Instagram Stories for Wineries

Harvest is here (for most), which means exciting things are happening around the winery at all times – making this the PERFECT time to play with Instagram’s newest feature, Instagram Stories. 

What are Instagram Stories?

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Instagram Stories are Instagram’s answer to Snapchat (don’t worry, you don’t have to get Snapchat to get Instagram Stories). You can spot Instagram Stories at the top of your Instagram feed – which is one reason why they are pretty powerful.  Tap one and you’ll see a single photo, video, or many photos pieced together to tell a quick “story”. 

Like Snapchat, each Instagram Story disappears within 24 hours (although you can save and repost it to your regular Instagram feed if you like it).  Unlike Snapchat, your winery is actually allowed to use Instagram Stories (Snapchat’s userbase is too young, according to the Wine Institute’s Digital Marketing Guidelines).

Why are Instagram Stories good for wineries? 

img_32261. As mentioned above, Instagram Stories sit atop your followers’ Instagram feeds.  Currently there is no algorithm that makes it so your Instagram Stories may or may not be seen by your users.  Your logo will sit at the top of their feeds until your 24 hours is up.  So, at the very least, they provide free advertising and branding.

2. Instagram Stories are an easy way to communicate a message. Like Snapchat, you can add text on top of your Instagram Stories to tell users what to do, or promote an event. “Wine Sale Happening, Visit Our Website”. “Winemaker Live on Facebook at 3pm Today”. “Get this recipe on our website. Link in bio”. Again. Free advertising.

3.  Stories aren’t expected to look professional quality. In fact, Stories are, in many ways, opposite the Instagram feed we are used to seeing. This removal of the Instagram filters and curated photos makes your followers feel like they are getting a real glimpse into something secret. You are creating for them a better behind-the-scenes, this-is-what-it’s-really-like experience, which only serves to solidify your consumer relationships.

4.  In addition to your regular Instagram followers, foodies and wine bloggers love Instagram, and they are using Instagram Stories.  Putting yourself in front of this group is a good thing.

5.  Stories provide an easy way to show off many moments in a day without clogging up your followers’ Instagram feeds (if you’re posting more than 2 times a day, you are posting too much).

6.  No pressure.  Users can’t like your story.  They can only watch it.  This takes the pressure of so many who are overly concerned about “likes” and “engagement”.  

7.  Super quick and easy to make and publish.  That’s a good thing during harvest, right? Take a few 10 second videos throughout the day, then sit down for one minute to string them together at the end of the day. It really is that easy. Take videos of your harvest meal prep, complete with the end product (recipes are huge on Instagram Stories, btw). Just have fun with it. Don’t stress. You all get so stressed over social media. This one is just easy.

How do I make an Instagram Story? 

Easy (have I mentioned that, yet?)  Go here and follow the instructions.  It should take you a full 3 minutes to figure out.

Have fun.  We are following many of you on Instagram, and we hope to see you at the top of our Instagram feed. In the meantime, get inspired by following the Instagram accounts:

@PremierWineEvents
@GaryVee
@Food&Wine
@AnthonyBourdain
@PonziWines

Fuzzy Images? Let’s Fix That.


Have you checked your website or e-mails recently and noticed that some of your images – images that once looked beautiful and crisp – now look not so great?

Bottleshots look blurry? Logos look foggy? Photos look fuzzy? Those fancy graphics you’re paying for from the best graphic designers look, well, not-so-fancy?

Why is this happening? Because for years web designers have been “web optimizing” images at 72ppi (pixels per inch), because 72ppi was the magic spot where images looked good on screen and they would load quickly. However, now (thanks primarily to all thinks Apple), high definition screens and retina displays are becoming the norm, and most things 72ppi are looking fuzzy.

So, what’s a winery that cares about high quality graphics to do? Get a new website? Not if fuzziness is your only issue (although you will want to make sure your next designer designs with high resolution screens in mind). There is a temporary solution — and it’s one that we’ve been using for a number of our clients with older websites, and ALL of our clients using Mailchimp.

Here it is: Size images so they are twice as big as you need them. Then define them at the height and width you want them to appear.

For example, if the space you have for an image is 300px X 300px, make sure your image is 600px X 600px. Then, if you are designing with plain old HTML, you can define the size inside the image tags like this:


<img src="http://www.yourwebsite.com/images/your-image-at-twice-the-size.jpg" width="300px" height="300px">

Even if you are working with a content management system (CMS), you can almost always add height and weight to the image tags that are generated – just make sure when you enter the height and width of your image, you enter the size you want (which will be half the size of the images you have).

