Hey Joe, lighten up on the social media thing
It must drive wineries crazy to read stuff like Joe Roberts’ post today at 1WineDude.
Winery owners are doing everything they can to keep afloat in this dour economy. Most of them are tinkering with social media to some extent; some of them even have dedicated employees for it, if they can afford it. Inbetween buying corks and capsules, hoping the bottling line doesn’t break down, filling out employee forms, patching up hoses, worrying about drought or swamps in the vineyard, pruning, staking, riding the mule around the vineyard, topping off, racking, tinkering with valves and dials and switches, deciding on blends, driving to the hardware store, going on the road to sell wine, meeting with distributors and wholesalers, having staff meetings, and, oh, trying to find an hour to spend with the wife and kiddies, here’s Joe telling them they need to “just start using that time on social media to connect with customers already.”
What time? You mean those few hours between midnight and dawn when everyone’s entitled to a little sleep?
I pity these poor vintners. Everybody’s telling them to do social media, “to reach younger wine consumers” through the Twitter machine, to check their Facebook feed every three minutes, to blog, to make YouTubes and put them up on Oinga-Boinga or Diddly-Squat or whatever the hot new social platform is that’s about to go public. And those vintners are just sitting there, like, What? What are you talking about? It’s easy for someone who doesn’t have a real job to tell them to hang out on social media all day long, as that will magically solve all their problems. It’s also easy for that same blogger to tell winemakers “But if I were a small-production winery, I’d be worrying a hell of a lot more about how to reach, engage, and keep customers I had (as well as engaging new ones) than trying to get a crazy-good review with critics.” Why would a blogger tell winemakers not to be concerned with the critics? That’s crazy talk. And it must drive winemakers nuts (like I said) to think that they’re not doing enough to “engage and keep” their customers. When you accuse a hard-working vintner of being lazy when it comes to engaging customers, it’s like asking a guy when he stopped beating his wife. There is no answer that’ll get him off the hook. If he admits he’s not reaching out enough to potential customers, he subjects himself to feelings of guilt and suffering, because he knows that, no matter what he does, it can never be enough.
I agree that winemakers or owners should play around with social media, if they want to and like it. I spend a lot of time at it myself. But I don’t think it’s helpful to tell them that they’re bad if they’re not living online. When Joe (whom I like a lot, I really do and he knows it) says, “Honestly, I’ve got no idea what producers (especially smaller wine producers) are waiting for when it comes to outreach,” he’s really doing a disservice to the people he says he’s trying to help. How does he presume to know that producers are “waiting for” something? He doesn’t know the myriad ways that each producer is reaching out and engaging, whether it’s through a wine club, or working the tasting room, or hitting the road for a winemaker dinner, or writing thank you notes to valued colleagues, or visiting Wine Enthusiast’s headquarters in New York and tasting with the staff. Winery people work really hard, long hours. Telling them they have to put social media at the top of the list of things they’re already overwhelmed with is really no help at all.