Italian Wine 2.0: Social Media Marketin of Italian Producers

Verona, February 24th, 2012 - We live in an increasingly digital world where information about virtually any subject is just a click away. Wine lovers can research anything from the origins of Italy's more than 700 autochthonous grapes, to the average price of a wine on sites like winesearcher.com, share tasting notes with friends on specialized sites such as snooth.com and cellartracker.com or through social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.

Daniela Mastroberardino

How are Italian wineries using the myriad of free social networking tools available today? OperaWine conducted a survey amongst some of Italy's finest producers including: Allegrini, Argiolas, Avignonesi, Bisol, Cantina Ferrari, Carpene Malvolti, Carpineto, Castello Banfi, Col d'Orcia, Donnafugata, Feudi di San Gregorio, Les Crêtes, Livio Felluga, Lungarotti, Masi, Marchesi de' Frescobaldi, Mastrojanni, Mezzacorona, Tasca d'Almerita, Tedeschi, Tenuta Argentiera, Tenuta dell'Ornellaia, Tenute Sella & Mosca and Umani Ronchi on their past and present use of social media and future strategies.

Participants of the survey were asked which of the following tools they used: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Of the wineries surveyed 80% were using one or more of the above, whilst 20% were not using any form of social media but had plans to do so this year. In fact, most of the wineries had only started integrating social media in their communication plan in 2011.

Not surprisingly, Facebook was the most popular (70%) followed closely by Twitter (55%). Some wineries such as the Campania based, Feudi di San Gregorio have as many as 12,000 fans on their Facebook page. According to Antonio Capaldo of Feudi, "it is clear that we do not have measurable results of the effects of having a FB community. However, we have good participation to the content we post. In addition approx. 1% of our fans are involved in different events/activities in the biggest cities (mainly Rome)."

Twitter's influence, particularly amongst the much coveted "Millennials" is steadily increasing. A study last year by Pew Internet and American Life Project, finds the number of users has doubled over the past two years. Italian wineries are taking note. Practically all those surveyed not yet using the microblogging site, listed Twitter as the next social media platform they will be using. "We prefer Twitter because we believe it is easier, more immediate and more manageable within our structure" says, Michele Bernetti, of Umani Ronchi.

LinkedIn was the least used (20%), although wine groups on LinkedIn are extremely popular and can be found abundantly but it remains a B2B communication platform rather than B2C and this applies to the wine industry as well. Vinitaly International for example, has a group of over 1,500 members. A who's who of the Italian wine industry (producers, importers, journalists) can be found interacting regularly on discussion forums with topics ranging from "What factors affect the buying behavior of Hong Kong wine lovers" to "Italy's Sustainable Viticulture".

Daniela Mastroberardino

Other forms of social media wineries are using more sparingly, include Google + and YouTube. Many were active on sites such as snooth.com and keen to collaborate with bloggers. According to Andrea Orsini, Communication & Media PR Manager for Tenuta dell'Ornellaia, high on their social priority list is to organize a tasting with top bloggers from around the world.

Increased visibility in international markets, appealing to the Millennials, consolidating and renewing a connection with existing consumers in Italy (which has seen a steady decline in wine consumption), these are some of the goals Italian wineries are hoping to achieve with the help of social media tools.

OperaWine has been collaborating closely with the participating wineries to bring further attention to the excellence of Italian wine. It engages daily on it's newly opened Twitter account (@MyOperaWine) which in less than a month has attracted over 700 followers and through a frequently updated website, containing a series of articles, videos and photos of the selected producers.

Its latest initiative is a contest where two Italian wine lovers will be able to win tickets to OperaWine by visiting the website (www.operawine.it) and recording a message on the video of the homepage answering the question: "What makes you fall in love with Italian wine?" The most passionate Italian wine aficionados will have the chance to rub elbows with Italy's most renown producers at "Finest Italian Wines, 100 Great Producers."