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Social Networking - Online and Off.
By Margie Tosch
Friday, 29th May 2009
 
Everywhere you go people are talking about it - and doing it: social networking and although most of the talk is about online social networking, the phrase can applied to both to online and offline networking.

Wikipedia: A social network is a social structure made of nodes (which are generally individuals or organizations) that are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as values, visions, ideas, financial exchange, friendship, sexual relationships, kinship, dislike, conflict or trade.

Don't think social networking matters? Think again. Check out this graph by compete.com on the growth in the last 6 months:

Yearly Change:
  • Facebook: +249.70%
  • YouTube: +24.50%
  • Twitter: +1,192.13%
Clearly, the social networking model has boomed. Think social networking is just for youth? The fastest-growing segment on Facebook, originally launched at Harvard for college students, now is people over age 35.

A white paper released this month by VinTank, looks at Social media and its use by wineries:

"Consumer embrace of social media literally turns the tables on marketers," said Tom Wark, publisher of the Fermentation daily wine blog and Partner in Wark Communications.

"With millions of consumers, particularly those of the Millennial generation, now frequently using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace, brands are being built and defined as much by consumers and communities as they are by marketers and suppliers. The degree of change this represents can't be underestimated."

Some key findings of the white paper:
  • According to Compete.com, the top 20 wine bloggers in aggregate represent a larger audience than the Wine Spectator online, and are growing at a faster rate. However, the wine blogosphere is highly fragmented and difficult for wineries to navigate.
  • Wine social network memberships number in the hundreds of thousands, although it is near impossible to determine how much overlap exists across networks.
  • The two top-rated wine social networks, CellarTracker and VinCellar, started as wine cellar management tools that over time have added social networking functionality. This deeper level of value has paid huge dividends in terms of customer loyalty.
  • A key challenge for all wine social networks that have achieved any kind of scale is data quality. Duplicate and incorrect data affects all of these sites to varying degrees.
  • Online advertising models for the wine industry have more challenges than other verticals due to outdated alcohol regulations.
The free white paper is available for download at www.vintank.com/VinTank_SocialMediaReport.pdf

We are also conducting our own survey on our industries' use of social media, with well over a 100 responses already, it can provide you with great -- and up to the minute -- information. Take the survey and immediately get the results.

Think of networking as being a personal branding exercise, whether it is your own services, the services of your company or business that you are promoting, or even yourself as you look for a new employment opportunity.

And of course - all networking isn't online. The right approach would be to overlay both your online and offline worlds. So go out there, start promoting yourself and/or your business; show people why you're different and why they should do business with you.

And if you are in the wine country, of course the perfect opportunity for networking with others in the industry is this Thursday - at the "Industry Insiders" event at the Hess Collection.

Email me and let me know your thoughts! margie@otlconsulting.com†

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