by Courtney Llewellyn
Back in 2010, two good friends with a passion for good wine decided to embark on a mission – to visit every winery in North Carolina. “It was not an original idea,” laughed Jessica Adams, one of the two Jessicas involved in the project. But from that idea grew something a little bigger and a little more influential.
Adams, along with her friend Jessica Byrd, thus began their blog, dubbed Wine Mouths. Per their website, a wine mouth can be defined three ways: first, as the purple stain left on your lips after drinking too much red wine; second, as what happens when you drink so much wine you suddenly become overly talkative; and finally, as the duo behind the blog. The goal of their documented travels is education.
“Education is our love,” Adams said. She is a speech language pathologist with a background in chemistry and client relations, and Byrd has worked in the legal technology industry for over a dozen years. Byrd is also a recent graduate of the viticulture and enology program at Surry Community College in North Carolina.
Through their Wine Mouths blog, events they host and an online video series, they teach people about the Tar Heel State’s wine industry, from the grapes in the vineyards to the finished products. They also spoke recently at the North Carolina Winegrowers’ Association Conference on the topic of alternative marketing and looking beyond social media – specifically, marketing strategies that drive consumer involvement and create community in the winery and beyond.
“We wanted to talk more about social media and thought about the different lenses you can use to market yourself,” Adams explained. “There are really four lenses you need to look through: transparency, education, community and collaboration.”
And while winery, distillery and brewery owners know a social media presence is a must, the age of the business owner tends to determine which platforms they prioritize. Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and older Millennials lean toward Facebook and Twitter; younger Millennials and Gen-Zers use Instagram and Snapchat more often.
“There tends to be a gap in the use of social media,” Adams noted. “The biggest difference you can see is in websites. Some folks think just creating a site or a Facebook page is enough. They don’t update, they don’t engage. But everyone is about the experience these days.”
“However, you can’t be everything to everyone,” Byrd added. “You need to find your voice – and figure out who you’re speaking to. I know one blogger who said to skip Facebook and go straight to Instagram. It’s a very polarizing topic.”
Byrd said before tossing all your eggs into either the Facebook or Instagram basket, though, you need a good marketing plan first. “Define your market, your voice, your brand,” she said. “It all goes together. You don’t put one thing before the other – you need the horse and the cart.”
The duo recommends working with different influencers across several platforms to see the best results. That collaboration lens is important. “Work with other wineries and breweries in your local area,” Adams said. “We know of a professional photographer in our area that does Instagram images for several businesses.”
A regular posting schedule helps owners look at their social media presence through the other lenses too – showing potential customers how your beverages are made, teaching them different aspects of the industry and demonstrating how you are involved in your community. A static website or a single business tour doesn’t accurately convey all you do.
The biggest thing to remember, according to Adams? “Always take pictures and be consistent!” she said.