I was recently asked to join a panel discussion on how Michigan wineries can make better use of Social Media at the Michigan Grape & Wine Conference on February 26th. I am definitely looking forward to participating and helping Michigan wineries market themselves better through Facebook and Twitter.
To preview my remarks, I have compiled a short guide to help wineries get the most out of Twitter.
Log into Twitter daily. If you don't participate regularly, you become irrelevant. If someone asks you a question on Twitter and it takes you a week to respond, you have done more damage than not being on Twitter in the first place.
Acknowledge all @replies. If someone has taken the time to retweet one your posts, you should thank them (and make sure you are following them).
Don't use Twitter to solely market your wines. Post interesting facts about the harvest, winemaking, the local area, etc. You want your followers to get value from your posts even if they are not going to buy right away.
Keep your posts to 120 characters MAXIMUM. Twitter limits all posts to 140 characters. To make it easier for others to retweet your posts (and that is the name of the game, isn't it?), give them plenty of room to add the customary RT @yourwinery to the beginning of the post.
Spend 5 minutes every day searching for your winery name and wine trail name on search.twitter.com or your favorite Twitter client. First, follow anyone who mentions you. Second, engage them in conversation. If they said they had your wine for dinner, ask how it was. If they mention that they are going wine tasting, invite them to stop by and recommend a wine for them to try. This builds tremendous brand loyalty and only takes a few minutes every day.
Stop using Facebook to post to your Twitter account. Twitter limits your posts to 140 characters. Facebook gives you an unlimited amount of space to ramble. When you have Facebook automatically update your Twitter account, it stops at 130 characters and adds a link back to your Facebook post. Trust me, no one wants to take the time to click a link just to see you finish your thought. We want links to interesting photos, articles, or sites. If you litter the Twitter landscape with links back to your Facebook posts, we simply stop clicking your links.
If possible encourage your winemaker to create his/her own twitter account. It is cool when a winery thanks someone for mentioning their wine, but is is really cool AND memorable when the actual winemaker takes the time to thank them personally for enjoying a wine he created. Again, you are creating and promoting a brand.
Promote your Twitter page on your website, in your newsletters, and at your tasting room. (I know this sounds obvious, but I know for a fact that many of you are missing the boat.)
These ideas aren't entirely mine. I have picked them up by being active in the Twitterverse and conversing with other bloggers. However, the ideas are critical if you want to build your brand and increase customer loyalty through social media.
Please leave a comment with other suggestions that wineries should heed when trying to connect to their customers through Twitter.