As a digital agency executive, I’m always interested to see how businesses I interact with approach social media. I don’t think there is any industry more ripe for social media than the wine industry (“Hello, Gary Vaynerchuk!”). Spending a recent weekend Napa Valley, I was shocked at the lack of social media happening not only for the wineries but for the entire valley as well. The Visit Napa Valley crew is doing an excellent job of using social media to talk about happenings in the Valley, but where are all of the affiliate businesses?
Sure the large resorts and large wineries have some presence, but where are all the other businesses? Boutique resorts, restaurants, transportation companies, day spas, markets and smaller wineries have a huge opportunity to come together and build a voice for the entire valley that will drive visitor and buyer support throughout the year.
For example, I read a stat that of the more than 500 wineries in Napa Valley, 80 percent produce 10,000 cases or less a year. That is the wine we want to buy and typically can’t find it in a store, so how do they sell it to us? Most of these companies rely on tasting room experience to build their mailing list and sales directly to consumers.
Think about the products today that no longer rely on in-store experience to grow and dominate market share.
Amazon is the largest online retailer with an estimated $80+ billion in revenue for 2013.
Fun fact: We don’t need to be in store to experience what we want to buy.
Putting the slight sarcasm aside, there is a huge opportunity here. I’ll use my visit as an example. I visited five wineries on my trip and ate at three amazing restaurants. Six of the eight businesses had little or no social media presence. There is only one winery that has nice digital presence at 3,400 followers. Their content and engagement is pretty good, but being a pretty big brand, with multiple labels and a large presence in the valley this community should be much, much larger. Think of what 100,000 followers, seeing your brand on a daily basis could do for revenue?
The real point here is that I would have engaged with all of the other seven businesses and posted a great review for each if the option was available. Giving me an outlet to share these businesses would have given them exposure to many of my colleagues and friends that also love wine and all that Napa Valley is. Should they have engaged back and continue to provide me great information as a community follower, they would continue to get great exposure to my friends. That is all free, personal, recommendation marketing, which is almost as good as being in the tasting room.
While social media takes time to build (at least six months to one year to produce measurable value with additional paid advertising to move quickly) it can become the number one source of new revenue and following for any business. The average user spends one to two hours a day on social media channels. I won’t bore you with the stats, but buyers absolutely buy from brands they trust and get value from digitally. In addition to our ability to follow and engage with brands we love, social media channels are also the easiest way for us to share what we love. Almost every time I eat out or travel I check-in and post about where I am at. Think about what an opportunity this would be for wineries to thank visitors and even send some interesting information such as tips, insider notes, recipes, etc.
In addition to what individual wineries could do to build digital following, there is a greater opportunity to partner with other local businesses to create an entire experience for visitors and community followers. Leveraging my passion for local, healthy businesses (i.e. myHealthyOC.com) there is even great potential in local partnerships with some of the smaller spas, gyms, healthy food outlets, transportation companies, etc, to create an entire vacation experience that is outside of the large resort model.
Social media and digital marketing are complex and require investment in either experts to do it for you or training to learn how to be great at it. This can be a hurdle for many small businesses, but we also know that this type of marketing is changing the game for all industries and that the time has come to get on board or get out of the way. Business growth is expensive, but done right, social media marketing can be very powerful at a much lower expense than any traditional advertising or marketing to reach your goals and your business’ full potential.
Photo credit: Flickr user Sarah_Ackerman. Used with permission through Creative Commons.