Working with Mailchimp? In your image blocks, go to settings, and simply check “Constrain image dimensions by 50% for high-definition displays”. Don’t worry if you get a warning that your image is too big. As long as the size of your file isn’t too big (I try to keep images less thank 150k, but 500k is fine), your images will be delivered.

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This technique works for bottle shots, photos, graphics, logos – everything – as long as you have the bottle shots, photos, graphics, and logos at twice the size you need them. If you don’t have images twice the size that you need them, simply ask. Often times graphic designers and photographers have your original files – simply ask for them at 72ppi, at twice the size.

The #1 Reason Your Winery Doesn’t Want a Squarespace Website

As web designers, we are big fans of Squarespace. Their clean designs and super easy to build system makes it so we can pump out websites quickly and charge our clients less money. Win – win, right? Well, not necessarily.

IF you are like most of our clients you are a winery, and, if you are a winery, there is A HUGE reason why you don’t want a Squarespace site (and why you don’t see many wineries using Squarespace). Ready for it? OK. Here it is…

You can’t sell wine through your Squarespace site.

See, Squarespace eCommerce option uses Stripe to run any and all credit card transactions, and Stripe doesn’t allow for alcohol sales, as it doesn’t allow for sales of “age restricted goods or services”.

We contacted Stripe last year regarding their alcohol policy (we always check with new platforms when wanting to sell wine online), and they confirmed by stating:

If you were looking to sell wine online, we wouldn’t be able to provide our service, as our financial partners impose some fairly strict limitations on the type of businesses we can work with, and alcohol sales are on the list of excluded businesses.

To be clear, this is not because there’s a problem with your business. A few bad actors in the sector can unfortunately result in our financial partners being unwilling to accept the risk of providing credit services to this category of business.

I’m sorry we can’t do better for you, and wish you great success!

Now, we have seen a few Squarespace wine stores pop up recently, despite the fact that the policy remains the same. We have concerns about what happens to these wineries when/if Stripe becomes aware of the transactions. Maybe nothing will happen – but we don’t want our clients to be the ones who find out.

For now, we will continue to advise our clients to stay away from Squarespace’s eCommerce option until the rules change. If they are stuck on Squarespace (which is fine, they are pretty sites), linking to an external store, or adding an order form to the site will have to do the job…for now.

Facebook’s local ads are fantastic for wineries

If you follow any news coming out of the social media world, you’ve probably heard that Facebook launched a “Call Now” button this week. And, while it’s a pretty slick little button for many businesses it’s not incredibly exciting news for wineries (at least, not in its current form). The reason it’s not incredibly exciting news is because it can only be utilized as part of Facebook’s recently launched “Local Awareness” ad campaigns – which means it’s only active for people in your local area. Kind of a bummer, right? A “Call Now” button that could be used to promote upcoming events or promotions to audiences beyond the immediate area could be extremely useful. Alas, it’s not happening (yet).

However, did you catch the whole “Local Awareness” ad campaign thing? In case you missed it, let me repeat: There are now Facebook ads that can be served only to people in your immediate area, who are using any device.

Considering the fact that many wine country visitors are actively engaged on Facebook while they are out wine tasting (snapping photos, sharing photos, checking into wineries, updating statuses, seeing what their friends are doing, etc.), this is pretty powerful stuff.

For example, this weekend is the Willamette Valley’s Memorial Day Weekend Open House. All WVWA wineries open their doors for the masses. There will be thousands of people in the Willamette Valley tasting wine and spending money. Your winery’s goal should be to get them to spend money in your tasting room. Of course, the first step is getting them through your door.

Here is how you would set up a “Local Awareness” ad that will hit people in your local area.

  1. Go here.
  2. Select “Reach People Near Your Business.”
  3. Select your desired Map Radius. I selected a three mile radius for Vista Hills Vineyard and Winery, which perfectly surrounds people tasting in the Dundee Hills. (Note, I set the age to 28+, as age is one of the few variables you can edit with these ads).
    vista-ad
  4. Set your budget ($25/day is fine), and the time you want it to run.
  5. Choose your graphic.
  6. Write your copy. Hit them with an ad that speaks directly to them (i.e. mention where they are), then lead them to your tasting room with a little carrot.
    ads
  7. Finally, don’t forget that “Get Directions” button, which will lead them directly to your tasting room.
  8. Pretty fantastic, right?

    What makes these ads even more fantastic? They are the easiest ads to set up (as you can see from above), AND the most affordable. Win, win.

Facebook Makes Another Big Change (and Why You Shouldn’t Care)

grumpy

Remember, just a year ago, when you were supposed to post photos to get the best organic reach on Facebook? Well, surprise, those days are gone.

