The Danger of the Wine Industry’s Reliance on Social Media

I’ve been a member of the Facebook community since 2007. Since that time, every client I’ve worked with has also been a member of Facebook. I’ve made sure of it. In fact, it’s hard to imagine why a wine industry firm would not be a member of this gigantic community where targeted messaging and branding can be done in a nearly unprecedented manner.

Yet, today, looking at the actions and power of Facebook, I can’t say I would recommend joining and using Facebook:

AUSTRALIA TOOK A STAND AGAINST FACEBOOK—AND GOT SILENCED
NY Post…

It’s worth noting that Facebook just removed the ability of every Australian Facebook user from posting or linking to any news article:

Rather than continue negotiations with Australia regarding paying for the news content circulating on its platform, Facebook decided to pull up stakes. Within hours, the company announced it would “restrict publishers and people in Australia” from sharing or viewing news content. This restriction was also global — Facebook users the world over would now be prohibited from posting links from Australian news publishers. In other words, a sovereign national government attempted to assert itself against Facebook. And in response, Facebook canceled the country.

If Facebook is willing to cancel an entire country, why wouldn’t it cancel your page and remove you from the thousands of followers you’ve accumulated for your wine biz over the past decade or so? (That’s a rhetorical question).

It is becoming readily apparent that businesses cannot assume that the various social media services they use to disseminate information and news can be counted on to be there for use. This, in turn, raises the question, to what extent should any business rely on various social media services to market and promote their products.

It’s true that Facebook is a public company and can choose to include or exclude any user or sets of users it wants from its platform. It may restrict how any user or set of users utilize its platform. Yet, it strikes me that certain social media platforms have become so tightly integrated into so many people’s lives and businesses that today they serve as much as “utilities” (like power, water and airwaves) than they do as simple private companies offering a service.

As utilities go, Facebook, Twitter and Google are more like airwaves than water and power supply. Sure, we can live without television and airwaves. It would be a life-defining adjustment but it could be done. We can’t live with the burden of having to source and supply our own power and water. And yet, we do regulate how television and radio are delivered and administered. It may be time to consider the same for the social media and foundational internet companies and regulate how they operate. 

So, if the wine industry’s companies are going to continue to rely on the Facebooks, Twitters, Instagrams and Googles of the world, despite the capricious exercise of power these utility-type companies are wielding, the very least that should be done is put in place a plan for the day when your company’s access to them is withdrawn. Think of it as insurance against an attack on your assets.

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9 Responses

  1. Lee - February 19, 2021

    Several years ago, my personal Facebook “page” was suspended, for a few months. This had the effect of bringing my associated business pages & groups down as well.
    My violation, was that I had my winery name in my middle name field instead of the nickname field.
    There was no way to protest, contact or otherwise obtain any customer service.
    The pages eventually returned on their own.
    Since then I have never advertised our counted on FB for anything, and never will.

  2. Ben - February 19, 2021

    FB today, FBI tomorrow.

  3. mike wanless - February 20, 2021

    wark, woking up!

  4. John caldwell - February 21, 2021

    Making us think Tom.

  5. Kevin Kidson - February 22, 2021

    Great post – eye opening.to say the least.
    Maybe its time we started to read the news sites again and not rely on the snippets of news we get through social media.

  6. Megan - February 22, 2021

    Social media should never be the end all be all of winery marketing. In every class I teach, every strategy session I work through with clients, every training session I have, we have a very deep discussion about ensuring that your only corner of the internet, your website (+email, +blog) should be your focus and social media amplifies those messages. I’ve had clients say, “I’ve heard I should just have a Facebook page and Instagram, websites are a thing of the past.” That couldn’t be farther from the truth, and even as a social media professional, I push everyone to having a well-done, active and engaging website, with supporting email and blog if they can sustain it. We rent social media properties, and if they go by the way of MySpace or Friendster or now Facebook in Australia, then we shift our activities to other platforms that make sense. Social media is fluid and changes constantly, pages and accounts get shut down on a whim, years of work are lost from these arbitrary shut downs. We cannot and will never control that. Take the sites for what they are, use them to benefit your business in any way you can, and never lose sight of making sure your only owned property on the internet is your own website. (Obviously there are caveats here, ahem Parler on AWS, but most of us aren’t Parler.)

  7. Tom Wark - February 22, 2021

    Well put, Megan. I think I get social media…But I think I want you as my SM Guru.

  8. Megan - February 22, 2021

    Thanks, Tom. It’s incredible to me to watch social media professionals *not* think this way. I get that a lot of my income is generated by helping people navigate social, create content and manage communities, but social media is a channel, like any other channel. Newspaper advertising was the bee’s knees for quite some time and that has morphed and minimized over time with the advent of digital. Social media is no different. Unless we own and control our own social network, we will always be at the mercy of the Zuckerbergs and Dorseys and even Bezos’ of the world. Honestly, that’s fine. There are massive benefits to social media marketing. As long as all our eggs are not in their baskets.

  9. Kathy - February 26, 2021

    Megan: “If they can sustain it.” That is the crux.
    I go to at least a half-dozen winery websites every day – wineries in France and Portugal. In most cases, the website is out of date but so is the FB page. Or via FB they have reverted to talking to friends and family. When they have an English language component, it is always outdated.
    In addition, when I look for an email address to contact the winery, it doesn’t exist. There are forms asking for name, email, message. Because they don’t stay current, questions largely go unanswered.
    Without the ability to ask for name of US importer (which should have been supplied), their wines are not tasted. Between cost of shipping and sales, it is an expensive mistake.


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