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January 19, 2012

German Wineries & Social Media

Prof. Dr. Edith Rüger-Muck about Facebook & Co for wineries

Yesterday, I spent the day at Saalbau in Neustadt, to follow the 65. Pfälzische Weinbautage. This yearly conference for vintners of the Pfalz is organized by the agricultural department of Rheinlandpfalz (www.lwk-rlp.de), the Farmers & Vintners Association (www.bwp-rlp.de) and the agricultural service center (www.dlr-rheinpfalz.rlp.de). The two days event was generally focussing on how to strategically combat the increasing weather episodes and their effects on the vines/wine, but had also a few other topics to offer.

One of those was how to build/expand/maintain customer relations by using social media. This was actually the part I was interested in most and why I went there, to see if I could learn more.

What to say? First impression: this section of the day was the one, where least attention was brought to by the audience! There was a constant mumbling and chatting/talking that was above all impolite towards the speaker, Mrs. Rüger-Muck, who did a good job up there. Those vintners! My personal interpretation was that most of them felt not at all addressed. "Social media? Facebook? Xing? That's for the desk sitters. Or at least it's got nothing to do with my winery..." 

What a shame. But it also kind of reflected parts of what the speaker had to say: so are wine related pages not at all found under the top ranking Facebook pages. No. 1 FB page in Germany with over 1.000.000 fans was McDonalds (!) (?) and Nr. 5 with almost half a million ..... the discounter Lidl!! (??) WTH? Armes Deutschland.

Then Mrs. Rüger-Muck showed the leading German winery fan page with over 900 fans: Johner. http://de-de.facebook.com/Weingut.Karl.H.Johner. Currently, not a single German winery makes it to over 1000 fans on their page. 

In comparison, she presented American wineries with much higher numbers, (note: but still not close to the Australian Yellow Tail brand (a terrible wine, to my taste) with over 290.000 fans. This has been researched by journalist Mario Scheuermann, and can be found here: 
http://drinktank.blogg.de/eintrag.php?id=3227 and more info plus numbers here:

The speaker further outlined, that it is more the personal pages of vintners that have most attention, compared to their winery pages. A good example for that is Dirk Würtz, a winemaker, blogger and more. He has over 5000 fans on his page and he is seen as Germany's Web 2.0 Guru. Anyone connected to the wine related German Social Media world, knows Dirk. See here: http://www.facebook.com/dirk.wuertz.weinShe also related to other German blogs and bloggers, which I recognized, almost all of them. It felt like meeting 'old friends', since I do follow their blogs (at least partly). About several of them you can find entries on this blog, like under the label Twitter.

The essence was, that it is not enough to have a Facebook page (Twitter account, Xing account....) only, but that it is well maintained. It is all about having a strategy about branding yourself or your product/winery. You even need to be ready for criticism and how to react then. To simply start up a page and 'see what happens' won't give much. And this is the part where most wineries don't even want to know more, because they lack time to do it themselves and/or money for resources to do it for them. 

However, it might be more expensive to keep ignoring social media and its importance as one of the tools of a good marketing strategy.

With great interest, I will keep following the development of wineries & social media. But hearing the mumbling crowds yesterday, tells me, it might still need some time...


3 comments:

  1. Facebook and other Social Media is not that fast and easy as lots of newbees think. It's time consuming and it takes a long time to build a proper community. That's one of the reasons there are so many unfinished or disrutpted German winery-SM-projects on the net.Read here http://www.weinakademie-berlin.de/wein-auf-facebook-mehr-seiten-trotzdem-wenig-wirkung

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  2. Thank you very much for your note! I appreciate it :).

    You are definitely right about the fact that social media is time consuming - especially in the beginning. Big brands will have staff to work with it, but small and medium-sized wineries won't be able to afford extra costs - with an uncertain, not yet measurable, outcome. So, what's the deal for those wineries? How can they get involved anyway? To not just leave the market to the huge brands... I will read your article with interest, thank you! :)

    Cheers!
    Heike

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  3. "Currently, not a single German winery makes it to over 1000 fans on their page."

    I beg to differ:
    https://www.facebook.com/klostereberbach

    Once more leading the way ;)

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