What You See May Not Be What You Get

I was checking my emails the other day and came across an email from LinkedIn with a
request ostensibly from a woman in New York State wanting to connect with me on
LinkedIn.

I have a rule about connecting on social media. I never connect with anyone on any site
until I have checked his/her profile. The interesting thing, when I checked this profile,
the woman said she had been working for a company (local to me in California) since
2017. I am closely associated with this company and know all their employees. I had
never heard of her. So I gave the company a call. They had also received connection
requests from the same person but no one had heard of her either.

The company had called and emailed LinkedIn and had been told that there was nothing
that LinkedIn could do about that. I got a confirmation on that from Kerry Rego, a
consultant on social media. She agreed that there is nothing that can be done through
LinkedIn, although suggested that I send them an email anyway. Perhaps if they get
enough complaints they will consider a change in policy.

Kerry did suggest that if companies are hiring and use social media to check on positions
an applicant has held in the past, they call the companies listed to make sure that the
information is accurate.

I further checked the name and location of the woman who (supposedly) contacted me
and could not find any information on her at all on the internet, except for a Facebook
page that has extremely limited information and no followers. So my guess is, she does
not exist.

It may be nothing important but it has made me more carefully scrutinize the things that
people say on social media pages as it seems that you can put anything on those pages
without being responsible for it being accurate. In which case I am thinking about
adding to my social media pages that I have an IQ that is 10 points higher than Albert
Einstein’s (no, really).

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Make Your Websites More Personal

I have lately spent some time going through winery websites. I do this every few months to catch up on what wineries in different regions are up to.

I have been amazed at how many wineries have no information on their owners and staff. I know that tasting room and other staff members may change regularly so continually changing out pictures can be time-consuming. Fair enough, if all your staff members do not have their photos and a short bio on your website. However, there are things that you can do that can be easily changed if needed.

The First Law of Connection

If you want people to buy your products, join your clubs or come to your events give them the opportunity to connect.

When I am reading ABOUT US sections of websites, they usually contain paragraph after paragraph of “We planted vineyards”… ”We made wine”…” This is our passion”…” We want you to come and visit us.” While this is all very nice, I am much more likely to come and visit you if you have told me who you are. I am also more likely to buy what you are selling.

In order to connect with people, you have to start with their emotions. It is hard to connect with an unnamed, unknown entity and relate to him/her as a person.

To quote John Maxwell, “Connection is not about you but it begins with you.”

What is the first thing you usually want to know about someone to start a connection?

That’s right, their name. It is much easier to get people to give you their names if you have told them yours first.

So imagine reading the website for a business that you may be interested in visiting and finding that the company talks about “we, we, we”, but does not introduce the people who own it or work there.

Take a look at your website and see how you can make it more personal so potential customers will have another reason to connect with you. There is a lot of wine out there to choose from but there is only one YOU!

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Making the Most of Instagram

Instagram has been around since October 2010 and in only seven years it has increased its users to 700 million, which is more than twice the size of Twitter. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and judging from the pictures I have found on Instagram I would say that is definitely true, especially for wineries. Seeing a great bottle of wine, beautiful vineyard or a winery tasting room can increase the desire to visit. Just a quick note: when you take a picture of your tasting room, make sure there are people in it. I see many pictures of tasting rooms that are completely empty, which makes me wonder how popular the winery is.

It’s simple to add pictures to Instagram, though remember that if you can create unique or uncommon pictures and make the description of your post different from that of other companies in your industry, viewers are much more likely to pay attention to your business. There are people involved in every business and viewers are interested in the people behind the brand. Pictures of people tend to attract attention, whether they are customers or employees. A quick reminder: ask permission before using pictures of individuals.

Use different types of posts. You can go from serious to comic, depending on the situation. Use an emoji or a cartoon on occasion, if it fits in with what you want to get across to viewers. People like to laugh. It’s a serious world a lot of the time and giving people the opportunity to laugh can create a bond between them and the company.

Certainly, you can promote buying through Instagram in different ways, some subtle and some not so subtle. Continually pitching may push people away from the posts, so break up the sales pitches with interesting, personal, or funny posts.

Instagram is a great tool and used properly can be a boon to your business.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Creative Content Marketing

These days it is important to business to have new and interesting marketing content, telling customers and potential customers about the products and services they can expect. It’s not always easy to come up with the amount of type of content that consumers are looking for. We can easily get stuck in a rut of doing the same thing. I read many, many emails from wineries presenting their products and in most of the missives I receive there is a sameness to the content.

One of the ways you can make your content different is to have the people who buy your wine and love your brand contribute by creating some of the content for you. Consumers tend to be more interested in hearing what other consumers think about products. According to Bazaar Voice, which specializes in user-generated content marketing, “64% of millennials and 53% of boomers want more options to share their opinions about brands.” Additional studies show that consumers are more likely to believe user-generated content more than other media.

