November 29, 2011

Steve Heimoff Jumps the Social Media Shark . . . again

There is no question that Steve Heimoff is a professional, extremely successful wine writer and critic.  While I respect his decades of industry experience, his continual statements about the value of social media are not only ignorant but seemingly motivated by his desire to generate more web traffic to his blog.  His obsession with the medium is not surprising, considering that online continues to erode traditional print publication and is evolving more quickly than ever in history.  In fact, it constitutes a tremendous percentage of his blog posts (#2 only to wine).  But what is grossly obvious is either his complete inability to grasp the transformational change of social media or his desire to evoke the ire of the Blogosphere/Twitterati/Facebook natives. A classic case of “flaming.“  After all, attacking the social ecosphere makes for good headlines and significantly increases the visitor traffic to his blog.  His most recent blog post about social media and PR was the article that really clinched it for me, requiring me to step into the ring and declare that the “emperor has no clothes.”

It is no wonder that Steve is confused by social media.  It defies definition.  It is a content distribution channel, a customer service tool, a business intelligence gold mine, a public relations sandbox, a marketing channel, a business development well, a mass communications channel, and yes, a sales vehicle.  It is all of these and none.  It is truly the internet realizing its true potential.  The real Web 2.0.  What also makes it challenging is no one platform defines social media.  It is not Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, WordPress, or Foursquare.  It is all of them and more.

However, Steve intentionally refuses to see the multifaceted complexity of social media.  He  instead continues to “jump the shark” by downplaying the value of social media and refuting its value in sales, PR, marketing and more.  He over simplifies it as nothing more than a vehicle to “enable everyone to communicate.”  For such an intelligent man and solid writer,  he often succumbs to the laziness of generalizations and hyperbole.  I imagine Steve as perpetually living in the “Trough of Disillusionment” in the Gartner Hype Cycle, living there comfortably before the “Technology Trigger.”

Steve’s most recent blog post is supported solely by arguments that are reminiscent of the 1990′s.  I feel as if I have been transported in a time machine to the days of Wineshopper.com, when I was equally as glossy eyed and ignorant.  Phrases like, “I just don’t sense the excitement, the breakthrough gee-whiz breathlessness that accompanied social media 2008-2010. In that little window of time, social media seemed to be the be-all and end-all of winery P.R. and marketing, the magic bullet that would overturn traditional forms of publicity and replace it with an online revolution in which anyone could participate, more or less for free. Heady stuff, for a winery on a budget.”  Where does he come up with phrases like this?  Where are his facts?  I can tell you differently with REAL numbers.  In the last three years, the wine industry went from virtually zero wineries actively participating in social media to over 3,500 US brands using various forms of social media (that is approximately 1/2 of our industry).  Almost every major enterprise wine group has started developing social media departments (reinforced by one of his own posts).

Back to the point.  The gist of his post is about the intersection of PR and social media and how it has not proven to be the panacea for transforming PR.  Actually, that is incorrect.  The facts demonstrate quite the opposite.  PR, especially winery PR, has been a dying department for decades, as information overload barrages our senses and the internet disrupts the notion of “served media.”  The consumer is in control of finding the information they seek,  without the interference of the gatekeepers of traditional press.  PR has devolved from an incredibly important function of Public Relations to Publicity and Press Releases.  Nowhere has this been more true than the wine industry.  Chasing critics and wine writers like Steve has been the sole obsession of our industry.  So many wines, so few media outlets.  Even when the internet was revolutionizing content portals for all other industries, the wine industry lacked a Huffington Post, Mashable or Techcrunch to disrupt the traditional wine magazines.  They were allowed to be complacent and in fact, are no where near other traditional publications that have reinvented themselves to meet the needs of this new medium (imagine a Wine Enthusiast iPad app that could deliver relevant content a la Wired . . . probably more of a pipe dream than anything that will ever materialize).   Social media has transformed that.  It is an access point where there are no gatekeepers and a connectivity that allows true thought leaders to flourish.  It is also the first time in history that there is MASS two way communication between brands and their constituents.  The most equipped to handle (both in training and in time due to their diminishing perceived value) this activity was public relations.  So yes, this is absolutely transforming PR and yes, any PR representative that is not on the bandwagon will be relegated to the pasture to deal with their “relationships.”  What I mean, is that PR professionals that have friendships with Steve Heimoff and other incumbents will always have a place in Public Relations.  There is no substitute for a real relationship.  But the reincarnation of Public Relations that is occurring is a direct result of social media.  Moreover, the role of Public Relations is bigger, more comprehensive, and more relevant than ever in the history of the profession.  Earned media . . . that is the goal and that is the forte of true public relations. I can’t wait to share my thoughts on this topic during the class on Friday.

