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Beyond blogging: Twisted Oak explores the possibilities of social media

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Part 2

Yesterday’s post explored Napa Valley Vintners’ exploration of social media, and promised to follow up today with how Twisted Oak, a Calaveras County winery, has pioneered the use of platforms such as Twitter. By sheer coincidence, in the last 24 hours, I stumbled across this blog from a San Diego woman, Eve Sieminski, a recent convert to Twisted Oak, which she discovered on Twitter. She writes:

Six months ago, I would never have dreamed of discovering a favorite wine through a site like Twitter. But that’s just what happened when Jeff Stai (aka El Jefe) and other wine buddies started twittering and raving about Twisted Oak wine. I loved the twisted name, trusted the reviews–and winemaker Jeff suggested I try their 2007 Calaveras County Viognier and the 2005 Murgatroyd.

Stai — El Jefe — long has blogged at Twisted Oak, and happily discovered that “We have definitely been found via search, and have gotten both direct consumers and distribution as a result.” But more recently, he’s gone beyond blogging into social media, to further drive Twisted Oak’s sales. “What social media has done for us is create the opportunity to interact with our community on a daily basis, almost 24/7. The platform doesn’t really matter – the important thing is to find those platforms where you are being talked about, and to find platforms where you can stimulate a discussion.”

El Jefe

Stai describes Twitter as “a sort of extended virtual water cooler – you choose who you want to listen to, and you just offer up what you are doing right now, and whoever is listening to you can respond.” Twisted Oak has garnered “new contacts and…business activity via Twitter,” as Eve Sieminski’s experience dramatically illustrates. But Twitter’s short attention span is such that “in all cases we move to email and/or phone after the initial contacts,” Stai says.

The other platform Stai refers to is Woot, which describes itself as “an online store and community that focuses on selling cool stuff cheap.” Stai says, “By being available on the Woot forum during the sales period to answer questions and comments, I believe we significantly drove sales higher – this is based on statements made by several of the participants.”

One final statement by Stai will be of interest to those who follow the ongoing issue of “old” versus “new” media and whether wine blogs will eventually replace traditional paper-bound media for reviews. “For us,” Stai says, “wine blogs have become a new way to generate meaningful reviews that aren’t limited by physical space and that can include food pairings, etc.” As Wine Enthusiast’s West Coast Editor, I know how hard it is for any one winery to obtain precious real estate on the pages of a print magazine, so it was especially interesting for me when Stai noted, “If we can get a major blog to say good things about our wines, it can have an effect like a feature article in a major magazine or newspaper.” (Stai does, however, concede the importance of print periodicals in driving sales, particularly those that employ a point system. As he says, “No score no pour.”)

The point of this 2-part series is that wineries and winery organizations are feeling their way along the outer edges of computer-based digital reality to figure out how to promote themselves. Some, like Twisted Oak, are further along than others. It’s likely that, before too much more time elapses, more and more wineries will turn to blogging and social media in order to become part of the extended conversation.

  1. Steve:

    Tip of the top hat for a timely story. I hope to link to it in a couple of places this week.

    Micro-blogging on places like Twitter allows for connections that might not be possible through traditional blogging–and can bring fresh readership to blogs. We are now starting to see blogs and business cards that provide links to personal Twitter accounts.

    Can billboards be far behind?

    PS: We tasted Twisted Oak’s Murgatroyd with Eve and her husband Greg a couple of weeks ago. It is one amazing wine!

  2. Interesting!

    I think that the Internet (social media, etc.) will make wineries/brands more transparent and increase the speed at which new wineries/brands that have a soul (like Twisted Oak) rise, and old wineries/brands (like the brands that had a soul in the past but are now just part of a portfolio) decline. That’s not to say that old brands can’t be revived, it’s just that it’s not like the days of yore where a tasting room and some ads in wine magazines did the trick…

  3. A very interesting topic. I agree this is the way to go in modern marketing. Blogs and online cellar managing tools are becoming and more and more important in terms of gathering information on a specific wine. As a consumer I can easily do without a subscription to a wine magazine and still get most of the information on the internet. It might involve a little more work, but its free.

    Social media platforms on the internet are probably just the next step. That´s where wine producers can reach a lot of people to promote but also answer questions and discuss. That raises interest, awareness and can ultimately lead to higher sales. But most wineries are probably not ready for this from of advertising. Probably a lot more so in Europe.

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