Friends, fans and followers: Social Media Marketing in Sonoma

Sonoma is overrun with “social media marketers.” It’s a hazard of living in wine country, I suppose, since our namesake industry was one of the first to fully-embrace social media as a means of marketing to “friends,” “fans and “followers” alike. Before nonbelievers misconstrue social media marketing as some sort of digital pyramid scheme, perhaps a primer is in order.

My shorthand: Social Media Marketing is a cocktail party wherein Community and Content are in the corner canoodling. In this metaphor, your brand is either a host or a guest and, if you’re lucky, a canoodler. Your brand provides a forum for others to share their experiences with one another through user-generated content – from blogs, comments, microblogs, videos, podcasts, forums and wikis to all manner of emerging media. Attract the right guests and interesting conversations develop. Attract the wrong ones and the fuzz breaks up the party.

As such, social media marketing goes well beyond merely creating profiles on every new platform (Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, DHowell.com). When conducted properly, it leverages the connectivity these spaces create between you and your brand’s fans. The social web is an opportunity to reach key influencers and managing brand perception while building awareness and supporting your end-users in supporting your brand’s evolution and fostering positive brand equity (sigh). But enough marketing-speak.

Geyserville-based winery Murphy Goode wanted it so bad last year, they held a high-profile contest to recruit social media maven Hardy Wallace and bring him in-house for a $10K a month gig to beat tweets and book face-time on Facebook. It worked and not only brought increased awareness to his employers but also to the possibilities of social media itself. Soon, every wine marketer in town was jonesing to keep up with the Goode, the bad and the fugly.

Several local businesses have sprung up to help in this regard. Most visible, given the tenacity with which they flak for their clients, is the estimable team of Donna Hays and Celeste Winders (who function under the whimsical moniker WordMice). If you so much as looked in the direction of our local film festival last week, you were likely deluged with dozens of updates on a handful of different platforms. When a board-member publicly lamented how the festival operated on “half a shoe string,” WordMice provided the social media equivalent of Croqs – cheap, ubiquitous and deceptively comfortable – and strutted its stuff all over the Internet. Another local entity, CliCKmarkets, will soon be launching its Wide Angle Metrics initiative that will enable a granular snapshot of one’s “buzz and sentiment” as represented online and whether your social media efforts are actually working or if your tweet fell in the forest and nobody heard.

On the other side of the social media paradigm is Valley personality Veronica Torres who’s making a concerted effort to be “The Next Top Spiritual Author,” via a contest co-sponsored by publisher Hampton Roads. Torres has managed to stand apart from the 3,000 other contestants by marshalling a phalanx of supporters, not least of which are her immediate collaborators, who are scattered through the world and kibbitz online media. Her project’s social media strategists offered their services gratis from Chicago, which proves the adage, “Where ever you go, there you are – at least if you’re online.” (Vote for Torres at tinyurl.com/voteforveronica).

Sonoma’s own Jess Poshepny, a.k.a. “Moxie_Lady” on Twitter, runs the social media program for Trione Vineyards and Winery and somehow finds the time to manage Sonoma Valley’s de facto Facebook presence at the pithy url Facebook.com/SonomaIsland. The “friend” count will soon close 1,200, which is well over 10 percent of the City of Sonoma’s population. Now, if every member sent Poshepny a dollar, imagine the amount of Glariffees she could buy at the Swiss? Now, that’s a social media metric worth retweeting.

“Fan” Daedalus Howell at Facebook.com/DHowellTV and “follow” at Twitter.com/DHowellcom. Visit him virtually at DHowell.com.