According to Socialbakers (courtesy of Marketing Land), photo posts now drive the LOWEST organic reach, below text-only and link posts, and well below Facebook’s new darling — videos.

Generally, we are seeing this trend being reflected on the accounts of our clients. Videos are getting crazy views, whereas photos have to be pretty darn impressive to gain some traction.

And, of course, Facebook weighs the video heavily now because they are trying to get into the video game. And they pulled back on photos because word got out that photos were the best way to reach people, so page admins started using photos as link bait, thus ruining the fun for the rest of us.

Want to know more about Facebook Video? Check out our Webinar here:
Lunabean Wine Webinar: Facebook 2015 – 2 Changes You Need to Know

So, what’s a legitimate page admin to do? More videos? Sure. Facebook doesn’t care if your video was produced for thousands of dollars, or by your smartyphone, so throw Facebook a bone and post an occasional video. But don’t get worked up over it — because, soon, the link baiters of the world will ruin videos, too. Which is why you go with the Lunabean Media solution for all things interwebs.

The Lunabean Media solution for all things interwebs

Are you ready for it? It’s not much of a secret. In fact, Matthew Broderick figured it out back in 1983: “The only winning move is not to play”.

falken

We learned this one in the early 00s, when everyone was trying to get higher Google rankings with the latest SEO tips and tricks. Invisible text, keyword overload, link naming, inbound linking, etc. Some tricks legitimately helped. Some would get you punished by Google. So, we just stopped playing, and we simply made sure that our website did what we said it did. We offered video game strategy guides.

Suddenly, our Google rankings jumped. Our guides were above those of IGN and Gamespot (huge corporate sites for those who aren’t familiar with the gaming world).

We found great success with this method, and it continues to be our strategy for all things social media.

Stop sweating it, and post what is easy and makes you happy. If you like taking photos, then take photos. Don’t let some silly stat about organic reach, something that didn’t even exist three years ago, tell you how to communicate with your customers. Don’t get worked up over your ratio of promotional posts to non-promotional posts. Be smart, but don’t get caught up in the game of getting more views, because you will, ultimately, lose.

Go about your businesses sharing what you love about your winery. Then, when you want to post something you REALLY want your fans to see – a promotion, an event, a sale, an announcement – spend $20 bucks and advertise (not boost) the post.

Have a problem with Facebook ads? Get over it. They work. They are effective. They save you time and energy of trying to game the system. And, think about it, if you could spend just $20 to advertise your promotion in print, you’d do it. Facebook is arguably more effective.

So, there you have it. Know the trends, but don’t obsess over them. Use Facebook’s affordable and effective advertising to get the word out about your promotions, and you’ll be happier and more successful than anyone who is trying to game this ever changing system that is Facebook.

Now, how about a nice game of chess?

How Wineries Should Use Facebook’s New Call to Action Button

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As you know by now, Facebook is constantly changing the rules for businesses. When they first launched the “new” business page, complete with a timeline and a cover photo, we were telling wineries to use their cover as an ad.

The top of your winery’s Facebook page became the perfect place to advertise a recent score, an event, a promotion, or a sale. Then it was gone. The rules changed. Facebook said, “Don’t use your cover photo as an ad”. And to make sure you didn’t, it restricted the amount and size of text allowed on your cover photo. Your winery’s virtual billboard was dead.

Wineries were stuck with competing images of vineyards, or wine glasses, or people having fun at winery events. *yawn*.

Well, good news. Facebook changed its mind. Again. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that Zuckerberg & Co. are now encouraging businesses to use their cover photo as an ad.

Not only has Facebook lifted the restriction on text, BUT, it is rolling out a “Call to Action” button for business pages that your winery can use to meet your advertising needs.

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Get a great score? Show it off on your cover photo and use the “Shop Now” button.

Have an event? Announce it on your cover photo and use the “Book Now” button.

Want people to join your e-mail list? Put that “Sign Up” button to work.

Have a great new video? Use “Watch Video”.

It’s a great way to put Facebook to work for you winery. Use it in conjunction with a smartly targeted Facebook ad, and it could really make an impact on your promotions.

Please note, Jeremy discusses this new feature in our most recent webinar, “Facebook 2015: 2 Major Changes You Need to Know”. Although, this wasn’t one of the 2 Major changes. For those, you’ll have to watch the webinar.

OH, finally, your new Call to Action button will be next to your page’s “Like” button when Facebook has rolled it out to your page. You’ll also get a big notification on your page when it’s ready. In other words, you’ll know when it’s available to your page.

