Social Media & Marketing in the Winery

In today’s competitive marketplace, consumers have an astonishing number of wines to choose from. Social media helps make sure yours stands out from the crowd.

Getting Started with Social Media

Rebecca Ritz is the owner of Bauerhaus Design, an Illinois based branding and web design firm that specializes in serving wineries and other businesses providing luxury goods or services. She says a key element of creating an unforgettable brand is building strong relationships. Social media is a great way to form those relationships, since 1.59 billion people use Facebook each month and millions more are active on other social networking sites. “The more people feel like they know you, the owners, and the staff, the more likely they will be to buy,” Ritz said.

If you’re just getting started with social media marketing for your winery, the sheer number of sites available can seem overwhelming. How do you choose between Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube? Ritz suggests selecting just one site to start your social media outreach and working on making your presence in that particular site as engaging as possible. “The first step is to analyze who your target market is and which of the social media platforms target the same market,” she said. “For example, many Baby Boomers are on Facebook, while there are more Millennials on Instagram. You do not need to be on all social media channels, but you do need to be committed to posting quality content that people will like and share. Start with one platform and do it really well before moving onto to others.”

Anatomy of a Successful
Social Media Post

Once you’ve decided which channels to focus on, Ritz says you should strive to do at least one of five things with every post:

Inform. Educate your customers about your wine or share information about your key employees.

Inspire. Share positive wine-related quotes, talk about your winery’s charitable work, or suggest a recipe customers can make with your wine.

Entertain. If it suits your brand, share funny wine memes, jokes, or behind the scenes videos.

Discuss. Start a conversation about current trends or your favorite food and wine pairings.

Engage. Get followers to share their favorite products from your winery, vote on new names for an upcoming wine, or enter a contest to win a prize.

Other Tips She Recommends Include:

Be visual. Share engaging photos to promote interaction with your followers. For example, you could post a photo of several different wines and ask which options your fans prefer.

Add hashtags. Use hashtags to your advantage by promoting your #YourWineryName or #Slogan by piggybacking on fun trends such as #wineoclock or #tbt (Throwback Thursday).

Link back to your website whenever possible. Social media’s popularity is growing, but your website is still the center of your marketing spider web.

Don’t forget the call to action. Create a call to action by asking your users to join your email list, vote in a contest, or RSVP for an event.

Be consistent. Use consistent messaging across social media and the rest of your brand material. Think of your social media accounts as extensions of your brochures, business cards, or other marketing materials.

Noble Vines Strives to
Connect without Overwhelming

When you’re developing your social media strategy, the last thing you want your winery to do is spam your followers. Even content that’s relevant and interesting can be perceived as annoying when it pops up in their social feeds several times per day. “Our social media strategy at Noble Vines is about sharing lifestyle content that educates, informs, and inspires our followers,” Alexis Traverso, digital marketing manager, said. “Currently, we are active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Our goal on each of these channels is to post a steady stream of content while remaining cognizant of the platforms’ algorithms and without over-inundating our followers’ social feeds.”

When asked what types of content was most successful at engaging followers, Traverso stressed the importance of visually appealing posts. “In all that we do, we strive to share visually stimulating content that captivates our followers,” she said. “A bottle shot is a bottle shot, but a stop-motion video that depicts the flavor profiles in our 446 Chardonnay helps us not only communicate, but engage with our followers. We partner with the agency Cordial Media to ideate, create, and execute across platforms.”

Traverso believes that social media is just as important as having a website, email address, or phone number when it comes to marketing and branding your wine. “We know that social media is deeply ingrained in our consumer’s daily life, so why not take advantage of this powerful tool and make the process of selecting and enjoying wine a little easier for them?” she stated. “While sometimes complicated and difficult to manage, we consider our generation of wine marketers very fortunate to have social media as a means of communication.”

Whitehall Lane Winery
Creates Authentic Engagement

Located in Napa Valley, Whitehall Lane Winery uses social media as a tool to educate customers about their brand. “We’re active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest,” Katie Leonardini, vice president of operations, said. “Our posts strive for consistency and to convey a sense of our brand. We’re educational, but fun.”

One tactic that’s been useful in helping Whitehall Lane Winery build engagement is running quarterly giveaways. “We can’t legally give away wine in a contest, but we run promotions to reward loyal followers with other types of branded merchandise,” Leonardini explained. “We’ve never needed to buy followers because we have a high rate of authentic interaction. For me, it’s especially interesting to see how our social media lets us interact with people who live outside of Napa Valley and love our wine.”

