A Spoonful of Social Media

“You can buy attention [advertising]. You can beg for attention from the media [PR], or you can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales). Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free.” –David Meerman Scott, Best-Selling Author & Speaker
Jumping into the way back machine, it's time for a quick drive down memory lane, Gladius is playing the harp in the background. A traveling companion and I were visiting the Paso Robles area, one of my favorites stops on the wine trail. I love to hit the road nice and early. Before I head out for the day, I make it a point to have a big breakfast, and staying at the Paso Robles Inn, I thought what a great opportunity to dine locally and have breakfast there at least once. The food was tasty, the service was excellent, and the coffee was hot. 

Right before I get to the point of this old story, it's important to note, that while this occurred way back at the beginning of "social media engagement", the truths found in the story still hold value for today's social media-savvy travelers. 
Just one thing was missing that morning; there were no spoons, yes you heard me right, not even a single spoon anywhere to stir cream and sugar into my coffee. We looked at the tables behind us, nothing, we looked into the server station, the slot where the spoons usually would go was bone dry. It was a spoon shortage of epic proportions [oh-my], and I was afraid to ask what happened to the spoons, perhaps they had to sell off the spoons to pay a lousy gambling debt or some other addiction. 

So as I stirred the coffee with the fork, I pulled my smartphone from my pocket, checked in via FourSquare for Android, and jokingly commented; "I'd give up to half of my kingdom for a spoon." Not more than a minute later, did I get a tweet back from @TravelPaso [City Hall] asking if I would like them to bring me a spoon, from their office across the street from the Paso Robles Inn? I tweeted back, "Nah, I'll get along fine without a spoon" [@cuvee_corner]. 
The reply came back, "oh-no that won't do; we are having a spoon brought to you now" I shared this exchange with a traveling companion, who could see me laughing while the conversation via Social Media ensued and marveled at what was transpiring over a simple spoon. A few moments later, an elderly woman, tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Are you, Will?" why yes I replied, and she said, "Here’s your spoon." I said, "thank you very much" and as she walked away, I looked over at my traveling companion, and I just started to laugh so hard, I could not believe what had just happened, moments later I was stirring my coffee with that very spoon. 
This moment of levity is a small demonstration of the potential power of social media and how it can be wielded for good in the right hands and obviously for nefarious reasons as well. If I, as a garden-variety wine writer with a modest following can leverage that kind of service for a simple thing like a spoon, hand-delivered to my table, then imagine what a business could do with a dedicated Social Media presence? That said, building your brand in the twenty-first century through social media channels is not and should not be an option, it's a deal-breaker to go without it. 

The power to change and shape folk's minds is not being accomplished these days through slick marketing campaigns, girls in bikinis holding puppies, or fast-talking spokes-holes. Oh no my friends, if you want to swing the power of direct marketing [known as Social Media] to the masses, you had better get on the social media bandwagon before it leaves you in the dust. Many folks today question the value of social media and its impact on the bottom line. Is it driving the consumer to buy the products being discussed, these are fair points to make, but I think when it comes to wine, it's an entirely different story.
Possibly you still think, I don't know what I'm talking about in this regard, fair to say.  That said, consider this example for a moment; I wrote an article about a winery in the Santa Lucia Highlands, a winery I only became aware of during a tasting at the annual event called, "Pinot Days" because their juice rocked and still does. The winery in this example is called Paraiso Vineyards, located in the Santa Lucia Highlands, producing world-class Pinot Noir, in the reasonable range of the price scale [The point is coming, building the story for maximum impact]. 
Especially when compared to many of their counterparts other AVA's like the Russian River Valley or even the smoky [foggy] points of the Central Coast, known for their extended "waiting" list. They were surprised by how much my review lit up their website according to their owner [who I later met at the SLH tasting in LA] after my Pinot Days Top-Ten list came out. After that, they had put my notes in PDF form on their site for everyone to find. It was a proud day for my blog and a firm stamp of approval on the value of Social Media. 

I picked up a few quotes I found from a gentleman on Twitter who made the following observations, about the impact social media has on the wine business. “Wine in itself is the most social product together with food. Consumers hate to buy wine as if it were a jar of peanut butter” ~Emilio Saez van Eerd.
He went on to give some further ground rules about how wineries and or wine-related businesses should use or consider using Social Media to engage their customers. By the way, many wineries are successfully using Social Media and reaping the benefits. But for those still apprehensive about diving into the deep end of the social media pool, here are a few more tips about the possible course of action you may want to take if you do decide to jump in. 
1. Give the people want they want, engage, meet them where they are in Technology Land, and like the Marines say, adapt, change, and overcome. 
2. Reward your customer’s eagerness to share your wine with their friends, incentivize their efforts, and reap the rewards. [The "how" is up to you]
3. Answer consumer questions promptly, be friendly, open up, and be your product or service and above all, be genuine. [By the way, "I don't know," "I'll get back to you on that" is a perfectly acceptable answer as well.]
One other thing I wanted to share with you about what I believe is the proper role of Social Media, is advice that comes from a company we all know and most of us respect. The quote is derived from the CEO of a business we're all familiar with, as iconic as Apple, it's Starbucks. Perhaps you've heard of them before. Their CEO, Howard Schultz commented on the role of social media in their business, and I think it's excellent advice for wineries and or wine-related companies newly seeking to use Social Media to build or bolster their brand. If his words don’t get your attention, nothing will. 
“This is the mistake firms make in using these channels to try to sell stuff.” Schultz went on to clarify that point more by saying; “They [social media channels] are not designed for that but to add value and build trust. We understood that from day one.”  
Can bringing someone a spoon ultimately change anything, maybe not, but I’ll tell you one thing, I will never forget that story and now neither will you. So I hope the story I shared above was in some way instructive and perhaps someone who considers employing social media to build their brand found the information here helpful. For me, this story fully illustrates just how powerful social media networking can be in the hands of the right person, with the correct motivations. Until next time folks sip long and prosper cheers!


David said…
Awesome story about the spoon! Great, simple illustration of the power of social medai.
Will Eyer said…
Thanks David, It was an interesting experience, one I will never forget, makes me happy to know, that the city of Paso Robles is so on top of their social media, it makes folks feel right at home.
Tina Swithin said…
This is fabulous!

Paso Robles has the best hospitality- love the power of social media!
Will Eyer said…
Hey Tina,

Thanks, I'm a big fan of Paso Robles, I luv the small town feel and "niceness" factor I get from every visit. This city not only uses social media well, but they also know how to leverage it in a way that benefits everyone.


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