So Steve goes on to dismiss social media as a sales channel.  What is a true sales channel anymore?  Advertising?  The days of the Nike “Just Do It” era are long dead.  We are barraged with so much advertising it has become little more than a cost center.  Public Relations?  This arena has always been a soft “spray and pray” channel hoping for that one good article that hits at exactly the right time to the right audience.  Direct mailing?  If we get .05% to 3% conversion we are incredibly happy.  Email marketing? We are at an all time high of 2.9% at the best benchmark of conversion.  Events?  How many events convert to direct sales?  Even the traditional wholesaler “ride alongs” are laborious efforts with often little to no return.  Steve has NO experience selling wine and doesn’t understand that a successful brand utilizes all of these and reaps the meager returns to aggregate the sales efforts that help make it profitable.

Furthermore, it is critical to understand that although social media is a one to many relationship, the sales occur on a 1:1 nature.  It is more like the telephone than an email blast.  It is more like a person across the tasting room bar than a mass mailing.  Every meaningful interaction is still personal and one on one, and is exactly how wine has been sold for generations.

When Steve talks about the lack of success in social media for sales (and marketing) he ignores some major elements.  First, the US wine industry lags almost a decade behind ALL other industries in our focus on the internet as a whole.  I challenge him to show me a plethora of successful digital campaigns by wineries as a whole.  In fact, I challenge him to name more than 20 major online campaigns from our industry.  It is no wonder social media campaigns have not been identified as successful, there are very few companies even trying them.  However there HAVE been few concentrated efforts against social media that illustrate our intent to continue to leverage this important channel.  However, there are some shining examples of  success for both marketing and sales:

  • Stormhoek – the forgotten innovator of combining wine and social media that fizzled not because of social genius but of business mismanagement: http://money.cnn.com/2007/08/07/technology/wine_marketing.biz2/index.htm
  • Murphy Goode – the greatest wine industry social media PR success story: http://mashable.com/2009/04/28/a-really-goode-job/
  • Cahors – A little known but strongly social campaign, the regional association of Cahors launched a successful stealth social campaign that increased US awareness of the region and increased US sales despite the difficulty in finding the products.
  • wine.woot.com and Nakedwines.com – These are both e-commerce sites with strong social features (remember when I said social media is not one platform, it is also on e-commerce).  It is common knowledge that wineries and wine makers that interact on these platforms have SIGNIFICANTLY more sales than those who don’t.  Sounds convincing to me.

Steve particularly dislikes the notion that Twitter sells wine by making statements like, “Now, I got my butt kicked all over Twitter for saying that Twitter can’t really help wineries in the only way they want and need to be helped–selling more wine. Some people tweeted the usual BS that I’m a dinosaur who doesn’t get it (interesting that these people who say I don’t understand social media don’t get a fraction of the readership on their blogs as I do! Not to mention my Facebook traffic which also is big)”  and “But how can a winery get buzz going? Can you think of a single instance? I can’t, and I’ve been watching this scene for a long time.”  This brings me to my last statement about sales with a focus on Twitter.  What Steve fails to mention is that tons and tons of sales are being generated on Twitter for wineries.  No mass coupon redemption nor campaign that converts thousands of orders in an hour but single sales to new customers, to existing customers, to restaurants, to retailers, to importers and to wholesalers.  The sales are not actually (or very rarely) occurring on Twitter but often after the fact via phone, email, or an in person meeting.  Wineries finding new customers one by one, with orders of varying magnitude, exactly as if that winery had taken the time to pick up the phone and call these same customers.

