Think you’ve got a great website? If you’re not sharing its content on social media – you simply don’t exist. Here's a version of an article written for the Nomacorc blog.
OK before we start here’s a question for you. When was the last time you actually keyed in the name of a wine brand, a wine producer or, come to think of it, the name of any company’s website in to an Internet search engine?
Unless you are looking up a train time, want to buy something specific online or fancy a takeaway we rarely these days choose to go to anyone’s site directly.
Such is the infinite amount of content now available we have become increasingly lazy in how we spend our time online.
We now expect the right content to somehow reach our inbox or pop up on our mobile phone without having to go and look for it.
Yet somehow it does.
Our water cooler conversations are increasingly no longer about last night’s television, but the video of the cat that scared off an alligator, or the surfer who fought of a shark with his bare hands.
All change please
Technology, and in particular mobile technology, has changed the way we all behave. Both as individuals and in business.
We are now all in the communications business. The days when we sat back and waited to be told what was happening in the world are long gone.
Editors no longer determine the news agenda or decide what people will read when and where.
The pace of change has been breathtaking. Twenty years ago only 1% of the global population had access to the Internet or owned a mobile phone. Now 73% of people in the world own a mobile phone and are effectively their own content creators and sharers.
We now expect to have our say, have our voice heard and woe betides any business that does not listen or give us the opportunity to do so.
A recent US survey even claimed half of women polled would rather give up sex than their Internet access.
We are arguably living in the most exciting time of communications since the birth of the printing press.
Do you even exist online?
So if you are a wine company and do not understand how to share content about your business online, and make the most of social media, then you effectively don’t exist in the digital world.
You might have the sexiest, most expensive website in the industry, but if you simply expect people to come and find you online then you will be the loneliest (and probably least successful) wine business in the world.
It is one thing creating innovative content for company websites, the key to effective communications in the digital age is how you then push and share that content out to your potential audience or customer base.
I second that emotion
There are four steps when it comes to creating successful, shareable content online:
If you really want to attract and then connect with people online then you have got to play on their emotions. It is not just those clever folk at Pixar who know how to tug on our heartstrings.
If you want your business to succeed online then you have to come up with your equivalent of a Woody or a Buzz Lightyear.
Your customers, be they existing or potential new ones, are all out there waiting to be spoken to. They just may not know it yet.
It is up to you to decide what is the best way for your business to communicate with them, but ultimately they are all looking for businesses, for services, for information, that makes their lives easier, that entertains them, informs them and helps them either in their personal or business life.
Be it through words, a video, a photograph, an infographic or a full blown business report, they want you to provide it for them in a way that is the easiest to access, participate in, connect with, and, who knows, actually build a relationship with.
Feel the Buzz
If you want to know who is doing this best, then look no further than BuzzFeed. Yes, all those “10 things you need to know” might be crass and vacuous, but they are masters in what they do.
Getting us to stop what we are doing and go straight to their website thanks to their attention grabbing headline, twitter post, picture or video.
What’s more every one of the writers at Buzzfeed has their own analytics model constantly ticking away showing them how many people have read the story, engaged with it, and most of all, shared it with their own communities.
That is why we all end up talking about the same things by that water cooler. Because those clever people at Buzzfeed, and all the countless wannabe website aggregators that have sprung up in recent years, know how to press our buttons with good shareable content.
If you want to become an expert in what sort of content works online then can I recommend you make www.BuzzSumo.com one of your daily reads.
It essentially aggregates all the most read, most shared content online and can be searched by category to reveal which wine stories, for example, have performed the best on social media.
Top of the pile at the moment is a story on latintimes.com with the attention-grabbing headline: Is Drinking Wine Better Than Going to the Gym? According to scientists, Yes!
Which has had 2.6 millions shares on Facebook and 5,500 shares on Twitter.
Or how about “Wine as a bedtime snack helps with weight loss” from vinepair.com which has had over 590,000 shares on Facebook and 1,300 shares on Twitter.
It's the economy stupid
But it is not just the technology that has changed us as consumers and individuals.
The global economic depression over the last seven years has, little by little, turned us in to pensive, cautious, risk adverse individuals. Both personally and in business.
Again technology has put power in to the hands of consumers. Quite literally so with the rise of the smartphone.
Take a look at your own behaviour over the last month. How many times have you used either a price comparison site or a consumer advice site, like Trip Advisor, to help you decide what you are going to buy, where you are going to go or what you are going to do?
As a result of the economic recession we are increasingly looking for reassurance and peer-to-peer recommendations before making decisions in our life. Including sharing content online.
It is why big brands like Amazon and Netflix are now shaping their business model around statements such as “if you like this, you will like that”.
It reassures people that the purchase or decision they are about to make is based on theirs and others behaviour and has been curated by a respected third party.
Used well in business it can be a highly effective way of not only attracting customers, but reassuring them that you are a company to trust that they will return to time and again.
Website content, for example, needs to be less about how great that particular business is, but more about how it is working with its customers to give them a better, more personalised service.
Please, can I play
The same rules now apply with content online. Why take the risk to read something online if it has not been recommended or shared by a trusted third party. We have not got the time to be disappointed.
We would rather take the advice of a friend or a peer than a so-called expert in their ivory tower.
We want to know what’s in it for us, and what’s in it for my friends.
Consumers are no longer happy just being bystanders. An audience waiting to be entertained. They want to take part. They want to join in and have their say.
Again we can see how business and media companies in particular have responded to this changing consumer dynamic.
The traditional radio phone-in has been elevated to full blown TV shows like Big Brother where we the audience decide who stays and who goes.
It is impossible to watch any sort of TV these days without being asked to take part, share our views or have them displayed all across our screens.
We all want our digital “shelfie”
Sharing content online, through social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook, is the digital version of a “selfie”.
It gives us a sense of responsibility, a way of reassuring ourselves that we are able to help inform our own online community.
After all by sharing content online we are also saying something about ourselves.
Look at how informed I am. How knowledgeable. How clever. How well connected. How well loved.
It is why wine is one of the most active subject topics on social media as it allows people to tap in to all those characteristics.
Which is why it opens up enormous opportunities for wine business to connect and engage with their customers like never before.
If you are not already then make sure your site is open for customers to give their feedback through online forums, comment sections, an open blog perhaps.
Then see how they spread the word and invite friends and peers to your site to see what they have been saying.
So if your business is not busy sharing its own content online make sure you are.
And if you really don’t know what to say then you can always just post up a picture of a cute cat.