Leonardini stresses that social media is here to stay, but encourages other wineries to keep working on refining their marketing strategy. “Our social media strategy is always evolving,” she said. “As we learn what works, we adjust our approach to gain the respect of our followers.”

KC Wineworks Builds a Rapport by Highlighting All the Community Has to Offer

KC Wineworks is the first winery to establish a presence in Kansas City’s historic downtown Crossroads Arts District. Their 5,500 square foot urban winery is located in a building that dates back to the 1920s and is surrounded by an eclectic mix of art galleries, live music venues, housewares shops, and local businesses.

KC Wineworks is active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They aim to post on all three sites once or twice per day, sharing a mix of relevant product updates, behind the scenes info, fun facts about wine, and humorous wine-related memes. However, marketing and tasting room manager Lindsay Clausen has noticed posts about their unique location tend to attract the most interest. “While posts about food are always very popular, our posts about local news that’s relevant to the Kansas City area generally attract the most engagement,” she said.

For Clausen, the key to social media success is building a genuine connection with customers. As a family owned and operated winery, KC Wineworks manages their social media in house. Clausen gets notifications throughout the day and strives to answer any questions or like comments as soon as possible. “Like most people, I hate commercials or feeling like I’m being aggressively sold a product,” Clausen stated. “I like having a conversation, not being talked at. With our social media, we’re striving to build that authentic relationship with local wine lovers.”

Jasper Winery Uses Social Media to Connect with Wine Loving Brides

Based in Des Moines, Iowa, Jasper Winery is a smaller winery with a limited paid advertising budget. Since social media is free, with the exception of the occasional paid post, they rely on their company accounts for event promotions and to raise overall brand awareness. “Social media lets you connect with customers where they are,” Katie Bradshaw, tasting room and events manager, said. “Our goal is to make it easy for them to ask questions and get the answers they need, so we’re at the top of their mind when they want to make a purchase. We also encourage people to tag us in their posts or check in when they arrive, which helps broaden our reach even more.”

Although Jasper Winery is active on multiple sites, they’ve found unexpected social media success via Pinterest. “We’re active on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, but I’ve found that we gain a real value from Pinterest,” Bradshaw stated. “Weddings are a large part of our private event business, since we host 30 to 35 per year. We use Pinterest to create boards that act as a resource for brides, offering color schemes and decoration ideas as well as a chance to see what our space looks like when it’s fully set up for a wedding reception.”

One tip Bradshaw has for other wineries looking to promote their business via social media is to connect with local photographers. “We highlight lots of images to increase engagement,” she said. “Some are simple iPhone shots, but others are professional images of our products and our space taken by local photographers. Partnering with local photographers is mutually beneficial way of increasing your social media visibility.”

Solitary Cellars Finds Success
Sharing History via Social Media

Solitary Cellars builds a connection with its customers by using social media to spread awareness of its unique back story. The company was founded in 2014 by Greg Bergersen and Rick Quesada, corrections officers at Valley State Prison in Chowchilla, California. They play up the prison-wine connection with the “Solitary Cellars – Wines Without Restraints” tagline, a wine club called the Chain Gang, and a North Block Tasting Room that’s decorated to reflect their shared 45 years in law enforcement and corrections.

“Our social media strategy is a learn as we go concept,” Bergersen said. “Social media is a new concept in advertising and therefore the regulations and laws are constantly changing for those of us who sell alcohol. Currently we are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Yelp. We also have a blog through WordPress.”

As a smaller winery, Solitary Cellars hasn’t taken the step of developing a formal policy for interacting via social media. Bergersen says they simply strive to be polite and courteous, answering all inquiries quickly and addressing any negative feedback honestly. He states that respectful communication is crucial to the brand, due to their connection to the law enforcement community. “Although we are proud of our work in law enforcement, we are keenly aware of the current trends and attitudes towards law enforcement officials,” he stated. “Our posts have to take into consideration these trends.”

Boosting Your Bottom Line Through Effective Social Media Marketing

Although it can often be difficult to measure your rate of return on your social media posts, Ritz stresses that time spent on social media marketing should be considered an investment in the future of your business. Having a strong social media presence cultivates a lasting relationship with your customers, creating loyalty that’s difficult to come by via other means.

“There is a marketing adage that says it takes seven or more touch points to make a sale,” Ritz said. “With social media, wineries reach that touch point much faster than traditional advertising.”