Social media is still evolving (here is a great video to glean better insight into the future) and we are still in the early days.  His position as a thought leader and pundit increases his responsibility to understand things before making statements.  He does more damage to the industry and to wineries by trying to dissuade the wine industry of the value of social media and Twitter. To me this was a seminal moment to just tell Steve “ENOUGH.”  Social media is doing great things for the wine industry, we just need to learn to use it (all facets of it).  Wineries that learn to understand social media (and digital in general) will have an incredible competitive advantage vs. those who still continue to throw bad money after good using the playbook from the seventies.

I am disappointed that Steve will not be able to attend Rusty Eddy’s class on Winery P.R. at U.C. Davis (you can sign up here).  The digital future is now and I am hoping that many of the students will walk away with a better understanding of this brave new world.

  • Jo

    I’ve got to get you two together… a couple of my favorite people, both doing great things, and could/work well together for better understanding and benefit for us all…

  • http://www.vtwinemedia.com/ BurroBoy

    Paul,
    Thanks very much for the cogent response.  I get the feeling that Steve may need to do more homework, otherwise he puts himself in an awkward position:

     ” My own feeling–and that’s all it is, a feeling, because I have no empirical evidence to support it–is that the social media thing may have peaked when it comes to winery P.R. I just don’t sense the excitement, the breakthrough gee-whiz breathlessness that accompanied social media 2008-2010.”

    Maybe some empirical evidence would be a good idea?  Sure the initial excitement may have peaked, but my limited experience has been that people are actually getting down to the business of figuring out how the tools can work for them, how this new set of mediums allows them to interact with existing/potential customers, as well as defining what ROI on the process means for them.

  • Anonymous

    DON’T FEED THE TROLLS

  • http://www.facebook.com/pmabray Paul Mabray

    I agree Jo, I do look forward to meeting and breaking bread with Steve.  I respect many things about him but have difficulty with his comments about social media and bloggers.

  • Carole Loomis

    I am no longer in the wine biz but I am in the ecomm and social biz – this does a great job of demystifying and debunking. Thanks, Paul!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pmabray Paul Mabray

    I agree – I think the Gartner Hype Curve is demonstrative of the current perception of social media.  Most of the industry is in the trough right now (mostly due to our lack leveraging digital tools) but other industries have moved into really securing value and understanding from the benefits of social media.

  • Anonymous

    All you have to do is look back on Steve’s post about why Gary Vaynerchuk is overhyped or irrelevant or whatever it was.. Guy clearly doesn’t get it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pmabray Paul Mabray

    Sage advice.  My goal of the blog post was more about debunking the assumptions about social media and how it performs less than other channels.  Hope I succeeded.

  • http://www.suburbanwino.com suburbanwino

    No doubt that there are lot of folks not maximizing utilization of social media tools (listening on Twitter vs. pumping out content, for example).  Furthermore, I would suspect a good portion of folks are hammering all the tools, but not crunching the data to create some form of success metric.  To this end, social (namely, Steve’s example of Twitter) effectiveness can be just as cryptic as broadcast tv or radio advertising. 

    But why would the marketers NOT go where the customers are?  1 in 2 Americans on Facebook.  100 million+ twitter users.  Not every winery (or any business, for that matter) is going to take advantage of these tools.  Somebody is, however, and once he figures it out, there’s a huge, engaged audience ready to listen… and promote.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SonomaWilliam William Allen

    I wish I had time to dig up the many many stats that exist on the bennies of Social Media in other industries, who unfortunately light years ahead of the wine industry with digital tools, as you often espouse. I posted a comment on his blog:….”That’s good, but what does it have to do with selling wine? Not much.”

    Neither does PR or branding either, and thats what Social Media is,
    another tool kit in the quiver of marketing in public relations.
    Its not THE strategy, its PART of an overall integrated strategy.

