Draft: Twitter book wine chapter

4 08 2009

Working Title –
Chapter x: Wineries Like the Taste of Twitter

(Introduction)

“Wine is inherently social so it’s really well-suited for social media, for Twitter,” says Rick Bakas, director of social media marketing at St. Supery Vineyards and Winery in Napa Valley, California. Bakas refers to the timeless tradition, across centuries and cultures, of convening around food and wine to socialize. Twitter provides a virtual roundtable where wine enthusiasts can meet and talk wine.

How many characters does it take to describe tasting a wine? How many characters does it take to recommend a wine? More and more people are finding it takes fewer than 140, and thus more wineries are surfacing on Twitter.

This chapter will explore how wineries came to find Twitter, their experiences, practices and measurement for using the platform. It will also identify two case studies documenting best uses of Twitter. We will make these findings through the stories of the following wineries:

•    Eagles Nest Winery (@eaglesnestwine)
•    St. Supery Vineyards and Winery (@stsupery)
•    Sobon Family Wines (@sobonwine)
•    Donati Family Vineyard (@donatifamily)
•    King Estate Winery (@kingestate) Read the rest of this entry »





Wine chapter outline

28 07 2009

I. Introduction

– Murphy Goode anecdote.

– Why the wine industry?

II. Methodology.

III. Overview of how Twitter is used.

IV. Case study #1

V. Case study #2

VI. Conclusion/Recommendations.





Methodology for Twitter accounts to review

24 07 2009

The wine industry is much more active on Twitter than I first thought. Acanmedia hosts just a sample list. After reviewing dozens upon dozens of Twitter accounts, I think I’ve determined a good methodology for selecting accounts to include in the book.

Having very little knowledge about the wine industry, I started by searching the Twitter director WeFollow.com. From there I dove into the stream and explored how wineries were using Twitter, which seemed to be most influential and what metrics should be considered.

While browsing the wine industry on Twitter, I looked at the same criteria outlined by our case study template: Twitter page design, bio information, number of followers and following, number of tweets,  recent type of tweets (promotional, replies, retweets) and transparency.

Generally, I’ve been looking at wineries with a complete, branded Twitter page design, relevant and valuable bio information, at least 1,000 followers, engaging Tweets with at least 50 percent at replies and RTs (combined) and good transparency (We know who’s doing the tweeting).

After making these determinations I created a target list of wineries/wine personalities to reach out to and have sent them my research questions for input.

My initial list is:

@eaglesnestwine
@winetwits
@stsupery
@sobonwine
@sonomawineguy
@kingestate

More to come!





Wine thought-leaders on Twitter

23 07 2009

Gary Vaynerchuk (@Garyvee)– Gary is the host of Wine Library TV, which is a popular wine video blog. He’s been on Twitter since May 4, 2007 (a relatively long time) and has posted 6,144 tweets as of July 22, 2009. He has 756,715 followers and follows 9,168. From what I can tell, Gary has the most reach and influence in Twitter of all the wine personalities.

Alder Yarrow (@Vinography) – Alder is the founder and editor of Vinography, one of the most influential wine blogs on the Internet. He’s been on Twitter since Nov. 24, 2008 and has posted 831 updates as of July 23, 2009. He has 2,544 followers and follows 1,863.

Rick Bakas (@rickbakas) – After spending eight years as a senior marketer and designer for Nike, Rick transitioned into the wine industry. He most recently accepted a position as Director of Social Media Marketing for St. Supery winery in Napa Valley. He’s been on Twitter since Feb. 28, 2008 and posted 14,688 updates as of July 23, 2009. He has 25,882 followers and follows 25,337.

Shana Ray (@sharayray) – Shana Ray is the social media director for Sonoma County and works for congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, who represents California’s sixth congressional district (most of Sonoma County). Thus, she connects people and attends the events. I contacted her for references in the Twitter wine world and she was immediately responsive. She’s been on Twitter since July 16, 2007 and has posted 7,024 updates as of July 23, 2009. She has 1,785 followers and follows 967.

@winetwits – I can’t determine who’s behind @winetwits, but there’s no question that the handle is one of the go-to wine aggregates on Twitter. This is no stale news feed. @winetwits tweets with a human voice and interacts with its followers. Its Tweets offer industry information, special offers and recommendations. It has been on Twitter since Sept. 25, 2008 and has posted 3,751 updates as of July 23, 2009. It has 37,803 followers and follows 41,362.





Aha! – A Twitter reflection

20 07 2009

Last week, @eaglesnestwineries pointed me to Dr. Vino’s article, “Small wineries tweet harder.” The article pointed out how off-the-beaten-path wineries  are apparently working harder on Twitter, resulting in high rankings on WeFollow compared to big name wineries. In the article, Dr. Vino (Tyler Colman) questioned the ROI of Twitter efforts and creatively (via South Park metaphor) shared his hesitancy to toward considering Twitter a serious marketing tool for wineries.

The article was tongue-in-cheek from what I could tell, and clearly Dr. Vino sees the value of Twitter having more than 1,800 followers and posting more than 1,000 updates since joining in March 2008. Readers took the article more seriously. In the following reader comments (32 total) I saw that:

  1. People in the wine industry are enthusiastic about Twitter.
  2. People in the wine industry are enthusiastically questioning Twitter.
  3. These groups are vocal.

The debate in the comments were not opposing. Rather they were both trying to identify the same end goal – value. It’s as if, and this applies to all industries, everyone is looking at the same map. They see where they are and where they want to go. It’s just no one can decide which way is north.

My “Aha!” moment was seeing that everyone in that community of readers, regardless of opinion, was hungry for information and dialogue. The comments, in addition to the vast and lively wine industry chatter I’ve witnessed on Twitter, validated the appetite for our book by the wine industry. So, I commented on the article to let this audience know that our book is on its way.