Chatbooks: Our Favorite App for Wineries (and Families) of 2014

My girlsAs a mother of two young girls, I use my personal Instagram account to record and share photos of my girls growing up. Some of these photos get printed and framed, but most of them rest quietly, deep inside the servers of Instagram, just hoping to be revisited some day.

But revisiting them online just doesn’t have the same appeal as pulling out family albums, sitting on my living room floor, and looking at actual photos — which is what led me to our favorite family app of 2014, and, ultimately, our favorite winery app of 2014.

The app is called Chatbooks. Using Chatbooks you can select 60 of your favorite Instagram photos to create a 6″ x 6″ bound book of those photos to be mailed to you. The cost? $6/book. Shipping is FREE. Which is why we now have shelves that looks like this:

Chatbooks

Chatbooks are awesome. I look through them. The kids look through them. Guests look through them. All of those photos, all of those memories and all of that work, seemingly plucked out of the Internet, and placed in my home. They are easily my favorite discovery of 2014.

Which is why Jeremy and I started thinking of ways that we could use these Chatbooks for our Instagram-loving winery clients. Here’s what we came up with:

  • Wine Club Gifts
  • Tasting Room Displays
  • Gift Pack/Case Purchase Add Ons
  • Invitations to Special VIP Events (cover photo is the invite)
  • Thank You Gifts (thanks for attending winemakers dinner – here are photos of the event)
  • Event Gifts
  • Contest Prizes

And, of course, you can order several and sell them in your tasting room. Really, the possibilities are limitless.

In 2014 we strongly suggested focusing on Instagram, as it is such a great promotional tool for wineries. We are thrilled to end the year by sharing with you this little gem of an app – payoff for all of your hard work.

Why Wineries Should Avoid Image-Only E-Mails

We have been noticing a trend over the past few months of wineries wanting to improve upon the look of their e-mails. We love this. After all, a smartly designed and well crafted newsletter can move more product than any other online marketing initiative.

And, while we know that text-only e-mails are still the most effective, branding is important to every winery, and e-mail is a strong tool to use for branding purposes.

This is why, when we create e-mails for our clients, there is a balance of both branding graphics and text.

Examples of e-mails we send - full or pretty graphics AND text.
Examples of e-mails we send – branding graphics AND text.

However, we have definitely been seeing an increase in image-only e-mails over the past few months. They are beautiful. The branding is solid. The wine is gorgeous. And, if these e-mails were anywhere near as effective as graphic/text e-mails, we’d start using them immediately. But they aren’t, so we don’t.

There is no shortage of articles that explain why your e-mails shouldn’t be image-only. Generally, the biggest reason businesses should avoid using image-only e-mails is because they aren’t mobile-friendly. I can’t speak for all businesses, or all wineries, but, I can tell you that, of those opening our clients’ e-mails, 60%+ of them are doing so from a mobile-device. Which means, if we send out image-only e-mails, 60%+ of people receiving them can’t easily read them – which means most won’t read them.

This is how big this image-only e-mail would appear on your iPhone.  Pretty challenging to read.  Although the biggest crime here is that they forget to name the newly rated wines then drop you into the store's front page when you click "Shop". People have no idea what they are looking for.
This is how big this image-only e-mail would appear on your iPhone. Pretty challenging to read. Although the biggest crime here is that they forget to name the newly rated wines then drop you into the store’s front page when you click “Shop”. People are lost.

There are many more study-backed arguments against image-only e-mails, ranging from getting stuck in SPAM filters to making customers feel marketed to, however, our reasons for being anti-image-only e-mail is due to our own unscientific study, done just this past year.

Believe it or not, we have clients who go against our years of e-mail marketing wisdom (shocking, I know! 😉 ). We are here to consult and we here to serve. So, when a client asks for us to do something, we share our thoughts, then we do as they ask. And, on two occasions we were asked to send image-only e-mails designed by their graphic designers.

One image-only e-mail was an invitation to a great event in wine country. A GREAT event. One of the best we’ve ever seen out there. There was space for 24 people. The image-only e-mail got 4 reservations. Four. We followed up a week later with an e-mail that contained smaller images pulled from the graphic designer’s e-mail combined with copy we wrote, and we filled the rest of the seats.

This past holiday season one of our winery clients offered gift packs. The image-only e-mail sold five such packs. A week later we followed up with a text/image combo and sold 40. Forty.

Again, we love how image-only e-mails look. We understand the draw. But, the technology simply isn’t there yet to serve them up correctly, and your audience isn’t ready to embrace them. When both the technology and audience are there, we will be the first to let you know.

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By the way, we will be launching an e-mail service in 2015, which will include templates, copyediting, and consulting. Premier accounts will also include copywriting and promotional planning. Contact us now to get in on early-bird pricing.

