Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wine, Social Media, Sex and me - explained.

I've avoided trying to explain or describe or adequately define what's going on with media, social media, this blog, my wine work, Black Cloud and me up until now because I wasn't quite comfortable with my abilities to tie it all together.

But thanks to an old joke that I've mostly forgotten, I think I can give it a try.

First, if you're reading this, you've got at least a passing acquaintance with social media. Mostly if not all web/internet based, it's all those things (platforms, applications) like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, weBlogs that allow people (messengers) to inform others (message receivers) about stuff. Any segment of social media worth its salt then allows robustly active conversation around those messages.

How does that differ from old media?

Television, radio and print (even standing in the park on a soapbox) are mostly about one-way message delivery. The messenger crafts the message and then unleashes it on a mass audience, more or less confident that it will deliver the concept to most receivers most of the time.

As receivers, we just lie there and take it. Interaction has been limited to talk radio phone-ins, letters to the editor and heckling in the park.

So in the old joke there's a woman and a man having sexual relations and after it's over (as far as he's concerned) the man asks "Was it good for you?" (market research).

She responds, "Blue."

He asks quizzically, "Blue?"

She replies, "Yes, blue. I think I'll paint the ceiling blue".

Despite being confident he was delivering the right message, the messenger had no idea what the receiver was thinking or if she was even receptive. As they like to point out in the socmed world - message delivery = fail.

In new media, there's plenty of two-way communication from the start. Sure, things can foul up.

And social media won't replace old media but it will form a complimentary path.

By now you're aware that for the most part this is about selling things. But it's more than that. It's about giving people options in their lives and giving them choices. Its about those choices being qualified and vetted by their peers and other like-minded folk before committing resources. More than just dollars, those resources include time and something I like to call place of mind.

With so much information out there, having a band of brothers (and sisters) out there is like having your own socio-economic support group. Here's another sad attempt at an analogy.

Woody Allen is a recognized genius in world of cinema. However, there are varying degrees of Woody Allen fans. Some despise him and are not fans at all. Some will watch the movies but are critical of his off-screen life. Others will eat the whole buffet.

Social media allows you to surround yourself with the Woody Allen fans that approximate your degree of involvement. It's like going to the theatre and everybody is already on board the Woody Allen train. Not that there isn't the thrust and parry of criticism, but there is a genuine level of involvement not present in a random crowd.

As I prepare to launch my new wine brand Black Cloud, I'm considering what media to use to spread the word. In my mind, most old (mass) media is scattershot. You put out an ad in the paper or on TV and cross your fingers that you hit something. With social media, I think I can connect with people who have a degree of interest in what I'm doing. Using the right channels, I can talk to people who have already identified themselves as wine people. There's a focus in social media I don't see in mass media.

At least to start with, I'll be using social media almost exclusively to promote Black Cloud wine. I hope to make the suggestion, have a conversation and sell a few bottles of wine directly to the fans and winos who inhabit this world.

With a little luck, I'll avoid getting the answer "blue" when I ask the question.

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