Here at Tincknell & Tincknell we watch – and adopt – new tech, often early, especially that tech with potential marketing purposes. So we’ve been watching and participating in social web marketing, both on our own behalf as well as on behalf of some of our clients for quite awhile now. We also read about it, and read what people in the wine industry think about it.
So, having just read another colleague’s post on social web, direct mail, and web marketing, it was a bit surprising to read that marketer praise the printed page (well, that wasn’t surprising – we love print) but completely dis the “vanity” website in lieu of social media.
Certainly social media has a place in a business’ marketing strategy. What alarms us is that many, many pundits and consultants in the wine industry are peddling it as the form of marketing, and possibly the only form of online marketing a business needs. So what I write now is definitely against the current trend, that huge social media wave consuming wine marketing right now: we haven’t seen de facto, unmitigated success from social media alone. It has added to success as part of a mix of marketing efforts, but not as the sole marketing channel.
What needs to be realized is that social media in the form of Twitter and Facebook is like old-fashioned advertising. Your message is sent out to those that are online, reading at that very moment. If the eyeballs aren’t there and reading at the time you post or tweet, your message is lost into the reader’s timeline stream. Sure, one can scroll down and read old posts and tweets … but how many people log on and back read their Twitter or Facebook stream more than a few hours old at the most?
To be effective as a marketing tool, Twitter and Facebook work by impressions, and the more impressions seen the more effective it is. That is old media advertising. It is new media advertising, too, a la Google Ads, and banner advertising. The number of “ad” impressions on the target audience is paramount to the success of this kind of effort.
Social media preaches mostly to your choir; it is not as effective in reaching new customers. Once a person creates an account on a social website, they often focus on those people or businesses they already know. The 529,639 fans of the Tide Facebook page notwithstanding, most people aren’t willy nilly “liking” any business Facebook page just for the heck of it. (Really? 529,639 actually care enough about laundry soap to post on, and follow Tide’s Facebook page?!? Gah!)
Ultimately, for any marketing effort, the goal is to drive the eyeballs to your winery, a wine shop, into a restaurant … or to your web page – where your message is there, up, online, ready to be read 24/7/365, surrounded by your branding, images, photos, videos, copy (blog), and shopping cart, with nary another brand in sight. Granted, we at T&T are biased – we do design websites – but I would write this even if I didn’t know HTML from CSS. A “vanity” website (terrible term – we prefer business website) provides a controlled message in a branded environment to a visitor at any time or day. It is unique in marketing, since no other “channel” other than a physical building is promoting your message as consistently and constantly as a business website. A Facebook page is nothing but an advertisement in another website; your brand is subservient to the Facebook brand, plain and simple, like an ad that lives within a magazine. Twitter is more ephemeral – most people don’t even use the Twitter website, so any branding done on your account page is likely never seen by most of your followers; they’re using TweetDeck, Twhirl, Seesmic, Twitterific, Yoono, etc., or an iPhone, Android, or webOS app to read and tweet.
Social media seems great – heck, it’s all free, right? – but it certainly should not be your only way to reach out to customers online. A business website is an invaluable, irreplaceable marketing tool, and it doesn’t need to be an expensive website to be effective. It is one of the few marketing efforts, though, that is there with your message and branding when the customer wants it – no hunting through the 2,091 Twitterers you follow to find that discount code you briefly saw three days ago.
For T&T that means social media is part of an overall strategy to drive people to really engage in you, your winery, and enjoying your wines. Social media should be influencing people to come visit, go to your website, refer their friends and family, or try your latest wine at their local restaurant or from a store.
At T&T we have always maintained that all marketing is on the table for discussion, from direct mail marketing to national advertising to the social media. We do feel strongly that social media must be considered in your marketing strategy. But your marketing strategy must be designed for maximum effect based on your budget and branding. Social media through Twitter and Facebook doesn’t replace traditional online and offline marketing; it should be part of a larger, more comprehensive marketing strategy. And please, do consider direct mail marketing! We love the printed page as much as the web page.