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Does your content pass the “So what” test?

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That’s the headline on a little article from Rachel Luxemburg, a “social media strategist” at Adobe, who defines the “So what? test” this way: “Ask yourself, ‘Is this something my fans / friends / followers are truly going to care about or will they shrug and say ‘So what?’”

The “So what? test” is something every blogger understands. Or, this blogger, anyway. I realized early on, when I started blogging more than six years ago, that no one would care about what I wrote, unless I gave them a guarantee of two things: (a) the writing would be as good as I could possibly make it, and (b) I’d change the post five times a week, so that people could look forward to something fresh Monday through Friday.

I knew that you can’t assume people will come to your site unless you offer them a reason to come—and to return on a regular basis. It’s hard work, and I knew that I’d better not even begin, unless I meant to follow up and do what had to be done. After all, I don’t want to do anything unless I can do it really well. That was my approach to karate when I studied it; it included being a professional wine writer and critic for 25 years, during which I deferred to no one; and so by extension I applied that same exacting standard to steveheimoff.com.

From a marketing point of view, the “So what? test” also is important for wineries. As I’ve written many times in the past, having a presence on social media, including blogs, is fine and dandy, but I would argue that my two criteria—good writing and frequent updates—mark the difference between mediocre, ho-hum social media, and social media that attracts eyeballs. People are busy; no one has the time to go to an online site that’s boring, with the same content it had yesterday, and last week, and last month, and—gasp!—last year. But we all know winery sites that are fossilized; they’re the walking dead, zombies that look alive but aren’t.

Rachel, the Adobe strategist, suggests three simple ways a social media site can attract viewers: is “what we’re sharing…actually interesting, useful, or just plain fun?” It doesn’t have to be all three. What’s interesting may not be useful, although what’s useful generally is of interest. And fun need not aspire to any standard higher than simply giving people a few moments of enjoyment. It’s not rocket science, this business of making online content “interesting, useful or just plain fun,” which makes it all the more surprising when you see how many wineries don’t seem capable of doing it.

Well, in fairness, a winery can’t do it, if there’s not somebody at the helm who cares about social media, and has the time and resources to pull it off. Again, not all wineries have such a person, and it’s a pity, because it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of time or effort to do it reasonably well. I think the uppermost thing to keep in mind, for a winery social media person, is to find a “voice” that’s natural, human and communicative. Too often, winery social media is written and managed by public relations people who—for all their positive virtues—aren’t always the best communicators. They tend to take refuge in hyperbole and clichés, thinking that giving a stale old marketing message will engage readers. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Today’s consumer has seen it all, heard it all, and isn’t in the mood for another commercial disguised as a conversation. They want to be engaged as intelligent adults. They have finely tuned B.S. meters that can detect falsity a mile away.

Social media has evolved a lot since I started blogging, but in some fundamental way, it has remained the same—and will continue to. The rules of authenticity, transparency and respect for your readers and viewers still apply.

 

  1. Bob Henry says:

    Steve,

    At the risk of sounding churlish, the corollary of the “So, what?” test is the “Who ARE you?” test.

    What are your bona fides, and why should I care what you write?

    Just because folks have an Internet connection and have ideas floating around in their heads doesn’t mean those ideas are worth disseminating.

    There are over 1,450 “recognized” wine blogs. Can’t possibly be that much interesting content being created.

    Excerpt from the Wall Street Journal
    (March 29, 2013):

    “Five Wine Blogs I Really Click With”

    Link: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127…

    By Lettie Teague
    “ON Wine” Column

    “There are about 1,450 wine blogs today, of which about 1,000 are nonprofessional endeavors (the rest are ‘industry’ blogs), according to Allan Wright of the Zephyr Adventures tour operator, who has organized the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference in North America for the past five years. But most bloggers haven’t been doing it very long: ‘Only 18% of [wine] bloggers today have been blogging for more than six years,’ he said.

    Link: http://winebloggersconference.org/from-the-organizers/complete-list-of-wine-blogs/

    “Most of the bloggers were doing it just for ‘personal satisfaction,’ Mr. Wright said, since the possibility of making money was quite small. . . .”

    ~~ Bob

  2. I think this applies to far more in the wine business than social media.

    As a retail buyer, I constantly have New World Wine Brand Managers who’s sales pitch is basically. “We make wine and it is pretty good.”
    Or European wineries who’s story is “We are a family. We make wine.”

    I’m constantly wanting to ask them, “So what?” or “What makes you special for my customer?”

    I don’t ask them that. I’m polite. But I don’t stock their wine in my store either.

  3. Bob Henry says:

    Austin,

    Looked you up: http://www.austinbeeman.com/about-me/

    Congrats.

    Yes, analogous to wine bloggers not creating compelling “content,” there are way too many wineries in the world turning out commodity-like, indifferently made product.

    Too little personal pride in their handiwork.

    Sadly, the days when putting your personal family name of a product meant it was the best you could do are over.

    ~~ Bob

  4. Bob Henry says:

    From today’s Wall Street Journal:

    “Social Media Fail to Live Up to Early Marketing Hype”

    Link: http://online.wsj.com/articles/companies-alter-social-media-strategies-1403499658#printMode

    Excerpts:

    “Social media are not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be,” concludes Gallup Inc., which on Monday is releasing a report that examines the subject.

    Gallup says 62% of the more than 18,000 U.S. consumers it polled said social media had no influence on their buying decisions. Another 30% said it had some influence. U.S. companies spent $5.1 billion on social-media advertising in 2013, but Gallup says “consumers are highly adept at tuning out brand-related Facebook and Twitter content.” (Gallup’s survey was conducted via the Web and mail from December 2012 to January 2013. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point.)

    In a study last year, Nielsen Holdings NV found that global consumers trusted ads on television, print, radio, billboards and movie trailers more than social-media ads.

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