Reflection: Infotopia and Twitter

20 07 2009

Throughout Infotopia, I consistently leaned toward Sunstein’s pessimistic purview of group deliberation as it applies to Twitter. Especially regarding real-time events — like when the plane landed in the Hudson River or at the start of the Iran elections — inaccuracies appear on Twitter and people amplify them through their “echo chambers” of followers. This  doesn’t lend to Twitter being a source of entirely credible information or a reliable infotopia. Of course, over time the community corrects itself through deliberation and sourcing mainstream news sources, but that real-time information exchange is where Twitter has an advantage over other means of news outlets.

When the news is wrong Twitter has an unprecedented means of self-correction through the massive scale of deliberation — only limited by the number of people who want to participate. Conversations can be fairly organized, or organized enough through hashtags. Barriers to productive deliberation — social influences — are minimal on Twitter for mass-scale conversations, such as national elections, because it’s simply impossible to know the status or expertise of everyone in the conversations. However, niche conversations like local elections or PR in Washington State can suffer from the same social influences as any deliberation format because those who would be a part of those micro conversations would likely know enough about each other to determine and be influenced by status and/or expertise.

My opinion of Twitter as an infotopia remains pessimistic because of the likelihood and perpetuation of inaccuracies and the short attention span people have  on Twitter — diminishing the impact of the evolved, accurate information. As proven by the many guest speakers we’ve had in class, from Monica Guzman to Elliot Pesut, Twitter has value as a real-time source of information, not as a source for archived or long-term conversations. Given this context, where Twitter theoretically can collectively gain from the crowd, the audience for that corrected information is a minority while the majority has moved on to the next conversation.





Best practices on Twitter: Wine industry

13 07 2009

Monica Guzman of the Seattle P-I said, “How businesses use Twitter is an inherent contradiction.” She referred to businesses’ priority to sell vs. the Twitter community’s priority to converse. However, there can be a balance where businesses converse and maintain a conversation to the benefit of their bottom line. The following wine industry organizations have performed some best practices on Twitter.

Murphy-Goode: Tweeting from @areallygoodjob, Murphy Goode launched one of the latest and greatest social media contests on Twitter. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Murphy-Goode, “devised a dream job – $60,000 and lodging over six months for one savvy social media wizard to make the Healdsburg winery the talk of the Internet. This online “lifestyle correspondent” would blog, tweet and generally sing the praises of Murphy-Goode’s vineyards and wines.” The New York Times, Today Show and LA Times also covered the story. More than 2,000 applicants applied, according to a June 26 Murphy-Goode press release announcing the top 50 applicants. From this perspective, the social media was a best practice.

However, Murphy-Goode is now receiving backlash for not being transparent in its applicant selection process. When contest front-runner Martin Sargent was not selected as a finalist he tweeted, “Thank you all for your tremendous support! But I am not included in the top 50 candidates for @areallygoodjob. Congrats to those who were.” That tweet received more than 2,200 Diggs in just over two weeks. In their Digg comments, people were upset by the unclear selection process. Murphy-Goode quickly went from being praised by the media to receiving negative remarks, such as “Murphy Goode has absolutely no clue what they’re doing” and “Murphy Goode is banned from my cellar and table.” @areallygoodjob is still a best practice for its ability to create excitement in a brand on Twitter, but it’s also a worst practice for not playing by the #1 social media rule: Be transparent.

Guy-Jacques: In The Cluetrain Manifesto, Doc Searls and David Weinberger said, “Your company needs to engage in the new market conversations. Conversations occur in human voices. Your voice is the public expression of your authentic identity, of who you really are, of where you really come from. So let’s draw the logical conclusion: on the Net at least, your company can’t engage in the market conversation without its authentic voice.” Guy-Jacques tweets from his own account, @guyjacques, to promote Vinivino, a wine social network. This level of intimiacy and transparency lend to his success. People talk to and hear from Guy-Jacques rather than the network he represents.

He has no gimmick or contests related to his Twitter account. Rather he utilizes all of its uses from a design perspective:

  • He identifies himself as co-founder of Vinivino (transparency)
  • The Vinivino brand is included in his profile background.
  • He tells people what Vinivino is about in his profile background: “A wine enthusiast community where you build Wine Journal, review and rate the wines you taste. Keep track of your wines with the ‘My Cellar’ tool…”‘
  • He surpasses Twitter’s limited, single bio link and includes additional links in his profile background to promote his blogs.

In addition to a well-designed, informational Twitter profile page, Guy-Jacques uses Twitter conversationally to promote the social network. As a result, he has 5,711 followers to his 6,186 following and ranks #2 on WeFollow under the “winery” category. This is a huge audience for an individual and reflects his best practices on Twitter.

Eagles Nest Winery: With 6,182 followers to its 6,736 following, @eaglesnestwine ranks #1 on WeFollow under the “winery” category. There’s good reason why. From a design perspective, Eagles Nest includes all of the right information on Twitter: who’s who, blog address, physical address, etc. Beyond a complete profile, Eagles Nest seperates itself from the rest with its engagement approach.

First, Dennis and Julie Grimes, owners of Eagles Nest use the “#wine” hashtag on nearly every post. This allows them to be searched easily using a simple and obvious search term. Second, they take Twitter beyond conversation and host “virtual wine tasting” and livestream wine tasting events at the vineyards. The latest, July 10 tasting is hosted on the Eagles Nest Web site. By incorporating offline and online components, Eagles Nest is enhancing the value of its Twitter account and differentiating its content from the next winery. Unlike many wineries, Eagles Nest also publishes its Twitter feed directly on its Web site so that people who are not on Twitter can still see their tweets. For all of these reasons, @eaglesnestwine is a best practice.