THE BOOZE BIN
By Laura Petrosky (@chronic_ally)
The wine harvest, at least in the good old days, is a truly collaborative effort. The participation and collaboration of many is the only way to get the job done during harvest season. On the web, this is called crowdsourcing. Many folks in the wine industry pat themselves on the back if they crowdsource the name of a new wine or label design on Facebook. But is this really all the social community can do for wine brands? Or, maybe, is this all we marketers let them do?
After listening to a recent episode of “TED Talks” on the Power of Crowds on NPR, I am convinced that many PR folks have yet to discover the true potential of crowdsourcing and letting innovation happen through the wisdom of a crowd.
Here are three truly inspiring TED case studies on the power of crowds. While they are not related to wine, they show that crowds can accomplish amazing things if you give them a platform:
· Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir: Inspired by a Youtube fan video of a teenage girl singing one of his compositions, classical composer Eric Whitacre had the idea of a virtual choir. He posted the conductor video and music to a new composition on his blog, encouraging singers from all over the world to post their tracks singing the composition on YouTube. Hoping for 50 collaborators, Eric ended up with 185 videos of twelve countries and merged the individual tracks into a virtual choir singing Lux Aurumque. His second crowd sourced virtual choir reached 2,051 singers from 58 countries (!) and can be heard here.
· Lill Hjonnevag’s Melodic Protest: When Anders Behring Breivik admitted to killing 77 people in Norway in 2011, he blamed a popular children’s song for “brainwashing” the country’s youth. Norwegians had been singing the song, “My Rainbow Race,” for decades, and grad student Lill wanted to give a positive meaning back to the song she grew up with. Her idea: Use Facebook to get a crowd of 100 people together in a central square in Oslo and sing the song together. After one week, 10,000 people had RSVPd to the event and Lill found assistance from a Union leader through Facebook to help coordinate the logistics of the ever-growing event. On April 26, 2012, a total of 40,000 people came together in song, amongst them the famous songwriter.
· Marcin Jakubowski’s DIY Tractor: We always think of crowdsourcing as something magical happening online, but Marcin has been using the power of crowds to help change the physical world. By publishing open source blueprints for 50 industrial farm machines on a Wiki, he helped create instructions on how to build these machines cheaply from scratch. His Wiki attracted engineers, farmers, grad students and handymen from all over the world who came together in the “real world” during project visits, developing easy DIY instructions to build anything from cars to tractors with simple tools and without any required engineering knowledge in as little as one week.
Some brands, like Middle Sister Wines, have already trusted their online community with more than just voting for their favorite wine label – they dared crowd source their newest wine blend. Online conversations with fans of their 74,000-strong Facebook page guided the creation of their newest red table wine, Sweetie Pie. But it doesn’t have to stop there. What would happen if winemakers from all over the world came together in a crowdsourcing project to experiment with new varietals? Or if we encouraged wine lovers to put their tasting notes on YouTube to create a video library of consumer-generated tasting notes? I think the possibilities are (almost) endless. We just have to trust the power of crowds.
I agree with social media guru Clay Shirky: “Historically, we have overestimated the value of access to information, and we have always underestimated the value of access to each other.”