Blogs, Wine Blogs and Communication

A few days ago I had the privilege of giving a short talk in front a number of wine industry types hosted by Inertia Beverage Group. The topic was "Blogs, Wine Blogs and Communication". A Texted Up version of that talk is reproduced below.

BLOGS, WINE BLOGS & COMMUNICATIONS

The ways by which we communicate to friends, family, colleagues and the market are expanding on a near daily basis. One particular form of communication that you need to be aware of is the Blog

For those of you unfamiliar with blogs, let me briefly explain. A blog is a type of website that publishes new information or articles on a regular basis, often on a daily bases. Each new entry goes to the top of the page with earlier entries descending down the page in reverse chronological order. Most blogs are created to speak to a very specific topic and most blogs are the simple act of a passionate individual who has an abiding interesting in a particular topic. However, more and more blogs are being written by real authorities in the field. For example, Inertia Beverage Group maintains a blog on selling wine direct. Eric Asimov of the NY Times maintains a blog on wine. A number of political celebrities maintain blogs. And some simple folk have become famous after publishing their blogs and gaining a real audience for their ideas.

History as Communicating More Easily and To More People
The number of blogs exploded after online software was created that made the development of a blog incredibly simple. If any one is interested in creating your first blog, you can be up and running in about 10 minutes. If the creation of the Internet killed the dominance of the pulp-based media, the blog is killing the dominance of the mainstream media. And all of it relates to lower barriers of entry.

Let me explain what I mean by that.

It’s entirely legitimate to understand history as the ongoing process of technology allowing information to be communicated more easily. For example

The Wall paintings of Lascaux (effective communication, but not very portable)

Stone Tablets (more portable, but not much more)

Scrolls (now we are getting somewhere: real portable, but they hard to reproduce)

Bound manuscripts (more information, but still hard to reproduce)

Gutenberg’s press (mass production of with relative easy of transport)

The Newspaper: (Standardized News Deliver, Portable, Ease of production)

Radio (Very portable and easy to produce. Also, it results in pop culture as millions of people hear the same thing)

Telephone (Quick, easy, one on one communications anywhere, anytime)

Television (The world becomes one as people in Europe can see and talk to people in America)

The Internet (images, audio, video, text, personal communications and marketing converge)

All of these technologies allowed information to be communicated more easily, by more people, and all resulted in a new media of some sort, a media that reached more people in more places.

But here’s the thing, in terms of being a part of these new media, the barriers to entry for all these communication technologies are pretty high for the average person. That average person can’t own a printing press, radio station, or television station. Even creating the standard web page demands a significant amount of technological expertise.

The Rise of Egalitarian Media
But then comes the blog. Combine the ease of creation of the blog with the power of search engines and Internet information aggregators and all of a sudden, everyone has a printing press, everyone has a television station and everyone has a radio station. Now, all of a sudden, everyone is on fairly equal footing when it comes to being part of the media.

Millions of people are taking advantage of the new age of egalitarian media. And for those who are really taking advantage of this new technology, they are finding that people are reading, responding and being influenced.

It’s a whole new ballgame and marketers need to be aware of who is playing the game and what the game means.

BLOGS & THE TREND TOWARD PERSONALIZATION

Blogs fit into an important cultural trend that you need to be aware of. A trend that is gathering speed at a pretty swift pace: The tendency of people to personalize and compartmentalize the media they consume. Technology today allows individuals to design their own, personally created, information stream based on their own very specific interests. For example:

Tivo: People are watching what they want to watch when they want to watch it.

i-Pods: The album is dead. People are creating their own playlists that reflect interests and moods

Internet Aggregators: people are having Internet services deliver very specific categories of information to them based on very specific interests. This information is coming in the form of text, video and audio. People are more and more getting up in the morning and reading exactly the kind of news they want without having to wade through a sports section or the business section or the fashion pages to get to what they want to know.

In other words, the source of media authority is fragmenting. People are no longer satisfied or relegated to getting their view of the world from CNN, the NY Times, the local paper and one or two talk radio stations.

BLOGS & THE WINE INDUSTRY
The Wine Blog is one of these new information sources that people are paying attention to on a daily basis and using to shape their worldview. And their numbers are growing as well as their influence.

A couple examples for you on how blogs are affecting the wine industry:
Some time ago I used my own wine blog to write about something called the wine pod, a home winemaking apparatus that is controlled via computer.  People read about this new piece of technology, forward links to my page to their friends and followed my link to the website of the Wine Pod. Within a few weeks this unknown company had scores of people on their waiting list to buy one. And it hadn’t been released yet.

A few days ago, Eric Asimov, the NY Times wine writer, wrote about a client of ours at Wark Communications. Eric wrote about our client not in the pages of the NY Times, but in his wine blog. The result was readers could simply click and go to our clients website, where large numbers of folk did go and signed up for the winery’s mailing list.

RadCru, the sell-one-wine-a-day website, is another example. Days after launching, RadCru was covered by a blog called “Daily Candy.” The mention drove thousands of people to the RadCru website where they bought a lot of wine. Daily Candy is a something that no one knew about two years ago. Today, it’s helping make Radcru a success.

Today there are about 350 wine blogs out there. About 10% of these have a significant audience that is loyal and appreciates the kind of candid, non-mainstream wine information they are getting from them. The number of wine blogs is going to continue to grow, and so will their influence.

My message to you today is simple: take account of the wine blog. Wines being reviewed and written about by wine bloggers are being bought and talked about by a lot of people.

How many people? Today, for example, my blog, Fermentation, attracts an audience of about unique11, 000 readers per month. This time next year it will be in the neighborhood of 18,000 readers per month. This time next year the most popula
r wine blogs will find 60,000 to 80,000 readers per month reading their recommendations and articles. 

And here’s the thing: the vast majority of these readers will very interested in what wineries and wine-related companies have to offer. That means you need start communicating with these wine bloggers in a professional and appropriate way the same way you have been communicating with the mainstream wine media.

It’s in your interest and it’s going to help you sell more wine.


5 Responses

  1. Paul Mabray - August 16, 2006

    Tom’s speech was one of the best of the seminar – I HIGHLY recommend you hire him to the same – it was EXCELLENT for our wineries and even our staff. He is definitely a leading voice in this industry.
    Inertia – Powering the Wine Revolution
    —Paul Mabray – CEO

  2. Lenn - August 17, 2006

    Tom…nicely done. Nice intro to the technology and the power of blogs…
    Wanna come to New York and get some of these wineries up to speed? 😉

  3. Bret Lyman - August 17, 2006

    Great article Tom!!!
    Please notice the Don Sebastiani & Sons latest foray in to the world of podcasts.
    I call them films.
    http://www.donandsons.com
    enjoy!!!

  4. thebizofknowledge - August 20, 2006

    I stumbled across your blog while I was in the process of doing some online research. Many novices to the world of wine are relying on blogs to get their information of this subject, making the blog world the next best thing to the knowledgable guy in the wine section of the local liquor store.

  5. Nice - October 22, 2006

    Nice look

    Nice


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