Social media has become a powerful marketing tool for the wine industry in the last decade. I remember when I was working for a wine industry technology company when social media was first introduced and we had to to explain to our winery clients they would have to start tweeting about wine. A few head scratches and denials later, the wine industry embraced social media as a way to engage their existing customers and gain new ones.

Along the way, we have learned there is a right and wrong way to add social media to the marketing mix for your business. I focused on the top basic mistakes made that are made by novices and experienced alike.

Are you making any of these mistakes?

Top Social Media Mistakes-Planning, Content, Images and More

Mistake #1 – No Plan!
Social media started out as a way to personally communicate with people. It’s spontaneous by nature, but as a business, you should have a plan for MOST of your social media activity. I say MOST because you will have spontaneous items to share all the time, but the bulk of your calendar should be planned ahead.


Mistake #2 – Not Committing The Time
Do you have the time and resources to commit to social media on a daily and weekly basis? You should have a minimum of 3-5 dedicated hours per week minimum. Remember it is not just putting up a few posts or pictures and calling it a day. Social media management involves engaging your own audience, participating in discussions, responding to comments or questions, looking for content to share, creating new content and analyzing your platforms to see what is working or not. Hours may vary, but make sure you can commit before you dive in.


Mistake #3 – Not picking the right social media platforms
Do you use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn? Do you blog and have a newsletter? Your choices of platforms to participate should depend on your demographic. Is your demographic older? Younger? Take the time to research where your audience would be. Don’t spread yourself too thin. It is better to do a few well than many poorly. Start with a couple and add on as time and resources allow.

Mistake #4- Not having enough diverse content
If you don’t plan ahead, it is easy to fall into a trap of posting the same content over and over. How many updates do your followers need of the vines growing or the same old pictures of grapes being picked? You can post about events, new releases, employee stories, guest visits, winery animals, wine education, wine humor, information about your area. You have a lot of options. Make sure you are putting all ideas on a calendar so you can plan the content ahead of time.


Mistake # 5- Not having a similar “voice” across all platforms and posts.
Your posting style should always reflect your business. You want a single voice on your platforms that it is appropriate to your audience. For example, if you have an older demographic, you may turn them off by using a lot of slang that a younger generation may use. You also don’t want to be too casual if your company is not as casual.  Make sure if you have multiple people posting for you within your company, that everyone knows what that “voice” is so they stay consistent.


Mistake #6 – You don’t post at the right times for your audience and platform
You want to post on the platform when your followers are there to engage with.  Each platform can tell you the best time to post for that platform, which usually works for most people, but pay attention to when YOUR followers are commenting, sharing, liking…in other words…engaging with your posts! Here is a link to give you the usual proper posting times for each platform..but make sure you check and make sure you have your audience most engaged at the right times!


Mistake #7– ALL you do is SELL, SELL, SELL!
You are in a business to sell your products or services, so it is natural to want to push the sale all the time. But this practice could turn off your fans and followers. The general rule of thumb is 4 out of 5 posts should be non-sales posts.


Mistake #8–You NEVER ask for the business
This is the flip side of “Mistake #6” and I see this just as often. It is easy to get too friendly and off-topic on social media and forget that the primary purpose of you using social media was to support your business.


Mistake #9-You don’t engage and respond
Ohhhh…this one is painful to witness! Someone comments on a post and the company never responds. Good or bad, you should always engage in your posts. Even a simple ‘Thank You’ can go along way. When it is a customer service issue, you should have a plan on how to respond. Negative and positive reviews should be handled with a public or private comment. NEVER ignore. Always look at it as a chance to make improvements and win back customers!


Mistake #10 – You don’t look at your analytics
Stop every now and then to measure your success, not just overall but piece-by-piece. Which types of posts get the most interactions and which are bombs? What sort of feedback is your community giving you? Keep doing the things that work and change the things that do not. There is an art and science to what, when, how and where to post.


Mistake #11- You Don’t Listen!

Are you “Listening” to social chatter about your business or industry? Using tools like HootsuiteGoogle Alerts  you can listen to anyone talking about your brand or industry keywords. 


Mistake #12 – You Give Up Too Soon!
Social media takes time! It is about relationship building and there is no shortcut to building relationships that result in community. I have heard way too many business owners say “I tried social media once, but there was no ROI”. There is an ROI, but the investment window is longer than the 30 days you gave it. You need to make a solid 6-month commitment to social media to start getting the significant returns you had hoped for. The revenue is in the relationship!

What About The Images?

And now for the visual mistakes of social media and marketing….Gina Cinardo of Ginici Studios in San Luis Obispo is a lifestyle and commercial photographer specializing in personal branding and marketing. She offers photography sessions for wineries to give them a great portfolio of images to use for social media and marketing.  She shared with me a few of her top visual mistakes not to make:

Visual Mistake #1-Don’t use images that are too busy, out of focus, or low resolution

You really like a particular photo your friend took with their phone. However, if it is too busy or too fuzzy, it is just hard to see. People may not get the message and may even get irritated because of the lack of quality of the image. This will reflect poorly on your company and will give off an unprofessional vibe from your viewers first impression.


Make every photograph you use online and/or in your printed marketing clean and clear. Images need to be in sharp focus right at the area of interest.  Peoples eyes should be in focus or a wine bottle, the label, sharp focus. Your photographs should also be simple and not cluttered. If there is too much going on in the background it will detract your viewers eyes from the primary point of interest. In this case, the message you are trying to get across could be lost or ineffective.

Finally, your photographs should have the proper resolution for your uses. You may have gotten photographs from other people and did not realize they sent you a low resolution image. Or maybe you’ve sized and reused an image so many times you’ve lost track of the original. Really small images will look pixelated in your presentation when you go larger than what the image will print. Common rule of thumb: pixel dimensions ÷ 250 = largest size in inches at which you can print. Contact me for a more detailed explanation, I love to geek out on tech stuff like this.

Visual Mistake #2-Don’t allow employees to post or tag the winery in posts that may reflect poorly on your business

Make sure you have guidelines clearly spelled out to your employees who are tasked with publishing on your social media accounts as well as other employees who may tag the business simply because they work their. I heard a story about an employee posting drunk selfies with a wine bottle from her place of employment and tagged the winery in the picture. The picture was not at the winery and was on her own time, but tagging the winery made it more visible to the business and customers which may not be want you want to portray. Firm guidelines will help avoid these situations. Make sure you approve photos for use in marketing.

Visual Mistake #3-Don’t use images that are copyrighted

There are photographs are all over the internet and social media. If you use another persons photograph for marketing you better know you have the right to use that image. There are many stock agencies online that offer royalty free images. However, if your organization has events it is worth the investment to hire a professional photographer. Just be clear what you want.  Photographs of the event itself can produce great images to market future events. You are selling the experience. People should be happy and having fun. While you have a professional at your location ask them to shoot details of your venue and/or organization. This can include products, the exterior of the building, the grounds and people. All of those images can be used in multiple campaigns. Use them on your social media, blogs, printed marketing, trade shows and more.

If you are interested in hiring Ginici Studios for a marketing session contact her and tell her Patty sent you. She has created special packages for wineries to photograph wine club events, wineries, winery staff and more.

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