    I love when a naysayer stands up in a conference or one of my
    seminars and says HOW DOES THIS MOVE CASES. Its especially great when I
    know they spend 100k on a Wine Spectator ad, and ask – what was your ROI
    on that? No answer, there isn’t one…its an inherent part of branding.

    BUT you can actually, if you have a clue what you are doing, perform
    SOME measure of success with tools like Google Analytics campaigns and
    more…there is no fool proof impression to transaction tool, but
    certainly far more than flipping through magazine pages.

    I think there maybe spots in my upcoming SSU seminar on integrating
    Social Media intro Traditional. Both are needed, neither are dead. Run
    from anyone who claims either.

  • Tom Wark

    With regard to PR, I’d only throw the following into the mix: If I were a winery, would I prefer to have a prominent recommendation from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Wine Enthusiast or the Wine Spectator……or would I prefer to have 2000 followers on Twitter and 2000 friends on Facebook.

    Here’s what I know for a fact: The former will sell more wine than the latter. It was like that in the early 1990s and it’s like that in the early ’10s.

    It’s all about authority and audience.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pmabray Paul Mabray

    Tom, here is where I have to disagree with you.  Yes, those publications with a “recommendation” do move more wine but you are not doing a fair comparison (NYT vs 2000 Twitter followers?).  Here is what would be fair: A New York Times article or 876,638  (est daily circ) followers that have an affinity for wine.  I would definitely choose the latter.  The article is only for one day but, if I do my job right, the community development and interactivity with my brand with the Twitter followers lasts longer and performs better.

  • Tom Wark

    Paul,
    All we need now is an individual winery that has 876,638 followers or friends or a combination thereof. I think the winery with the most twitter followers has about 35,000.

  • http://twitter.com/winotone winotone

    I dare say social media would move more cases and expose your brand to more potential consumers than any ad in any of his print publications. Until the traditional PR folks realize that there is more to PR these days than sending out three press releases a month and hoping someone prints them, they’re not gonna get it.

  • Anonymous

    Tom W:

    You’re with the Old Guard, we know, but the either/or comparison you draw is a straw man bordering on becoming a red herring {8^D.  Paul is not dismissing working to get listed in print pubs.  He’s pointing out how much more effective wineries would be if they did a better job utilizing the various social media channels. And you just don’t get it if you think Social Media, as Paul points out, is just adding to likers and followers.  A fleeting mention in the NY Times etc. can help a bit, for one brief spike of a moment (and the odds of getting “prominent” coverage are daunting when you look at the huge quantity of wines out there).  But creating loyalty and engagement are vital to our times leading to more wine sales if employed well.  SM can do this in spades.  Just ask vintners like Jeff Stai.

  • Tom Wark

    This isn’t a completely fair description of what PR folks do. In fact, most of what we do is not public. We pick up the phone. We shoot off emails, we pitch stories, we remind the media and influencers that our clients are doing this or thinking that. We organize events. We write…A LOT. And yes, we tweet, post and comment.

  • Wandering Wino

    I had a chance to briefly discuss twitter with Steve in person earlier this year. It was just us, so no public forum. In my conversation with him, he struck me as a very genuine man, and very sharp. Steve said that he is on twitter, but more or less gave it up, as he didn’t have the daily time dedication. He was quick to ask for my view as well. I know he still uses it to tweet out his new blog posts. What does that communicate?

    Steve posted something on this very topic maybe three months ago I’m guessing. As I recall, Steve mentioned no sales associated with twitter. I had just done a wine blogger wine trade. I drank a bottle of VA Viognier based on twitter, and mentioned it in a comment of Steve’s blog. Social media score!I believe simply based on his fairly unique positioning, as both a pro wine writer, and his own blog, he is in a difficult position to see/understand social media.Steve is a famous writer and people will find him anyway. Social media helps him more then he thinks in leading people to his blog. I found this cool blog from Facebook. Social media +1. Lets say without social media he gets 10K readers. Add twitter and then he has say 18K. Purely numbers I pulled from the air, but is this something he would notice and attribute to social media, or his gaining popularity? People like me need social media. Steve doesn’t, yet it still helps him, no matter how much he realizes it. 

