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SM_SOCIALMEDIA_3PHOTO: Senior brand manager Hayley Bishop created the Jacob’s Creek Facebook page in 2010 and it has skyrocketed to success in just three years.

FACEBOOK AND TWITTER may be known to the workplace as big, fat time-wasters but wine brands across the nation are taking advantage of these social media platforms to effectively engage with consumers at little (or no) expense. As Stephanie Timotheou reports, one global company is ticking all the right boxes.

Gone are the days of picking up a phone to have a chat with friends and family.

Social media is rapidly taking over with sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus, Tumblr, LinkedIn.

Next week, next month and next year there will be even more.

As of March 2013 Facebook, the world’s number one social media site, had more than 1.11 billion users taking part in the social media whirl.

And the wine industry has lapped it up, creating pages to promote brands and interact with consumers.

Grapegrower & Winemaker scoured the Facebook and Twitter cybersphere to find out which wineries have switched on and discovered Jacob’s Creek setting a hot pace with a whopping 376,000 Facebook likes as of December 2013.

But while its Facebook page is pumping with so-called ‘likers’  its Twitter page – which hasn’t been around as long – has only attracted 2300 followers, almost certainly because of the way each platform is used.

Jacob’s Creek senior brand manager Hayley Bishop said the company considers social media a very important aspect of marketing and has found it to be an effective way of connecting with fans.

“In terms of measuring our success, it is not just about the number of ‘likes’ we get,” Bishop said.

“We focus on reach and engagement which includes how many people see the post and how many people like and comment in response to posts.

“We have seen strong results to our content and activations as well as the overall positive sentiment on the page.”

In the past financial year, Jacob’s Creek’s global page had more than 3.2 million Facebook post impressions (the number of times a post from its page was displayed on a person’s news feed).

Bishop said if the local market pages were added to this figure, she expects it may have been close to double that.

RULES, REGULATIONS AND BOUNDARIES

Self-employed Adelaide-based social media consultant Michelle Prak said any type of business including a winery must be aware the usual advertising and communication laws which govern their work also apply to social media.

“For example you can’t share misleading statements – the code of conduct for alcohol advertising and promotion would still apply in the cyber-world,” she added.

“As well as this, social media platforms also have their own terms and conditions.”

She used an example of Twitter and how businesses shouldn’t send the same tweet more than once, as accounts could be suspended for spam.

“Many businesses have fallen into this trap when they get too keen with their marketing messages so it pays to read the platform’s terms and conditions.”

Restricting the age groups of people who can view alcohol-related pages is also essential and Jacob’s Creek has put specific measures in place to ensure minors do not have access to its Facebook and Twitter pages.

“Our Facebook page cannot be accessed by anyone under the legal drinking age,” Bishop said. “As with all online alcohol content pages, age verification is required.

“We apply strict CSR policies around this. Our content is targeted to consumers of legal drinking age and we also include regular posts about responsible drinking to our fan base.”

HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT REALLY?

According to Prak social media can be extremely effective for wineries however like any communications tactic is depends on how it’s used.

She put it simply: If you don’t use it well, it won’t work for you.

Prak suggested the best way to view social media is as a community rather than a billboard opportunity.

“If you join in with the community talking about your wines, history and family and share an appreciation of wine, food and your region, that’s the best way to effectively use social media to build a loyal following,” she said.

And Jacob’s Creek has done exactly this.

Bishop said the company sees social media as an important tool to help build relationships and connect with its fans and potential consumer base, rather than an avenue for generating sales.

“We know from some industry studies as well as our own consumer research that by interacting with a wine brand online, wine lovers build a repertoire of brands they like, trust or recommend,” she added.

According to Prak, social media gives organisations the power to listen to consumers and discover what they like about wines and what sorts of things they need to know.

“To unlock the potential of social media it’s vital to understand this – it’s not a space where you constantly talk about yourself and then leave,” she said.

“It’s a place where you might gain your next great idea or strike up a partnership which benefits your winery.

“It’s an ever-changing environment and conversation, just like good networking should be.”

Full story in the June 2014 issue of Grapegrower & Winemaker.

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