Steve Heimoff posted a timely blog yesterday called, “Do it urself.” It resonated with me because the number one intention for the Thomson Vineyards blog is to tell the story of what’s going on in the vineyard; tales of The Farmer’s ATV antics; how we’re freezing our asses off without frost protection; i.e. the focus of the blog is intended to be vineyard/farming centric. However, it is undeniable and no secret that I’m a Millennial who has a lot to say on social media. Steve’s blog post goes hand in hand with an internal discussion I had with myself last week about whether or not to stray from farm-centric and general wine industry posts and occasionally toss out a post related to social media every now and again. After a fair amount of consideration I’ve determined one post on social media can’t detract from the overall Thomson Vineyards primary message: Ultra premium Napa Carneros Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Merlot that comes from happy vines and happy farmers for sale in 2010. And secondary message: wine begins with farming; without farmers there would be no wine.
This morning I left a lengthy comment on Steve’s blog. Visiting his blog for me is like going to Costco for most. You can’t get out of Costco for under two hundred bucks; I can’t get out of the comment form in under 2,000 words. I have one statement and one shameless plug that I ask you to consider, before I get into posting my Twitter Crash Course.
1) I agree 100% with Steve. Do it urself. It=social media, blogging, new technology to build your brand, winery, persona. Whatever it is you’re trying to sell. Because in the end of the day that is what we are all trying to do SELL – “authentic” stuff aside, right? And no one but urself can say it how you would say it.
2) If you absolutely cannot do it urself…hire someone like me. I’m looking and slightly available. I will peer over your shoulder as you do whatever it is you’re going to do with that load of grapes you just brought into the crush pad; I will ask you about what affect atmospheric pressure had on that white varietal you just put though the press; I will watch like a hawk as you do pump overs and bottling; because if your new SM guru isn’t attached to your side at every facet of the wine making process – tell them to go back to wherever it is they came from, you’re not buying what they are selling. The disconnect we as an industry are creating between the actual art and process of wine and consumers believing wine grows on trees is doing us all a disservice. I believe that disconnect is becoming an even wider abyss because the desk jockeys and couch kings sitting in the marketing offices are not getting into the vineyard or cellar often enough to tell the complete story. Unpopular statement I know. See me today at the SF Vintners Market to duke it out.
Over the past two weeks I’ve sent one very well respected viticulture PhD and one very intelligent and successful winemaker, we work with, the following crash courses on Twitter. Out of all the social media mediums out there, Twitter is the easiest. Seriously. Stop laughing; I’m about to show you how it beats the pants off of Facebook and blogging if you only have time to do one thing.
Brief Case Study 1: The Farmer attended an irrigation workshop the first week in April. He requested that I get the presentation from the PhD who, “knew a lot.” In the interim I track down the PhD and find him on Twitter. Great handle. One post. Something to the effect of, “First post – thought this would be a good place to update what’s going on with the irrigation and conservation work I’m doing with growers in Napa and Sonoma.” Posted months ago. No updates. Immediately I think – umm hello! What an awesome project! Why would you not use this medium? Send email asking that very question. PhD responds, “I don’t really get it.” I send back:
Subject Line: Twitter Crash Course
Here’s a brief outline of what you need to know in order to start using Twitter
a. The Hash Tag, which is the #, is a tag attached to keywords like blogging. It helps Twitter users search for topical information they are interested in. So in my case I tag key words related to the vineyard, farming, business, the economy, wine, varietals. You would probably use a lot of similar tags related to wine, but also #conservation #water #soil #science. There is no hash tag dictionary. Essentially you’re trying to spread your message further and wider so tag words you think are topical.
b. The @ symbol is for when I’m talking directly to someone. It still shows up in the public space but that way they know that message was meant for them. So if I was talking directly to you I would include in the 140 characters something like: @grapedoctor attended your workshop in #Napa today on #water – good stuff! We should all #conserve more. You don’t have to include the @ if you’re just making a general comment.
c. The end result of those two symbols is that while I was directly talking to you – all of my followers saw that I attended your workshop and beyond even those people who “follow” you or I, people in the greater Twitter universe who are interested in #water #Napa #conserve can now find you and follow what you are saying on those topics.
d. The basic premise for Twitter is that people can have conversation, share interesting things, facts, and information further and wider than geographically thought possible. At the same time it builds you a network of people/colleagues/friends interested in the same thing you’re interested in.