  • Tom Wark

    Tom:

    For being one of the “Old Guard”, I’d say I do a pretty decent job of utilizing new media and social media not only for myself but my clients. Also, I’d never suggest that there is no value in utilizing Social Media channels. However, as Paul and I believe Steve too pointed out, it is a channel that respects and expects a much more personal approach. I’d also point out that despite what anyone says, it is extraordinarily difficult to raise one’s “followers” and friends to a critical mass. That takes LOTS of time and effort. It pays off in ways that are different than pitching stories and using traditional PR tools.

    Anyone who does not do a thorough investigation of the ROI associated with participating in the Social Media/Digital realm where wine is concerned is likely to make a huge mistake in the allocation of their time and resources.

  • Martin Cody

    Paul-
    There are so many factors at play here, Steve’s age, career, experience, “old school vs. new school”, channel newness, goals, etc., that for him to actually try and assess the impact of Twitter is ludicrous at best and embarrassing at worst.  Twitter as a sales tool, advertiser, content sharing medium etc., is barely out of the womb let alone mature.  There are new communication mediums surfacing all the time which enhance the one element I think Twitter does very well and is absolutely mandatory for wineries to recognize: communication.  Customer engagement requirements haven’t changed with technology, but certain technology makes customer engagement easier.  The merchant still needs to be in front of the consumer in some capacity.  Is it more valuable for that capacity to be the WSJ, NYT, Spectator or Advocate as Mr. Wark suggests?  Maybe.  Is it more advantageous to have the exposure via Twitter?  Maybe again.  I can easily defend both yours and Tom’s point, as a coveted mention in the Old Grey Lady certainly has merit, as do 2,000 followers.  The winery desires exposure and connection with their target audience and Twitter is an unprecedented tool for this offering both remarkable convenience and cost justification.  
    The internet is obliterating traditional industries– publishing, movie production, auto shopping, travel agencies, home-shopping and of course print advertising.  You are very correct in pointing out Twitter is just one tool.  The need for customer engagement hasn’t dissipated in hundreds of years and won’t for the next hundred years.  Twitter as a customer engagement tool is incredible and those businesses choosing to view it as a fad do so at their own peril.
    Thank you for another great article emblematic of the quality and passion for which you’re known.
      
    Cheers,
    Martin Cody

    p.s.  How badly do you think Henry Wrinkler wishes society finds another idiom?

  • http://twitter.com/hkremer hkremer

    I agree with your reply 100%!  The intention to use social media only to drive sales is short-sighted.  Brands on Twitter are there for customer service and branding (and of course broadcasting).  However, by engaging with people, the winery has become an entity, or a ‘friend.’  I met @winebratsf on Twitter over 3 years ago, and call her my friend.  When she endorses a brand, I listen to her.  I trust her opinion and wine knowledge, and she has a large base of influence (as do many other winetweeps).  While hard data may be hard to capture on how many sales take place as a result of “relationship branding,” there is certainly enough to show the alternative would be bleak without social media.

  • wblake gray

    Wow, that’s a lot of verbiage about Steve Heimoff! He must be really important.

  • Anonymous

    Tom,

    I did not intend to imply that you don’t use SM in your battery of techniques to promote your clients, just that you don’t consider those avenues very effective .  Since the ROI yardstick is central, I would wonder how you PR types do in selling vino or even generating “prominent” coverage for specific wineries (this must be in your client pitch folder). I also think other industries should be probed for their success (or failure) stories in this ongoing debate. To be con’t.

  • Andy

    What is really funny is that a few years ago I attended Rusty Eddy’s class at UC Davis and Steve was a presenter…

  • http://www.1winedude.com 1WineDude

    In my experience, the premise behind this post is sound, though I’d argue it’s a touch harsh on Steve. I’ve never known Steve to discount social media entirely, only to say that it doesn’t seem to be working for wine particularly in generating sales.