Ask for information and testimonials from your customers and display the information on your website, in emails or through social media. Let potential customers know how your customers feel by using their own words through your marketing avenues.

Sign up for a monitoring service so you know when and where your products, company or key personnel in the company are mentioned. Then respond to the consumers who mentioned you.

Be ready to answer questions or complaints and keep track of all your social media so you know what is being said.

Use more pictures in your messaging to customers. Show pictures of your customers using your products and couple that with a blurb from the customer saying why they buy and use it. Visual content encourages consumers to purchase and brings them to the buying process much faster.

It’s important, too, that you are seen through different channels. According to Bazaar Voice “Consumers increasingly are moving back and forth among mobile, PC, tablet, and in-store experiences seamlessly during their shopping process. 73% used multiple channels during their shopping journey.”

Keep current and potential customers interested in your company and your products by keeping them involved in active as well as passive ways.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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How well are you tracking your social media?

While distributing information to your customers and potential customers through social media is important, it’s also important to know how the people that you are reaching are reacting to what you have to say. Are they paying attention to your posts or tweets and passing them along to others or do the posts just disappear?

Know why you regularly posting on social media: to become more engaged with your customers, to gain more publicity for your brand, to attract more customers, to sell product or to present your customers with reasons to buy from you. Keep a list of goals handy, to keep you on track.

To discover whether or not you are successful, track your social media posts to see where they go after they reach your audience. This can be accomplished through tracking keywords that relate to your company or products.

Track your brand or company name. Know who is talking about your company or products and why. Whether it is a complaint or a compliment, a response to the person who responded to the post will positively affect how they feel about you. It is easier than you think to turn around a complaint by paying attention and doing everything you can to sort out the problem either on- or offline. Tracking your brand or company may also give you more information about questions that customers are asking each other, or whether there is talk about your products.

It doesn’t hurt to track your main competitors also. It helps to know what they are doing and how they are being perceived on social media.

Track key employees through their own sites and through what people are saying about them. In the wine industry, you know how important the winemaker, the owners and even the people in the tasting room are to many of your best customers. They feel connected to these people and will be loyal to the brand because of them.

Track industry keywords to see if your brand, company or products are being mentioned in the broader industry by consumers who may be looking for the type of product you produce.

Social media may not cost a lot when compared to print or electronic advertising but if you are going to be successful it does take time to do it right.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Social Media – External and Internal

Are your employees following the company on social media? If not they should be. Social media is a great place for employees to get reminders of the information or offers that you are broadcasting to customers.

In the days before the internet took us to worlds we had never anticipated, it was common in business that employees (especially part time or occasional employees) were not up-to-date on what was going on as far as specials or events were concerned. It was not unusual in the wine business when wineries were doing AVA-wide events and selling tickets for these events that customers would visit a winery asking for tickets and the person at the tasting bar would tell them that they didn’t have tickets for the event. This is just one example of how information is not been disseminated to everyone who needs to have it.

As part of the dissemination of information, encourage your employees to follow the business Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, etc. In fact, you may wish to make following the business social media mandatory, just as it’s mandatory that they read memos and other information relating to their jobs.

If you are an employee, it is going to make your job easier if you know what is going on in the business. In most consumer-oriented companies, customer specials, events, and other customer oriented information can be hard to keep up with, so being aware of what customers are seeing on social media will help you remind customers of things they may have forgotten. Not to mention helping you with sales. You can keep up on what customers are thinking, and whether they are happy or not. Also, keep track of any personal mentions you may get. It doesn’t hurt to know how many customers have appreciated your help, especially if you are hoping for promotion or a raise in pay.

Be aware of everything that is happening in your business on social media. It will keep you at the top of your game.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Getting Heard Through an Overcrowded Medium

Don’t you love the Internet?? Well sometimes you might (when an order comes in from an email you sent out) and sometimes you don’t. However, if you are looking to make a splash on Facebook, for example remember that there are 50 million small business Facebook pages. So you have some competition.

When I typed in the search engine “popular social media sites” one of the top search results was a post from 60 second marketer.com, “Top 52 Social Media Platforms Every Marketer Should Know.” So before you go to that site, how many can you name?

The Internet, email, social media, etc. have changed our world both personally and in business in ways that we would have never thought possible. And every day there are new things coming out that are changing it all again. There is no time to stand still.

As a business, you have to be aware of the next new thing and choose to adopt the ones that will enhance our businesses, products and abilities. For example, a company creates a Facebook page to introduce information about the products, service and business. Now just putting the information out is not enough, you also need to be involved with social monitoring (also called social listening). It is equally as important that you know what is being said about you as well as what you are saying.

Also important is social response, where you respond to people who make comments (good and bad) about your business or products.

Content, of course is still king.  Is what you are writing about interesting, amusing, targeted towards you readers? People enjoy stories and stories make a stronger impression. Good stories sell; by buying your products, especially in the case of wine (or especially a case of wine) buying the product will make them happy. Sometimes your customers need to be reminded of that.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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