The forever doubting, Mr. Steve Heimoff, had another blog post about social media. I will let you read it here if you choose. I actually do not visit his blog, ever, but Paul Mabray from Vintank posted it on Facebook and I was stupid enough to bite.
Here’s my issue with Steve Heimoff (and all his posts relating to social media) and anyone else (businesses included) that does not believe in or think that social media is a valid place to spend time:
You are looking at it wrong. You are looking at social media the same way people looked at the very first personal computers, phones, or email…who would want to use that and how could that possibly help business? What’s more interesting to me is that people involved in traditional advertising think billboards and phone book ads are even remotely better than social media or at all accurately trackable (this is a word now, right?).
Can you accurately tell me how many people have come into your tasting room or purchased wine based on your billboard?
Can you accurately tell me how many people have come into your tasting room or purchased wine based on your phonebook ad?
Can you accurately tell me how many people have come into your tasting room or purchased wine based on the ad you placed in Wine Spectator?
Can you accurately tell me how many people have come into your tasting room or purchased wine based on the wine event you poured at?
My point is simple; I do not believe that any numbers are 100% accurate, or even close to 100% accurate.
If you are looking at social media as a place to sell, I think you’ve already lost. I understand why you don’t like it. Social media is a way to connect with people, connect with like minded communities online, and sure, brand awareness. In business, nothing works quite like relationships. So if you’re focused on what “follower number 2,135” will buy from you then you lose. “Follower number 2,135” is Bob Jones and he’s married to Carol and they love Cabernet Sauvignon. Bob engages with your brand on Facebook and you rarely respond to him directly…would you ignore him if he called your tasting room? Would you ignore Bob if he were IN your tasting room?
This is why I keep going back to the importance of culture. The world of business, for most of us, has shifted more than we even fully understand yet. It’s still shifting. The thing most people can agree on is that business as usual isn’t working as well as it once did. We see that people, human beings, want to talk to other people, other human beings. They want to build communities, share information, and help each other. People want to get recommendations from others and give people some of their own recommendations. People also want to engage with the people behind the brand names.
In other words, people want access and they want access to everything. If that’s not your game, you will lose. If you want to put up barriers to access those people will go to a winery (or other business) that is granting access. Social media is not sales. Social media is building the relationships that most of you build in your tasting rooms. In essence, your tasting room is now the Earth, rather than the 1,000 square foot building you physically pour wine in.
Just as people want access, you (the winery) have access too. With this access, this two way street of openness, you must tread lightly. If your focus is the sale, you lose. If your focus is being helpful, funny, or otherwise adding value, you are building brand awareness and loyalty. By the way, brand awareness and loyalty (relationships) result in sales…period.
Is it trackable?
For the most part it’s as accurately trackable as billboards, phone books, and magazine ads. There is just no way to have 100% accuracy. This area (analytics, metrics, ROI) in social media, digital, online is getting better all the time…but look how long billboards have been around…and you still can’t tell me how many bottles of wine your billboard sold…can you?
Although I respect Steve Heimoff’s opinion and what he’s done in the wine world, I simply don’t think he’s looking at it the right way. Some of the comments on his blog post were excellent and show far more intelligence than my above ramblings.
So where do we stand? You’re always going to have believers and non-believers…in every topic on the planet. How to plant an Iris, how to wash your car, or how to do laundry…opinions have been around forever and I don’t see that letting up anytime soon. There were believers of email from day one and others that thought it was the dumbest shit on the planet…fine. Who won that one? Actually, this isn’t about winning and losing…it’s about being aware. What’s happening in business? What’s happening in the market? What’s happening amongst your target market?
If you can’t make something work for you and your business goals, screw it, let it go. On the other hand, if you learn the culture and understand what certain tools are doing and how they are being used…jump in, join the conversation that is happening whether you choose to be there or not. Someone already has or is about to mention your brand in the social media world…whether you are there or not it does make a sound. It would be mighty kind of you to answer the call.