Friday, September 18, 2009

The art of social media.


In 2004 I started an elaborate hobby. My hobby has become my job. Your hobby or passion could become yours. Social media can allow you to create a business from your kitchen table. It is ideal for artists, musicians and small family businesses.

I starting making wine and fortunately it proved to be good. It allowed me to continue the next year. Each release sold well and in turn I was able to reinvest each year and grow a little business. Over time I managed to drag my whole family into the wine industry. Fast forward to today and together we now run a cellar door with the full complications and workload that entails.


One of the most important things that has allowed this to happen is the new phenomenon of social media. Along the way it has help my business grow. It has become so important that social media I am not sure I would have a chance in the tough world that is wine.

Let me explain.

The burn around social media often centers on the technologies like Facebook, blogs, Twitter, etc. etc. But it isn’t all about gadgets. The power of social media is that it's about the relationships it builds and supports, not the technologies. I have been able to talk to customers all over the world from my living room. With my computer I have gained peers and supporter from all sorts of places, I can talk to them and they can talk to me at anytime.

You might think that I spend all day chatting about the weather, but in reality I am able to build awareness about my wines on no budget at all. I can find out what is happening in big markets of Sydney and Melbourne without leaving my home in Adelaide.
Usefully many wine journalist and media are online too. I don’t have to have a large marketing budget or conduct awareness campaigns. In just a few simple messages I can let them know what I am up to.

In my industry a well run marketing awareness campaign, whether it be a wine neck tag offering a prize, a celebrity endorsement, or a new cute koala label – or whatever – can do incredibly well for the wine producer. It is also very expensive and I can guarantee this, at the end of the day the wine producer (through market intelligence etc) may know who buys their wine, but I guarantee they don’t know them personally!

Well get this… the world is changing, and if you produce anything and you are not actively attempting to know your customer personally, through the tools that are now available, then you could be in trouble.

My tips to any small family business.

- Be yourself and be genuine.

- Go ahead and create profiles of yourself or your passion on all the social networks. This will give you contacts in an up-to-date list for when you have a new album out or news about your gigs.

- Take time to talk to other similar businesses or those with interest you find.

- Create a blog with an RSS feed for people to receive updates on your art directly, and create a homepage on the web you can direct traffic to through social networks.

- Take lots of photos of what you are doing. People are interested in what it takes to put that show, or art work, or wine together.

- Build a list of trade publications, blogs etc. who might cover what you make or are involved with. When you have news, organize it into a clean document for them with images and samples, and present it to them in a personal, direct manner. Publications are always looking for new stories and people to write on, you’d be surprised how responsive they’ll be for an excited, up-and-comer who is pitching them in a respectful manner.

The social media revolution is just starting and it has been a total revelation to me. I’ve not only helped keep my family business going, I have met some incredible people and they have become my friends. And yes, sometimes we do talk about the weather, but you would be surprised how interested people can be in that!

James Hook makes Lazy Ballerina -www.lazyballerina.com in McLaren Vale. He is a wine blogger and photographer on www.jameshookwine.blogspot.com and tweets on www.twitter.com/lazyballerina

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