I am a Millennial. I am a wine enthusiast. I am a digital marketer. And I am also incredibly frustrated.
I see the value in not only investing in good wine but investing in understanding wine. And not just for my professional development. But for my own personal enjoyment. Wine is as much a hobby as the industry in which I choose to make my living. And yet I am incredibly frustrated.
As a businesswoman I fully understand the need to find a balance between making money, building a brand and providing access. In today’s digital era, your name is your brand. Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. The Blogosphere. A website. What holds true for me, as was so recently pointed out to me: a small no-name blogger, is doubly true of Estate and high-profile wine personalities or critics. So why is the wine industry so far behind the rest of the world? Why is information so limited? So restricted? So expensive?
As I continue to immerse myself, in ever greater detail to the very wide world of wine, my disappointment just continues to grow. I hear a lot of talk about changing the way the industry talks about wine. About providing greater access to the new generation, who thinks about, talks about and buys wine differently from any generation that has come before. About bringing the conversation to the digital age. But it is just talk.
In the past year, in interactions through both my work with a high profile wine merchant and through my personal online presence, I’ve experienced things that leave me wanting to scream. From requests for removal of information publicly featured elsewhere to outright condescension, it is clear to me that many people in the wine industry have yet to come to terms with what having a digital presence and engaging with the Millennials actually means.
So for those looking to maintain their relevancy in an increasingly free, increasingly digital world, here is my (I’d like to think at least somewhat expert) advice:
- A free mention in a blog, on Facebook or Twitter, or even among friends holds great weight, no matter the source. Be thankful someone is willing to talk about you. You may not like how they say it but unless they are saying something negative shut up and embrace your good fortune.
- If you do have concerns, never share them in a public forum. Address your concerns in private to the individual or company involved. It’s just tacky when you complain publicly.
- Listen to the new generation and bring the conversation to them in terms they can understand. The established generation of critics and wine enthusiasts is getting old and the new generation of customers and future collectors talk about wine in a different fashion. Don’t be scared, we don’t bite… unless given a reason to.
- Find a mid-point between getting paid to do what you love (ahem, wine critics) and providing free content. The world is a very different place and if you want to continue to be seen as an expert, you have to remain accessible.
- Find a balance between promoting your personal brand and the products you offer. Keep some of your best content behind a membership barrier, ask people who are truly willing to engage to pay for it. But do try to keep your social media links balanced between what the general public can access and the special items you offer for your members.
- Don’t look down upon us Millennials. We may be young and a tad over eager at times, but in general we mean well and if you are willing to meet us halfway we are eager to learn and more importantly to share our good experiences. But beware, we are just as eager to share the bad ones.
- Don’t be a snob. No one likes a snob. Remember that wine, yes, even fine wine, is about sharing the experience and bringing something good to someone’s life. Luxury product or no, wine can be shared and enjoyed by all. And while you may think you are an expert, there is always someone who knows more about something than you do. And while you may be important today, the future is never guaranteed.
- And don’t forget, we may be young now but eventually you will be looking to us.