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February 9, 2009

Wine & Social Media?!

The raw product at Backsberg

The raw product at Backsberg

Generally, the mere mention of the two make the old stalwarts cringe with dismay, how would wine and Facebook fit together?

More realistically, I believe we should be asking how they dont fit together. Lets rewind a few days to Tuesday last week. I was fortunate enought to be able to chat with a very laid back, very smart guy from the wine biz. Kleinhoekkloof Wine prides itself on being a small, elite, private wine label which is distributed through a social network of sorts – friends, family, business connections.

So seriously, how many wine drinkers are on Facebook? An exercise at work this week gathered us nearly 500 quality wine drinkers in a week to create conversation with. I know these are the kinds of wine buyers who spend good money on wine. The problem with social media is to incentivise people to interact. Once they have a reason to speak to you, of course its tough to get them to shut up.

Our online presence is really minimal (soon to change) and the media dont know about us in general, as we tick over and grow at a sustainable pace.

The farm which I was at last week, however, was the total opposite end of the spectrum. A renowned wine making/farming family who`s name conjured up images of quality wine, effortless implementation of essential business structures, and a drive for success that can only be described as “legenday”. Weddings, Jazz evenings, world class wines, it all happens here.

I was sitting with one of South Africas better wine bloggers, and a guy who`s quite passionate about eventual integration of a full social media circle into the farm for which he is the marketing manager, namely Backsberg. His vision is to someday, not have to spend a cent on advertising. As long as we are selling ourselves, we might as well do it properly.

His name is Simon Back, and you can find him at the following places:

Blog – The Back Chat
Twitter – here
Facebook – you`re not that lucky.

Simon Back wants to see his The Back Chat Blog and his newsletters as a chief source of quality conversation with his consumers. The age old story of the farm owner, marketer and wine maker being in the shadows are long gone. This year, conversation will be more on the lips of consumers as far as their purchasing decision goes.

This is what I am talking about:

“Oh, I met Simon at their Jazz evening after some discussions with him after I read something interesting on his blog. I mailed him and strews bob bru, he got back to me almost immediately. We spoke about the farm and I am totally all over what this wine represents and understand the flavours and the tastes so much better now”.

There is an inherent trust with someone who you have had meaningful conversation.

The Back Chat blog and their monthly newsletters are ways for staff at Backsberg to create those conversations with potential buyers. Thats where the peer group leaders and the pioneers are, in his opinion, and its far more useful to have direct conversation with them, than have them searching through forums and other misleading information about their amazing wines.

The way he integrates his vision is quite simple and it has a long term structure and he is clear that he is one of the few who believe in this so far, but better to get in early than try playing catch up.

For a large, local and export driven, commercially driven farm like Backsberg, this, to me, is worthy of applause. I share in his vision and I am sure we will share meaningful conversation about this topic in the years to come, and hopefully, look back in 10 years and laugh at how primitive our attempts now are, compared to what we will be achieving with Social Media in the wine industry by then.

I will post a more comprehensive review of Backsberg and its fabulous wines in just a bit….

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