    My response to that has been, generally, that 1) wineries and PR are doing it wrong and 2) it’s a fool’s errand to think that the wine biz will is somehow so special, so distinct from EVERY OTHER type of business that the social and economic drivers that have made social media so big (and have generated sales and brand buzz for companies in so many other industries) won’t impact it. 

    You’ve elucidated #1 quite well in your post! :)

    As for #2 – well, would anyone reading this put real money down on the fact that the wine biz is really *that* different from other industries, fundamentally? I certainly wouldn’t do that – not in the long run, anyway, not after privatization and free market make more inroads into it.

    I know of some producers who ONLY use social media to sell their wine. They are small production, and so can get away with one or two channels like that – but the point is that we have real examples of where it’s happened.

  • http://www.1winedude.com 1WineDude

    Tom – it’s not the volume, it’s what the brand does to engage the most engaged within that volume of followers. Treating it like a numbers game is assuming that it works the same way that those magazine or other channels work – and we both know that social media doesn’t work that way.

  • Tom Wark

    Joe:

    Believe me when I tell you that I am a believer in Social Media. But believe me too when I tell you that earned media at large circulation media like dailies and key magazines result in immediate sales and long term name recognition and repeat sales. That said, yes…a well conducted and engaging SM campaign can pay significant benefits. I’ve filled up rooms at events using only Social media. And I’ve helped clients sell wines using targeted SM campaigns that were built on relationships and brand building via social media. But it is absolutely critical to consider the effort necessary to build a following in the SM sphere that will result in the kind of direct and downline sales one achieves via earned media built on media relaltions/PR. The smart firm with the resources will use both tools…and others. Steve’s seaming dismissal of social media is not that at all. It’s a recognition that the original bloom is off the rose and the work necessary to make it work may not have the kind of ROI many wineries need in order to invest in the SM toolbox.

  • Finkus Bripp

    The use of Social Media in the wine industry has peaked? I’d call it more of a “weeding out process”… seperating the good from the bad and quite often, the ugly – and let’s be glad this is taking place. The best is yet to come in my opinion.

    Does Social Media sell more product? For some it does:
    the one’s who know the value of brand building as well as direct communication and
    are able to execute it properly. That was never an easy task, even in
    the “old world”. Today many people are experimenting because they’re
    able to… and realizing it’s not easy. Just because I know how to use a
    pen doesn’t mean I’ll be able to write a good book. And we all know how many bad books are out there.

    Quality content ruled in the past and it still does today. The old world scenario: the
    publisher published, the writer wrote, the designer designed, the
    printer printed, the photographer took pics and so on… today, it’s not uncommon to find individuals capable of doing all of these things by themselves – one person armies so to say. Some
    are better, more professional and creative than others but the fact is, those who can handle multiple roles and do it best will reach their readers/consumers, regardless of the industry… and without any “gatekeepers”.

    The fact that a healthy mix of classic and new/social media are still important  today can’t be denied… but the fact that new/social media will only keep gaining in importance (as well as complexity) can’t be denied either. And there will always be those more successful at it than others.

  • http://www.1winedude.com 1WineDude

    Tom – sounds like you and I are mostly in agreement there.  Right now, you have to use multiple channels in most cases.  As far as the bloom being off the rose – we are seeing people disillusioned that SM didn’t result in the immediate sales and recognition that other channels can provide; in that case, I’d say the bloom isn’t off the rose of SM’s potential at all, it merely shows that those people had expectations that are totally out of line with reality (go figure! :) .

    As Gary V. once told me, “if you do this sh*t right, it sells; I wouldn’t be bothering with any of this sh*t if it didn’t sell wine!” 

  • Aella

    I sell wine for a living to a lot of people who enjoy social media and those that don’t know it exists. The one that don’t know it exists seem to have more money.

