk about what makes this wine awesome, why you picked that varietal and what the flavor characteristics are. Always include a call to action at the end of your post or video. Here are a couple examples:
- To try this wine for yourself, visit the winery on Saturday at 3pm for our release party.
- Stop by the winery to get your bottle of this limited release before it’s gone.
- Order a bottle on our website under the shop tab.
Note: Always include a link to your website for ease of shopping.
Make it a trackable link using a shortening tool like bitly so you can see how many people are visiting your website as a result of this post call to action. If your wines are loaded into your Facebook shop, that’s even better! Let your audience know they don’t even have to leave Facebook to purchase that wine. Create a video that teases an upcoming event. Ask a leading question of your Facebook audience that pertains to the event and ask them to respond in the comments. For example, if you’re creating a video about an upcoming Wine 101 class at your winery, you can ask your Facebook audience to leave a comment stating what they’re hoping to get out of the class. Go live when you’re bottling to show how that process looks in your winery. To create a live video when you’re bottling (or doing anything that Facebook fans would like to see in the moment), simply select the “Live Video” icon from your Facebook page. The “Live Video” icon is found to the left of “Photo” in the status update area. Once you select this icon, you’ll be recording and broadcasting live. Click “End Video” when you’re done to share.
Harvest is an especially great time to show what’s happening in the vineyard and educate your customers on all the hard work that goes into making wine.
Remember that your audience is following your winery’s page because they care about your wines and want to hear from you.
Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are where people are making purchasing or visiting decisions. If you’re not active where your customers are, your business is losing out on a very easy and cost-effective way to connect with potential customers. It takes an average 10 pieces of consumed content by a single person before a buying decision is made. That means you need to keep the valuable posts going to convert a follower into a customer.