On CBC radio drive-home shows across Canada yesterday, we discuss how social media is changing the way we discover new wines and share them with others.
You can also watch this Google + video hangout that I did with the Californian-based wine consultant Paul Mabray several years ago on Digital Darwinism for the Wine Industry.
The concepts have aged well and still hold true now.
Pairing Wine and Social Media: Engagement in a Glass of its Own
Morgan: Next up we’re talking about wine. Wine can be an intimidating thing. Social media though maybe changing all of this. Natalie MacLean is a wine critic and editor of nataliemaclean.com Canada’s largest wine review website and she joins us on the line. Hello!
Natalie: Hi Morgan!
Morgan: Hi, so tell us a bit about wine and social media and how they are overlapping?
Natalie: I think wine is almost the perfect category or product for social media. You can stay at a very high level and just share what you were drinking last night … to taking a deep dive, info wise, into “Hey what was that vintage?” or those soils or all of those different levels that are there for you on social media. The other thing of course is that wine has traditionally been a bit of a stigmatize category where we’re reluctant to ask questions for fear of feeling foolish. With social media, you have that extra cloaking device of not being right in front of the liquor store staff or the sommelier in the restaurant and being able to ask a question with a bit more confidence.
Morgan: So how do you think social media has changed the way people are interacting to wine? They’re making braver choices online but how is that translating into the everyday?
Natalie: With social media I think it’s bringing more people to the table who have more confidence sharing a bottle that they enjoyed recently or taking other’s recommendations. I think the important difference between social media and in person interaction or even using search engines is that it’s all about trusting personal recommendations. You’ll find out about a great bottle of wine from a friend or a friend of a friend … so it’s about discovery. You didn’t know where to search for that wine in the liquor stores, you didn’t know what to ask for it in a restaurant or you didn’t know what to put in the search engine but someone told you about that wine. Social media is all about discovery, unexpected discovery versus an intended search.
Morgan: So how do you use it?
Natalie: Well as a so-called wine critic/expert, I think that social media is by no means replacing the traditional role of the critic but it is morphing, it’s changing it. As someone who evaluates hundreds, thousands of wines a year, I use it to reach out to others who are influencers … sommeliers, new wineries or bloggers and so on. I’m not trying to reach everyone through social media because I think a more effective use of social media is that more personal conversation versus just a blast to everyone. I find social media incredible for making new connections with those that I call “first-line” influencers. We’ll actually find each other in social media because if you use the hashtag #wine or #Shiraz, you could quickly find each other and then in turn your recommendations may flow out to their followers as opposed to trying to reach thousands at once.
Morgan: How much can you get from a tweet like saying “Oh! This Shiraz taste good.” how many words can you fit in? How much do you need?
Natalie: Well exactly 140 characters but you can start a conversation and a less intimidating one because there are restrictions on length. I think more people feel they don’t have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of wine to participate so they can say … “Well you know I like this Shiraz, what other Shiraz would I like?”. And they know they have to keep it short because the medium confines it … Twitter or Facebook. So I think that engages more people and makes it less intimidating versus raising your hand in a wine class or asking a sommelier. I think that’s a really good thing.
Morgan: Alright and so if somebody wants to start learning about wine or start doing this through social media, what would you advise them?
Natalie: First, they should follow me on social media.
Morgan: Shameless self-promotion.
Natalie: I welcome everybody. I engage most frequently on Twitter so it’s just @NatalieMacLean and my website is nataliemaclean.com . Other things that you can do are … do a search on hashtag #wine or if you have a favourite wine #PinotNoir. Be a lurker for a while, stay in the background, watch the conversation, see what’s happening, see how people are talking. Then you can start to interject yourself into the conversation and become more of a full-fledged participant. You can create curated lists if you have a specialty kind of wine or region, where you just follow the people who talk about that a lot. Then gradually build your confidence. It’s a marvellous thing.
Morgan: Alright and tell us the latest wine you’ve tweeted about or discovered via Twitter?
Natalie: You know I’m tweeting 24/7. It’s warm weather and especially for long weekends and holidays, I love a chilled Rosé. I love those from Provence and Southern France or the Rhone Valley. It’s a bone-dry Rosé that I will be drinking tonight, from Tavel, the region Tavel, Perrin and Fils is the name of the winery.
Morgan: Alright, thank you so much for joining us.
Natalie: Alright, cheers Morgan!