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How to Make Your Winery More Social

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter continue to unveil new features that can be used by wineries, breweries and distilleries to bring awareness of their wines, brews and spirits to a national audience

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Social media has completely transformed the way wineries market themselves, with more and more wineries experimenting with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube as ways to reach a larger wine-drinking audience. But it’s no longer enough just to be on Facebook or Instagram, you now have to find ways to update your social media presence to leverage all the new features that are available.

Facebook Live

For example, one popular new trend on social media is live streaming events via features like Facebook Live. Hosting a Facebook Livestream is a fantastic way to introduce wine drinkers to the winemakers behind the brand as well as to give a behind-the-scenes look at how a wine goes from the vineyard to your table.

Live streaming has started to take off at food & wine festivals, where it’s a great way to engage both participants and people from across the country that would have liked to attend. This summer’s Aspen Food & Wine Festival, for example, featured celebrity chefs as part of a “live from the kitchen” feature. And some wineries, such as City Winery, have hosted Facebook live streams of performers and entertainers who have appeared as part of special events.

For now, media publications that cover the wine industry, such as Food & Wine, are leading the way when it comes to using Facebook to live stream an event. The advantage a major media publication has over a winery is the built-in audience. After all, anyone can hold up a mobile phone, click the Facebook Live button, and start a live broadcast - but if only a handful of people tune in, and the production quality is not very high, is it really worth the effort? In contrast, major media brands can attract tens of thousands of potential viewers.

Instagram Stories

Another important social media trend is Instagram Stories, which launched in August 2016. This feature gives brands the opportunity to combine a number of photos or video clips into a “story” that can be viewed online by followers of the brand. The important point here is that any Story disappears after a 24-hour period, essentially giving the brand a “clean slate” the next day. And the Stories won’t appear within the regular Instagram feed - they are only visible if you are a follower and click on the profile of the Instagram user, where the profile will be outlined with a colourful circle if a new Story exists.

These Instagram Stories can be used to show unique behind-the-scenes photos of the winery, to showcase special new promotions, or to answer questions from fans in a fun, casual way. One trending hashtag on social media is #WineWednesday, so you could very easily plan to launch a new Instagram Story every Wednesday and include the #WineWednesday hashtag when you promote it to fans.

A few wineries have already experimented with this features. Jordan Winery in Sonoma, California posts new Stories, usually related to food, wine and travel. Travel Oregon, as part of an effort to promote Oregon wineries, has posted Stories from the state’s wineries. And, within the spirits industry, Ketel One was an early adopter, using Stories to describe new drink recipes.

Twitter Moments

These are events curated and compiled by Twitter to show users everything that is current and trending in the globe at any given time. It is like one’s social news feed. One can select from categories like News, Sports, Entertainment, Fun and more.

So far Twitter has primarily been about the 140 character text. Creating a Twitter Moment offers the user a chance to highlight an image as well. A Twitter Moment is displayed with a focus on the image more than the text as it is also displayed in a larger size.

A recent Twitter Moment reported that red wine and hot chocolate is a hot trend. Winemakers could tap into this by showing recipes of how to create this using their wine. Many companies also use cultural days, events and hashtags around these to associate their brand with them. Being part of a popular hashtag lets your tweets come up in search results. But, be sure to be relevant as you create these.

The important point to keep in mind is that all of these new social media initiatives cannot exist in separate silos. It’s best to integrate them, and one easy way to do that is via email. For example, you can promote an upcoming Facebook Live event in the email newsletter that you send out every month (e.g. “Join us next month as we interview two winemakers at our winery”). Or, you can include a link to your Instagram page, with a call-to-action to check out your new Stories (e.g. “Check out our latest Instagram Story for more on our new Pinot Noir”)

As a winery, you need to be where your customers are. And as more people embrace Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it means finding ways to connect with them in new and unique ways.  In 2017, that means an embrace of Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and Twitter Moments.

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