It is the newest gig in town, shake an old oak tree in the winelands and nine so-called social media experts fall out of it, each claiming to drive your winery or brand into the stratosphere. No, these folk aren’t all created equal. This is my check-list when deciding on one to use:
1. Wine knowledge: In this industry, social media practitioners need to have an above-average understanding of the topic they are wishing to become involved with, namely wine. Everyone else at the winery or cellar lives, breathes and eats wine, and so should you. Know your varieties and their origins. Be conversed in the principals of wine-making. Gain a love and respect for vineyards and soils…. Non-negotiable. Although the social agency might have propelled a brand of mouthwash to new heights or made that haemorrhoid lotion an indispensable part of any house-hold, it don’t mean nothing if they don’t know wine and know it well.
2. Up to date: This refers to the above, but it is worth stressing that a social media type has to know what is happening in the wine world in general, as well as the position the client is wishing to hold in that space. As a media consultant of this ilk, you have to take the lead in commenting on current issues, new trends, occurrences, happenings – all this on behalf of the client, whose vital social media arm you have become. When considering an agency or practitioner, don’t be shy to screen them on wine knowledge.
3. Be present: Your agency will visit your winery or farm once a week for on the spot photographs, posts and to check what the hell is going on. Those who say they can do everything via scheduled posts from the office or coffee zone as long as the reception girl or assistant winemaker Whatsapps a picture a day, are blowing themselves as well as the client out of the water. Social media is that: social. They have to be there to make your audience aware.
4. Voice is King: Content is riding around on a white horse. It is still present, but no longer King. This title goes to Voice. The style of the words and pictures representing a wine client must be a reflection of the style, tone and voice of the client. It is no use building a twitter and Instagram campaign using city hipster slick lingo and graffiti-tattoo images if the client is a conservative Afrikaans winery out in the platteland. Social media has made the world and society transparent, and your bull-shit will be exposed. And it won’t be you that takes the flak, but the client. This is when Oom Sefaas, chairman of the board, moers you with a koeksister.
5. Ability to speak and read Afrikaans: A lot of comment and talk on wine is done in Afrikaans, the lingua franca of the South African wine industry. Plus, Afrikaans-speakers represent the single largest group of wine purchasers in South Africa. So although you might not have to drive your social media campaigns in Afrikaans, you have to be able to understand the conversation around wine that is happening. Much of which is in Afrikaans.
6. Be social: This means your consultant can’t live behind a phone thinking that they do not have to converse to people. Social media consultants have to be feisty, upfront journalists who don’t mind shoving a smartphone in a winemakers face and confidently asking questions on the development of tannins in the current harvest. Nerds are an essential part of information technology, but for social media their role is restricted to repairing your phone.
7. Results: Oh look, 283 494 views, a gazillion re-tweets and seen by 584 influencers. Suck my Samsung Galaxy. What did all those hits, likes, views do to engage potential consumers and what did they do in elevating my brand profile, manage my reputation and make my product desirable? Facts and graphs don’t tell this – I can do that through Hootsuite myself. Your responsibility is to interpret the activity and tell me that the road you and I are embarking on is the correct one. We’re partners, right?