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Virginia Wineries – What are your social media expectations, really?

Back in March I wrote an article entitled Social Media: Do Virginia Wineries Get It?‘ that started the discussion of how Virginia wineries are/are not using social media to connect with customers and to build their brand.  The response from the post was overwhelming and unexpected, resulting in a couple dozen comments from Virginia wine consumers, bloggers and Virginia wineries.

Given the response to the article, I subsequently posted a four-part series that featured Virginia wineries actively engaged in social media, in varying degrees, to connect with consumers.  The four-part series featured Breaux Vineyards, Corcoran Winery, Doukenie Winery, and Bluemont Vineyards:

After a recent conversation with a winemaker about social media expectations, I felt the need to revisit this subject to solicit opinions from other Virginia wineries – What do you want from your social media efforts.  What is your expected return for time invested?

During our conversation, my winemaker friend told me that he/she had no clue as to why their winery was engaged in social media (Facebook, Twitter) other than the fact that other local wineries were engaged.  Needless to say, this response surprised and confused me.  Are wineries seriously devoting considerable time to Facebook and Twitter with no clearly defined expectations, or solely because other wineries are ‘doing it?’  Are there other Virginia wineries engaging in social media for similar reasons?

Virginia wineries – What do you want from your social media efforts.  What is your expected return for time invested?

Despite this one person’s lack of direction ;) , it’s interesting to observe how opinions, level of engagement, and approaches to social media have changed in recent months.  I suspect the level of engagement has increased for many reasons, including – increase in overall social media awareness, realization that social media provides a low-cost way to connect with consumers, more blogger engagement (maybe), and perhaps the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference as well.

Wineries like Mountfair Vineyards, Gadino Cellars, and Keswick Vineyards have really stepped up their social media engagement – rarely a day goes by that each of these wineries are not engaged in Virginia wine conversation on Twitter.  As an adjunct to taking an active role on Twitter, each of these wineries, along with many others, have been very supportive of Twitter tastings and other Virginia wine tastings.

A great example of this new level of engagement is Mountfair – the very first Virginia winery to host a live tasting event via Twitter.  Regardless of how subsequent tastings are labeled – taste live, twitter taste live, taste Va Wine online, or whatever – Mountfair lays claim to being THE first!  Big props to Jacqueline, Fritz and the team at Mountfair for taking this initial big step!  (read recaps of the event at Swirl, Sip, Snark, My Vine Spot, and The Other 46). Other wineries like Keswick and Tarara are embracing social media in others ways like blogging as well.

Editorial Note: Rather than giving away wine for all of these online tastings, the key is to have an online tasting wherein Tweeters/bloggers ‘purchase‘ the wine in special discount packs (This experiment is coming… stay tuned… ;).  To the best of my knowledge, Lenn Thompson at NY Cork Report is the first to try this.

All of this Twitter activity and willingness to support online tastings is great, but I still wonder – What exactly are the wineries expecting from Social Media? I ask this question purely through the lens of a curiosity seeker.  I ‘think’ I know what wineries want, but am curious to hear directly from the wineries.

Coming Friday:  Recap of ‘Introduction to Virginia Wine‘ tasting in Sonoma, CA.

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