Once you have set yourself up on FB, the next step is to set up your winery as a page (or subset of your profile.) FB requires that a personal profile be established first and that your affiliation be connected to a real person. However, many people have put up their business as a personal profile and then use the friend system. I read somewhere that FB would pull those profiles down when discovered, but have yet to see that happen.
Set up your page with brand image, winery info and link to your website. Then, out you go to find fans. (Here, FB was smart! Fans are the best term for the people who follow your brand on FB.) Easiest way is to send an email to your list letting them know your FB address name and invite them to become a fan.
What should you post? Well, just about anything that is topical in our industry as well as anything that speaks well of your company. Post your new wine releases, wine acclaim, winemaker dinners, when and where you will be pouring your wines, special promotions and links. Facebook is all about relationship building and not selling.
Fans expect that you will be telling them good things about your brand, but want to hear more than just that. However, be careful not overuse obvious self-promotion and never, never use a hard sell in your FB postings. Nothing will turn off your fans faster and they will tell you so as they click goodbye.
Instead post topics that will generate discussion and comments. FB was designed for this. One way is to ask a great question that sparks a response. Recently, Downtown Walla Walla asked its fans, “What is your favorite WW restaurant and why?” 64 responses in a few hours!
Best way to find out what to post is to follow other wineries. Through FB, I get updates from Sokol Blosser on their vineyard activity; I follow Justin Wylie as he travels around the country marketing Va Piano Winery and I am convinced that no winemaker has a better life than Sleight of Hand’s Trey Busch.
The key is to get people commenting on your post and ultimately about your brand when they open your wines for their friends. You want them talking to you and to each other about how and when your wines fit in their lives.
Of course, this is a double-edge sword. However, remember these are your fans! So you are still among friends. That changes when you move over to Twitter, then the gloves can come off.
Who should post? You can set up any number of people to post on behalf of your winery page. Each of them will need to have a personal profile and then you can designate them as a page administrator. The key is to talk with one common voice so that your fans are not confused with obviously different perspectives.
How often should you post? The best answer is -- “It depends.” My own rule of thumb is once or twice a day maximum unless something major is happening with your brand. At minimum, you should be posting once a week just to keep reminding your fans that you are out there.
Keep your postings to just a few lines, or if you are providing a link, then just a teaser. I have seen too many postings that have the first several sentences of the article as the post and then FB adds that same information in the link. To avoid this repetition, craft your own teaser to the story you have attaching. Remember the golden rules of headline writing to grab a reader’s attention! Make it easy for them to get more information, by providing a link back to your website. As more people are Facebooking on smart phones today, long postings make it too easy to flick on by.
Wineries can leverage their fan base in a multitude of ways such as special FB exclusive promotions, announcements of special events, contests, giveaways. Recently, I posted that Covey Run had ten mixed cases of wine for sale at $48 a case. No substitutions, no returns. These wines were gone in three hours and as they were purchased, FB fans told their friends that they scored and how many cases were left.
I also made a habit to post on a set schedule basically the same information every Friday, reminding Columbia Winery’s 1200+ fans that we are open until 7pm and that they can get this week’s featured flatbread with a glass of wine right up to closing. As in all marketing efforts, succinct repetition is very effective.
Summary: Facebook is a powerful tool for reaching fans, soliciting comments and for gaining endorsements from your most loyal customers, all for very little money and just a bit of your time. However, it should be just one part of your overall social media approach, which will make for a great future installment.