By: Abigail Miller
Images are one of the best ways of communicating with friends, family, and consumers. If you are not familiar with Instagram (instagram.com), it is a social media outlet that is a fun way to share your life or business through a series of pictures. It is easy to use: snap a photo with your smartphone or tablet, chose a filter to enhance your photo, and then post to Instagram, using the free app, for all your followers to view. What images should you post? Pictures of your employees working, products you are creating and selling, events that you hold at your winery, and everything else that shows what it would be like to visit your tasting room.
Now, you may not see Instagram as a beneficial tool for marketing your wines and winery, but this blog will help you understand the many advantages of using this tool.
With Instagram you can reach new audiences, in particular Younger Millennials and Generation Y (born between 1980s and 2000) (Noren, 2011), through visuals and short messages. Recently, a website edition of Instagram became available. This new addition allows businesses to create more of a “collage” of all the images you post, thus providing a better idea of what “goes on” at your tasting room.
You can also use Instagram to create engaging, “hands on” posts. For example, a great idea would be to create a photo contest through your Instagram account. Asking your followers to use a particular hashtag (#) (a word or an unspaced phrase prefixed with the hash character) for a contest by tagging (when you tag someone or tag a business, you create a link to their profile) their own pictures, when they post them to their own Instagram account, then select a winner and provide a prize. This is a perfect way to involve your consumers and followers while building excitement and interest in your business.
In the upper right hand, you can see there are currently 70 images that have used the hashtag lifedistilled (#LIFEDISTILLED), all relating to Big Spring Spirits. Imagine the number of new followers and potential customers you could have by simply using a hashtag or contest to bring of a more hands on approach by involving your consumers.
An Internet survey that was conducted 20-25 September 2013, focused on better understanding wine marketing strategies that would appeal to wine consumers in the Mid-Atlantic region (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania). Survey participant use of Instagram was one of the social media outlets that we investigated in our research. Below, in Table 1, are results that indicate participant use of Instagram and the percentages (segmented by age range, gender and state of residence) who actively use Instagram to either connect with family and/or friends and/or to connect with businesses or companies.
Table 1. Participants’ responses (%) to questions asked during one Internet survey (20-25 September 2013) detailing the percentage participants use Instagram as a social media outlet and percentage that find it mandatory for a winery to implement.
For the purpose of this post, we will focus specifically on the results for the percentage of participants who “actively use Instagram to connect with businesses or companies.” First, looking at the age range, participants who were between the ages of 21 and 24 were more likely to have used Instagram to connect with businesses (12.2%) from those between 35 and 64 years of age (6.4 and 0.6%, respectively); however, it is not statistically different from the second largest group of 24 to 34 year olds who use Instagram to connect with businesses (8.2%). Based on our results, it is clear that Millennials are most likely the main Instagram users who use the tool to connect with businesses, so it would be beneficial to use Instagram to specifically connect with this generation.
There were no statistical significant differences between genders or based on state of residence. Both males and females and participants from each of the three Mid-Atlantic states (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) were relatively equal in their use of Instagram to connect with companies.
Table 1 also portrays the percentage of participants who believe it is mandatory for a winery to have an Instagram account. Those aged 21 to 24 had the highest percentage of participants who responded that it was mandatory for wineries to have an Instagram account (18.3%), which was significantly greater than the percentages of participants in each of the other age ranges who felt this way. Again, there is no statistical difference between responses for this specific question based on gender. Pertaining to state of residence, more New Jersey participants (9.7%) responded that Instagram was mandatory for wineries to implement than Pennsylvania residents; however, neither differed (statistically) from the percentage of New York participants who responded this way.
Through our research we found that few of our survey participants, who were selected based on being a wine consumer, were using Instagram to connect with business or companies; however, general social-media research suggest that Younger Millenials (1980-2000s) are the primary users of Instagram. Based on the growing usage of Instagram and trends involving other social media outlets consumers use to connect with businesses, winery tasting rooms should at least investigate what social media tools (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram) their customers are using to connect with their business and others. It is possible that tasting room staff who do not use Instagram could be missing potential interaction with a portion of their target market.
So, why not learn more about Instagram? With so many beautiful pictures that can be taken at your tasting room, it is a simple way to share what goes on with customers through this outlet.
Noren, Laura. “Graphic Sociology.” The Society Pages. http://thesocietypages.org/graphicsociology/2011/10/04/who-is-the-millennial-generation-pew-research/. 4 October 2011.
Abigail Miller is a Master’s student at Penn State University, specializing in wine marketing. Her interests lie mainly within understanding the marketing and social media strategies appropriate for independent wineries, but she also enjoys learning about the production and wine making side of the business. Her hope is to one day become knowledgeable in all aspects of running a winery.
The project “Developing Wine Marketing Strategies for the Mid-Atlantic Region” (GRANT 11091317) is being funded by a USDA Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program grant, whose goal is “to assist in exploring new market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products and to encourage research and innovation aimed at improving the efficiency and performance of the marketing system.” For more information about the program, visit http://www.ams.usda.gov.
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