THE BOOZE BIN
By Pia Mara Finkell (@piamara)
Social media is challenging to explain to those outside of the “bubble” of communications, most of all Twitter. The first time I tried to explain it to my father, who just signed up for an email account last year, I tried to simplify things for him. “It’s a place where you can, you know, tell people what you’re doing or thinking, or tell people about what other cool people are doing or thinking, or talk with a bunch of strangers who like the same stuff as you.” I realize I just ended up making Twitter sound pretty darn lame at best and kind of creepy at worst.
It was even more challenging to explain Twitter to clients just dipping their toes into the social media realm, in particular wine and food clients. How can a wine region use Twitter to reach their consumer audience and in the end, sell more wine, the ultimate goal of any wine PR, marketing or promotional campaign?
My advice is to show them the wonderful world of Twitter by giving them a list of the best people in the industry to follow. There are tons of great examples, but in the interest of maintaining the ever-popular list format, here are a dozen of the very best (read: my favorite) wine voices on Twitter, in no particular order, and 5 reasons why they are so successful:
1. @Enobytes: Home of #VinQ wine trivia game & bridging the gap between consumers and wine pros. Eat well, Drink well. Live well.
* Enobytes is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing wine education and appreciation and they are one of the most interesting wine tweeters (twiners?) out there.
2. @dirtysouthwine: Wine Is Meant To Be Crunk!
* Penned by Hardy Wallace, aka “Dirty,” this hilarious tweeter has also been bringing wine to the people via his blog since 2007.
3. @TishWine: I am a recovering wine critic, now devoted to injecting humor and sense into the wine scene. Pairing wine + fun since the 20th century!
* He’s smart (read: went to Harvard), he’s silly (see picture at left) and most importantly, he’s funny. The perfect wine social media trifecta.
4. @KevinZraly: Kevin is the winner of the ’06 Wine Literary Award, European Wine Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and has been featured in the NYTimes, Newsweek and GQ.
* Kevin wrote what many consider to be the authoritative text on wine, “Windows On The World Complete Wine Course” and is one of the most recognizable and approachable wine educators and tweeters.
5. @garyvee: Wine guy, host of Wine Library TV. Video blogger and Businessman that loves people and the hustle.
* Gary Vaynerchuk is without a doubt the most famous and successful wine social media guru. He’s loud, he loves the Jets and he’s made it on Conan. That spells success in my book.
6. @alawine: Drinking wine makes me want to write about it & writing about it makes me want to drink it.
* Ken from @alawine is interesting, informed and very simply, built a cool list of the Top 100 Social Wine Tweeters.
7. @drvino: Author, blogger, educator, all about fermented grape juice, aka wine.
* One of the most interesting wine voices and all-around nice guys, Dr. Tyler Colman teaches me something new almost every day, and has made an appearance on Wine Library TV with Gary V. Not bad for a nice Midwestern boy with a PhD in Poli-Sci!
8. @TheWineWhore: I swallow so you don’t have to spit!
* Who could resist following someone called The Wine Whore? At least he’s upfront about it. He pens a blog, which he describes as “A tell-all wine blog revealing the affairs of Randy Watson as he funds his wine habits by ‘whoring’ himself to the wine industry.”
9. @Catavino: All you ever wanted to know about Spanish and Portuguese wine!
* American expats, Ryan and Gabriella Opaz live and blog together in Spain and are vocal supporters of wine social media, as evidenced by Ryan’s awesome speech at the Wine Future conference in Rioja, Spain.
10. @1WineDude: Musically inclined wine consultant , CSW, bass player, IT pro, and sometimes hiney shaker
* Joe Roberts is witty, smart and one of the most interesting wine writers in the industry. More importantly though, he’s funny.
11. @terroirNY: I’m Terroir Wine Bar And You’re Not
* Funny, tongue in cheek wine and food tweeters behind Terroir Wine Bar in NYC. They are as awesome as Terroir Wine Bar. Enough said.
12. @pmabray: Wine Revolutionary, Chief Strategy Officer
* Paul Mabray, head of the Digital Think Tank for the wine industry VinTank, unleashed a wine social media white paper last May. It’s definitely worth a read.
Top 5 Reasons These Wine Tweeters Made The List:
- Keep it Simple Stupid – They use 140 characters to its max, offering up short but interesting sound bites to turn what can inherently be a very dorky, snobbish topic into something fun, functional and inclusive.
- Funny as hell – Funny people make everything more entertaining, in the wine world, or any other world for that matter. Perfect example: @TishWine is a wine educator, writer/blogger and all around good guy, but what you might not know is that he’s also a budding stand up comic. His humor and irresistible quirkiness have found their perfect home within social media, and his tweets are just plain entertaining. When I asked him why he believes social media is the wave of the vinofuture, he said “It’s digital word of mouth. Social media is favored by mostly young people who don’t rely on traditional authorities to make their wine selections.” Smart guy, that Tish.
- Sniff out the Story – The best wine tweeters have true journalistic spirits and keep their fingers on the heartbeat of the wine industry. They keep their ears and eyes open for interesting stories. @Drvino hit the big time by reporting on the fascinating ethics debate surrounding Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate writers accepting trips.
- “Link it Up” – To quote @GaryVee, adding links to interesting blog posts, pictures, etc. brings tweets to life and makes what can be an inherently boring topic a lot more colorful.
- “Find A Voice” – John Grisham just gave the UNC Chapel Hill commencement speech and offered up some good advice to the new graduates: “Find a Voice.” I believe this advice holds true for people of all ages, especially within the scope of social media. John said it more eloquently than I ever could, so I’ll leave you with his words:
A voice has three essential elements.
The first is clarity. When I was in high school, I discovered the novels of John Steinbeck. He was and is my favorite writer. The Grapes of Wrath is a book I’ve read more than all others. I admire his talent for telling a story, his compassion for the underdog, but what I really admire is his ability to write so clearly. His sentences are often rich in detail and complex, but they flow with a clarity that I still envy. His characters are flawed and tragic, often complicated, but you understand them because they have been so clearly presented.
In life, we tend to ignore those who talk in circles, saying much but saying nothing. We listen to and follow those whose words, and ideas and thoughts and intentions are clear.
The second element is authenticity. Few things I like better in life than getting lost in a good book written by an author who is in full command of his subject matter, either because he has lived the story, or so thoroughly researched it. I read a lot of books written by other lawyers – legal thrillers, as they are called – I read them because I enjoy them, also I have to keep an eye on the competition. I can usually tell by page 3 if the author has actually been in a fight in a courtroom, or whether he’s simply watched too much television.
In life, we tend to discredit those who claim to be what they are not. We respect those who know their subject matter. We long for, and respect credibility.
The third element is veracity. In the past few years, the publishing industry has been scandalized by a handful of writers who wrote very compelling stories of their real-life adventures. These were good stories, they were well written, the voices were clear and seemingly authentic. They sold for big money, they were marketed aggressively, they were reviewed favorably, and then they were exposed for being what they really were – frauds fabrications, lies. The real-life adventures never happened. The books were pulled from the shelves. The publishers were embarrassed. Lawsuits were filed to retrieve the advances. And the writers’ voices have been forever silenced.
In life, finding a voice is speaking and living the truth.