The power of twitter?
It’s been proved by Iran. I spent a good part of the weekend transfixed by the live coverage and images from the streets of Tehran, and saw YouTubes even before CNN aired them. Whatever doubts I had about Twitter’s historicity have now been erased.
But let me elaborate: that’s for breaking news. Twitter obviously does a great job when a government doesn’t want to let the world know what’s happening. No government can stop a cell phone or some other mobile device from capturing images and sending them around the globe at warp speed.
Where I’m still perplexed is how twitter relates to wine. It’s hard to imagine 100 tweets coming in every few seconds about anything wine related, the way they were on #iranelection. Nor is it easy for me to see how a tweet will get anyone to part with his or her money in order to buy a bottle of wine, or earn a young wine writer any recognition. Sure, maybe someone here or there will do it. Maybe someone will go out and buy something because their twitter friend recommended it. But I don’t think anyone’s figured out how to monetize twitter any more than they’ve figured out how to monetize a blog. Twitter is the essence of the World Wide Web: free, instant, democratic and viral. What it isn’t — as least, so far as I can tell — is marketable.
I wish someone would prove me wrong and show me how twitter has made any winery or blogger any money. Maybe, being in the depths of this recession, this isn’t the best time to be measuring twitter’s impact, which may be neutralized by other economic factors. Maybe when and if we emerge from the downturn, twitter’s power will become evident. Maybe there will be a model that proves that twitter can move quantities of wine, or earn a living for a writer, in a way nothing else can. If so, we haven’t yet seen it.
All this being said, it obviously doesn’t hurt, and can only help, a winery or writer to twitter, blog, do Facebook, etc. For wineries, they’re the equivalent of winemaker dinners, open houses and newsletters — traditional forms of outreach, updated for the digital age. Every little bit helps. But I think one winemaker dinner in New York or L.A., or a favorable review much less an article in a big magazine, is going to sell a hell of a lot more wine than having somebody from the winery tweet something that will just get washed away by the next 1,000 tweets in the next 30 seconds.
For wannabe wine writers, well, good luck breaking into the paycheck brigade. If twitter earns you a few bucks, mazel tov!