  • zoeldar

    Good thread and discussion, and yes, a tad harsh on Steve H…coming from Tech/.Retail, it is obvious that the Wine Biz has eons to go to become sophisticated in SM utilization – and it won’t help sell mediocre wine.  Most companies/industries learn, over time, that social media is yet another tool in the Marketing box, and probably way-underutilized at the moment.  But it’s not a panacea for all ills, but rather a good tool for certain things.  And it is growing in importance – wineries can choose to continue perfecting their “buggy whips”, or embrace change and invest in the future of engagement and community without having a clear analytic of the payback – such is the nature of progress…Sooner or later, you’ll realize the train has, in fact, departed the station. 

    Z

  • Bill Smart

    Thanks for the convo guys. This is really good stuff.  I’m learning a lot these days about how my field (PR/Marketing) is changing.  Sometimes I think I am not keeping up fast enough – things change so quickly.   At any rate, if I were to simply the conversation of SM vs. traditional PR, I’d like to suggest that things haven’t changed that much.  What I mean to say here is that at the end of the day, isn’t business (any business) about relationships?  I’d say that how we engage and relate has changed dramatically (SM) but relationships are still the backbone of any business.  People are always saying – well how does SM move CASES?   That’s kind of a silly question in my mind.  For example (I am going to play a what if game here) – what if I meet someone on twitter who happens to be a national buyer for a large retail chain?  What if we become friends and go to a basketball game or something when I am in his or her market?  What if, after a year of building a friendship, this buyer decides to put 3 or 4 of my wines into 150 of their stores they buy for?  Doesn’t that move cases?  This is all theoretical of course, but my point is SM and other forms of interaction are about building relationships and developing trust with people.  A final thought here – relationships are about integrity and very few people in any business have integrity these days.  (Joe, Tom and Paul of course are excluded from this list – they are good dudes).

  • Jeff

    Paul,

    The only issue I have with your post is the first sentence; “There is no question that Steve Heimoff is a professional, extremely successful wine writer and critic.”   I was under the impression that he currently only writes and critiques about “coastal region” California wines.  He is a CALIFORNIA wine writer and critic.

  • Rsaikowski

    Wine marketing is multi-faceted, not just Social Media. Those using Social Media are predomanently not those buying the wines. Old fashioned advertising like “word of mouth”, print advertising, radio, and TV are still in vogue, but Social Media is slowly inching its way into our lives. Facebook is probably the biggest and easiest facet of Social Media followed by platforms like http://www.localwineevents.com and Snooth’s multi-faceted approach. The laws in selling wine over the internet must be simplified to make this approach realistic. HR 1168 being considered by the US Congress will completely kill that aspect of Social Media. Tweeting is a small part. Will Social Media become the 1,000 pound Gorilla in the wine advertising media. Possibly for the better distributed wineries, but not for everyone due to the inabilitiy to get the wine out for anyone to enjoy!

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  • http://twitter.com/VineBuzz Rich Reader

    I wouldn’t confuse Steve Heimhoff with Arthur Fonzarelli on water skis.  Mr. Heimhoff’s myopia lies more in his focus upon the enjoyment of wine sans considerations for how one chooses to make wine-acquiring transactions.  He purposefully ignores the benefits of social media in the latter instance, because it is the part of wine from which he would prefer to be disassociated.

  • http://twitter.com/VineBuzz Rich Reader

    I agree with 1WineDude that wineries are doing it wrong.  They think that social media is an advertising billboard, rather than a medium in which one earns their chops by the value that the contribute to the community or to a particular taste tribe.  Getting sales results from participating in social media is an art of relationship development and reputational merit that brings in results.  Social Media is part of the media mix that makes business successful when the components are blended/orchestrated strategically, rather than being viewed as substitutes for each other.

  • DavidVino

For Your Continued Enjoyment...

June 16, 2011

Why we abandoned Scvngr . . . and you should ...

One of our jobs is to find technologies that will help the wine industry succeed. ... more

June 10, 2011

#twitterdrinkupgrade made easy by decantr.com...

Nearly two weeks ago I posted how Twitter seemed to have a weak playing field... more

June 8, 2011

Tastevin – Release the Cruvee API Krake...

For the last couple years Cruvee has been building an engine intended to be a... more

June 3, 2011

What is VinPass?...

Over two years ago we wrote about the intersection between wine and social media.  Through... more