Harvest gets underway this week in Washington wine country and winemakers will have their hands full – literally – with wine grapes. But it’s no time to forget about marketing.
Harvest and crush are orgies for the senses – whirlwinds of color, explosions of scent, symphonies of bright sound, all framed in the Northwest’s glorious autumn light. Most of us wish we could be there to share the experience. Most of us can’t.
So how can busy winemakers and vineyard managers bring harvest to us and keep us engaged in their brands when they’re crazy-busy in pickin’ and squishin’ grapes?
The answer, in a word: Instagram.
It goes like this – take a picture with a digital device, enhance the image with a filter and share via Instagram or another social media account. Breathtakingly simple, incredibly powerful. All it takes is a smart phone, and every winemaker I know not only has one, but knows how to use it.
Some benefits, according to SocialMediaToday: It involves your community of consumers in what you’re doing day to day and lets them see what goes on in the vineyard and at your crushpad. It also spreads the wealth across your social platforms, thereby expanding your pool of potential customers.
… brands are learning that pictures are not just worth a thousand words, they also are worth a thousand fans.
Moreover, visual marketing via Instagram is incredibly sticky – consumers remember who you are when they see your images. One marketing expert calls it “social media engagement super glue” – a perfect description, IMHO. Research via Simply Measured suggests that brands are learning that pictures are not just worth a thousand words, they also are worth a thousand fans.
So what’s a winemaker to do? Some quick suggestions:
- Commit to snapping one Instagram image per day and sharing it on your social media platforms. Let your followers know in advance what you’re going to be doing and engage them in the process. Ask them for feedback or to select their favorite image. Invite them to guess where you are or what you’re doing. Ask them what they’d like to see in harvest or crush.
- Spread the wealth by shooting a variety of images – it shouldn’t be a hundred images of grapes. Express the complete experience, from sunrise and sunset.
- Curate the images by assembling them all in one place, then sharing as an online photo album on Facebook after crush is complete.
- Create a hard-copy book of harvest and crush using an online service such as Shutterfly or Snapfish. (Walgreen’s, Rite-Aid and Costco offer similar services.) Share the book in your tasting room or print a handful of copies to offer as gifts or giveaways.
- Print a handful of images and post them as a gallery in your tasting room. Who needs frames? Just pin them to the wall.
- Still too busy to do this daily? Then involve a fellow winemaker, trade off each day and share the images. Or enlist your harvest intern to do this for you.
Several WA wineries seem to get the power of visual marketing. Trey Busch at Sleight of Hand and Eric McLaughlin at Seven Hills come to mind. It will be interesting to see which others join the party this fall.