It’s a powerful tool! I began with just one tweet a day – my dad would check in by phone and say, “I’m irrigating block 1 of pinot.” I would turn that into the following 140 character tweet, “Farmer was up at 6a. #Irrigating today. You need your morning #coffee – #PinotNoir #grapevines need their morning burst of #H2O!”
Ultimately my intention was that winemakers we work with would follow us, and I wouldn’t have to send a million emails or phone calls telling them how their grapes are doing, that hasn’t totally caught on yet, but I’m working at it!
Anyhow, there’s a search bar on the right navigation bar of Twitter that says “search” plug in #water or #conservation today and you can see everyone in the world on Twitter and who’s talking about those topics and what they are saying real time. If you take the next step and “follow” them, what they are saying will show up in your “stream” – the center column of twitter on your page. That way you don’t have to go out there searching for what they are saying and catch up with them, it’s like an RSS feed delivered right to your Twitter inbox – in a sense.
Good Luck! Catch you on the flip side.
Brief Case Study 2: Enter incredibly intelligent and successful Gen X winemaker with social media sites galore in the Google Search Engine rankings. A mish mosh of random posts and a bunch of, “Look at me I’m claiming my brand online but not actually doing anything useful with it.” Brand has two niches 1) amazing and unusual winery location and 2) a start up entrepreneurial business plan that The Farmer shakes his head at most days, but may just work. After accepting my free social media consult where I tell him to clean up his brand image online he returns from very expensive wine workshop and tells me two things: 1) I HATE Facebook and 2) I’m not gonna’ do that Twitter thing, I’m just gonna’ do Facebook. I respond, “As your unpaid Social Media Millennial Consultant and favorite Napa Grape Grower – you’re an idiot. Why would you do the one thing you hate?” I also point out Facebook is a ton more work (he claims he has no time). Facebook requires that you proactively go out and get your fans and followers. Twitter allows users to find and follow you using a variety of search techniques that are supported by an infrastructure and program design that naturally allows your marketing reach to extend further and wider with less total expenditure of energy. As a guest on #socialwine later that evening, I supply him with the following crash course on how to use Twitter to engage in a regularly scheduled #winewednesday discussion forum, something you cannot do with Facebook; making the conversation there much more one sided:
Subject Line: So You Hate Facebook But You’ve Chosen it as Your Best Shot at Social Media?
Dear Gen X Rockstar Winemaker,
If you’re gonna go anywhere in this Wine World first search ThomsonVnyrds in “Find People” and select “follow” in the “gear” drop down menu. In order to follow along tonight with #socialwine I’ve crafted you a brief crash course on what you need to know.
#SocialWine for the Twitter Beginner
a. log in
b. look to right navigation bar for search bar
c. type in #socialwine
d. stream will come up in center “stream”
e. refresh browser every now and again between 6 p. – 7 p. Wednesday OR
f. watch for “new tweet” at top of “stream” and hit blue bar to refresh
g. if you are brave and can muster a 140c comment be sure to include #socialwine in “what’s happening box” to include your comment in “stream”
#SocialWine for the Twitter Intermediate
a. go to http://tweetchat.com/
b. sign in with twitter at top of page
c. enter “socialwine” in search bar at top of page
d. this application/site automatically adds the # and “tag” to your comments, no need to enter, just be brave and type in 140c
e. set refresh speed to 2-3 seconds, or whatever you personal preference is
f. this application/site will auto refresh and “stream” continuously
Don’t do something you hate. That’s just silly. Ciao!
Well, I have managed to get out of this post in under 2,000 words – just barely. I’ll be at SF Vintners Market today in about an hour with my Social Media Posse. Find me and let me know what you think. I’ll give you a cupcake.