Instagram, the social platform once reserved for bearded hipsters and wellness bloggers, has taken the online world by storm in recent years, racking up an impressive 300 million active users since its 2010 launch.
Emilie Reynolds reports.
A shift in trends has seen popular social media move into a more visual space, providing a huge growth potential for the mobile-only platform, which is made up entirely of images and short videos.
With 70 million posts and more than 2.5 billion likes everyday Trish Barry, Mastermind Consulting chief strategist, said Instagram was the perfect platform for wine brands to connect with a younger demographic in a creative way.
In a recent webinar for Wine Communicators of Australia ‘Social success: How to leverage Instagram to grow wine brand awareness’ Barry spoke about Instagram as having massive marketing potential for wine brands, as long as the businesses follow a few key tips.
Instagram can be downloaded via an App store straight to your smart phone. It’s free and easy to use. Once the App has downloaded, Barry said it was important for wine brands to have the basics in place to ensure effective consumer interaction.
“Have the winery name as your Instagram handle, upload a profile picture and use the ‘bio’ section to describe the brand and region,” Barry said. “It’s also very important to include a URL in the website section as it is your main call to action.”
Once the setup has been achieved, Barry said it’s important to experiment with content and discover what works best for each brand.
“The content comes back to the story you are trying to tell,” Barry explained. “Why are you on the platform and what do you want to say? Bring the personality of the brand to life.”
Barry said hashtags were an important factor to consider when posting on Instagram, as 83 per cent of posts by top brands included at least one hashtag.
“Brands can use hashtags to find more followers,” she said. “Hashtags are your way of being discovered by consumers when they’re looking for certain people, content or themes.”
Barry encouraged wine brands to create their own hashtag and display it in the bio section, that way when consumers want to engage with the brand they can use the hashtag and be seen.
“Other popular hashtags for Australian wine brands are #aussiewine, #instawine, #instafood, #restaurantaustralia, #seeaustralia as well as regional hashtags such as #huntervalley and varietal hashtags like #Shiraz.”
Barry noted that brands should avoid over doing it with dozens hashtags as “consumers don’t want to feel like they’re being spammed”.
“Some businesses put lots of hashtags in their feeds, but my advice is to stick to hashtags that are relevant to the brand, story and category to be most effective.”
Barry said jumping on board daily hashtags such as #TBT (throwback Thursday) and #WineWedesnday were a good way to get started.
“Remember though, nobody likes a brand trying too hard to get their love and attention on social media, so if you’re going to do it, do it well, and be 100 per cent authentic,” she said.
Call to action
Some business on Instagram have complained about the fact that there is no call to click, according to Barry. This means that when posting a photo, consumers can’t click from the caption and comments straight to the website.
To get around this, Barry advised brands to ensure a website link was accessible in the bio section.
“Change the link depending on what you are aiming to promote,” Barry said. “If you have an event, or a new release wine then swap the website link so consumers can go straight to the right page.”
Barry also suggested using a link shortener tool such as bitly.com to inspect analytics and see how many people are clicking and engaging in the post via Instagram.
Tell a story
Wine industry marketing strategies often differ from other industries because of the romantic and emotional ties that consumers have with wine and the wineries they visit. Simone Furlong, Leeuwin Estate joint chief executive, said Instagram was a valuable tool to stay in touch with people from around the world who enjoy Leeuwin Estate wines.
The Margaret River winery has amassed a following of more than 3,000 and prides itself on delivering beautiful photos with descriptive captions.
“It is a wonderful medium to share our story, the seasons of the vineyard and keep people updated about new releases and events,” Furlong said.
Barry advised wineries to take a step back and look at all of the images together to reinforce brand image.
“Think about your content like a magazine editor would,” she said. “Ask yourself: ‘What story does this picture tell about my brand?’”
Barry said the more wine brands think about how the pictures and feed are structured, the more success they would find on the platform.
“Many wine brands I follow on Instagram focus the feed on just selling their product,” Barry said “They’re not telling the story or thinking about the whole visual impact.
Wine brands should consider taking a look at other profiles that are finding success on Instagram, according to Barry.
“There’s some really great wine-related content being shared on Instagram,” she said. “Joe from @onceuponawine has been very active and is mixing up the content.
“He tells stories and makes a big effort to connect with the audience by reaching out to people who are searching for wine related content.
“Wine Gallery is another good profile to check out. They are an online wine story in Australia who post a beautiful mix of photos and quotes with a planned visual style.”
Barry said it was important to share a story about the background of the wine and personality.
“Instagram is a way to take your consumer ‘behind the scenes’,” she said. “While you might share an event photo album on Facebook, you should post timely and candid updates on Instagram.”
Video is the fastest growing tool on many social media platforms, including Instagram, which began accommodating the feature in 2013. Barry said wine brands should think about the role of video in telling their story.
“At the moment Instagram allows for 15 second videos, so it is important for you to create effective content,” Barry said. “Choose a good cover photo from frames and play around with phone camera features.”
While photos capture static moments in time, Barry said video was perfect for expressing the personality, humour and fun behind your brand.
“Video is your friend,” she said. “The internet (your customers) love video.”
Jeremy Benson, the president of Benson Marketing, said Instagram videos were perfect for giving consumers an insight into the process of growing grapes and making wine.
“During harvest there are a lot of steps along the way,” Benson said.
“Create a video that shows the harvested grapes as they go from the bin to the destemmer to the fermentation tank. Fans will get a better idea of the sequence of events.”
Barry said it was important to know your phones capabilities in order to produce the best quality content.
“There are also some great tools around to bring your video to life and evoke some emotion,” she said.
“Hyperlapse is an App that creates time lapse videos which are fantastic for storytelling.”
Share user-generated content
Although there were some legal policies to consider when sharing other people’s images, Barry said it was important to take note of users visiting your winery and to reach out to them when possible.
“One of the most common things being breached on Instagram is copyright,” Barry said.
“If you don’t have permission or are pulling content from the internet it can expose you to copyright law however if it is user generated it’s easy to ask for permission.”
“Simply say something like ‘we love that photo, can we have permission to reuse it on our feed’.”
More often than not, Barry said users would feel flattered by the request.
Some brands have also created personal hashtags and encouraged visitors to use them as an automatic way of granting repost permission.
“For example, Best’s Great Western from Western Australia have a line in their bio that says ‘use #bestswines to allow reposting,” Barry said.
Timing was another crucial factor in gaining maximum exposure according to Barry, who encouraged wineries to share real time user generated content whenever brand related events were happening.
In terms of the easiest way to repost, Berry suggested downloading an App called ‘Repost’, which automatically carries over information about the original post including user and caption.
For those not keen on clogging up their phone space with more Apps, Barry said a screen shot of the image would also suffice as long as the user was correctly tagged.