Douglas Green Rides Social Media Tsunami

Douglas Green may be one of South Africa’s oldest and traditional wine brands, but a realisation of the dynamic change in the nature of wine communication has allowed this 72 year old brand to pip its far younger peers in the digital wine marketing stakes.On the social media front, widely accepted as the fastest-growing marketing and communications tool globally, Douglas Green has over 7,800 facebook fans According to Johan Schwartz, MD of Bivio Consulting who was tasked to manage Douglas Green’s social media profile two years ago, this is by far the most populated wine-related facebook page in South Africa.

“Global research into iconic international brands such as Wolf Blass, Yellowtail, Blossom Hill and Gallo showed that Douglas green thrashes these names when it comes to facebook popularity,” says Schwartz. “We have not been able to find a wine presence on facebook outnumbering Douglas Green. Douglas Green can therefore lay claim to being the biggest facebook wine page in the world!

“Is it necessary for a winery on facebook? Well, with over 500m million members world-wide and close-on 3m members in South Africa, rather ask yourself if you can afford not to be a part of this community. As far as population and usage goes, 2010 was the year in which facebook just broke through the surface. This explosion is just the beginning.”

Douglas Green’s other social media interface, the Douglas Green blog, has been equally successful. “In the past year the blog averaged an average unique visitor rate of 7,500 per month, with over 90,000 online users having visited the blog this year so far.”

According to Schwartz, social media is playing an increased role in wine marketing as it provides a diverse range of discussions and topics reflecting the uniqueness of the product known for being multi-faceted.

“No other beverage has as much to talk about as wine, nor as many brands representing essentially one product,” says Schwartz. “Add to this the fact that so many countries, communities and cultures are involved in the making and consuming of wine, and you have the ideal platform for global discussion and interaction, the very reason that has made facebook and other social media one of the most powerful social and commercial forces in history.”

Schwartz says that the key to succeeding in social media is creating relevant content and providing social media users with incentives for their time investment on your brands social media platforms. “The people have shown faith and trust in your brand by pushing that ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+ëlike’ button or visiting your blog. Now you must reward them with relevant information they want to go back to and incentives. For the latter, Douglas Green aims at providing regular incentives through competitions, giveaways and sponsorships, and this has worked in keeping the brand top of mind in the digital community.”

With facebook having beaten of all its competitors and entrenching itself as the world’s leading social media vehicle, Schwartz says that the future will see users communicating through dynamic, facebook platforms and applications.

“With bandwidth becoming cheaper and quicker, expect a surge in video communication,” he says. “Words, typing and pictures are going be replaced by real-time visual interaction, and Douglas Green is already planning ways to utilise this.”

Is print media dead? “Not yet!” says Schwartz. “But through its very nature social media has made it possible for brands to communicate with customers on an intimate and personal level, something one dimensional print and electronic advertising cannot easily do.”

Douglas Green Brand Manager Pieter Terblanche says the decision to invest in online and social media was not born out of a need to jump onto the bandwagon and follow the crowd.

“From the outset we identified Douglas Green as a wine brand with all the intrinsics required to create a dynamic and interactive social media and online presence,” he says. “Through the wines we source from diverse Western Cape regions, the Douglas Green character is able to tell a wide range of stories. As the pioneer of vineyard and wine selection from a variety of top wine-producing regions of South Africa, his foresight in producing quality wines for the average wine consumer who expects wines over-delivering in the price to quality ratio allows for a great story.

“And judging by the success of our social media presence, where we are measured by our visitors, this story is succeeding in forging relationships with customers. And the story has only just begun,” he says.

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