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How Google is Punishing (or Rewarding) Your Winery

Have you done any Google searches on your mobile-device lately? Chances are, the answer is yes, which means you’ve seen the new “Mobile-friendly” designation next to mobile-friendly websites:

Google Winery

The implications of this new search engine designation is somewhat obvious for wineries. More and more people are using their mobile-devices to visit winery websites (we see a 33% mobile visitor average among our client websites — that percentage jumps to 50%+ via local searches, meaning visitors to the area are using mobile devices more frequently when deciding where to go and what wines to purchase). Wineries that are designated “Mobile-friendly” are going to get more hits, and therefore, more visitors (and buyers) than those left undesignated.

Worse yet (for the non-mobile crowd), there is now speculation that Google will soon start lowering the pagerank of non-mobile-friendly websites.

Ugh.

Dare to see if your website is one that Google deems to be Mobile-friendly? Use their tool here: Google Mobile-Friendly Test.

Even if you think your website is mobile-friendly, plug in your website to make sure. Here are the results from a new client who said their web designer told them their website was mobile-friendly:

(Tip: Just because your website comes up on an iPhone doesn’t mean it’s mobile-friendly.)

So, what’s a non-mobile friendly winery to do?

It should be no surprise that our suggestion would be a new website. After all, websites can be surprisingly affordable and easier to build than they were just a few years ago (we are always happy to provide you with a free quote). Further, with this new Google information, it’s becoming clear that those without mobile-friendly websites will soon take a search engine hit.

HOWEVER, we also know that, no matter how affordable a new website might be, it might not be in your 2015 budget.  

So a lower cost solution might be to have your web designer implement those tips Google provides when your run your site through its Mobile-Friendly test.  Then they should use Google's  step-by-step instructions to convert your current site into something that is more mobile-friendly. Please note, these instructions won’t work for all websites, but they will work for some, albeit as a Band-Aid solution.

No matter your path – a new website or fixing what you have – we strongly suggest a mobile-friendly solution be a priority for your winery in 2015. If it’s not, you may suffer consequences beyond anything we’ve seen before.

Why Your Winery Can Stop Worrying About SEO

SEO for WineYou work at a winery, which means you have people promoting their SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) services to you a half-dozen times per month — if not more.

They promise higher search engine rankings, more visits to your winery’s website, and increased online sales.

They cite stats like “x% of online wine sales originate from search engines” (misleading), or that your winery isn’t appearing when using very specific search terms. And, of course, they promise their services will help boost online sales.

While there are a very small handful of SEO and SEM experts who can truly help boost your winery’s online sales, I am here to tell you that most wineries don’t need the SEO experts and most wineries need to beware of the SEM experts.

Let me explain why. First, let’s start with SEO.

Why Your Winery Doesn’t Need a SEO Expert

wine-seo-expertFirst and foremost, SEO is different than it was just a few years ago. Not only is it personalized (Google search results are dependent on your own personal search history, the websites you visit, your location, the device you’re using, and even your social media connections), but SEO is now bigger than just SEO.

In fact, SEO is about so much more than SEO that SEOmoz.com, the authority on SEO for many years, recently dropped the “SEO” from its name and is now just “Moz.com”. Their excuse? SEO is no longer just about keyword manipulation, smart urls, and meta tags — it’s about all inbound marketing (social media, e-mail, unique quality content, etc.).

This boils down to the fact that boosting your winery’s SEO is a big job — a job most wineries have neither the time, nor the marketing budget to take on.

Of course, the good news is that your winery doesn’t need to worry about SEO like it did years ago. Search engines are smarter. They can identify a brand and will put it above all other results (retailers, bloggers, etc.). They correct misspellings. They use location. If someone is looking for it, your winery will be found.

And THAT is who is important: The people who are already seeking out your brand. SEO for wineries isn’t about creating a one off sale to someone who happened to stumble onto that site (which is what most experts promote). It’s about creating wine club members from those who already know your brand.

And that is not accomplished by hiring a SEO expert to put their bag of tricks to work boosting your winery’s SEO. It’s about cleaning up website descriptions so you can seal the deal. It’s about making sure your information on Google is correct. It’s about showing off (and collecting) reviews. It’s about getting people into your tasting room, and grabbing their e-mail address when they are there. It’s about showing off ratings. It’s about making them choose your winery.

All of these things you can do without hiring a SEO expert — you just have to know some basics that can be implemented by you. And, it just so happens, we have an upcoming webinar that will teach you these basics (FREE for LMO for Wineries subscribers). No expert necessary.

Wine Webinar

Click Here to Sign Up for SEO and SEM for Wineries Webinar

And, please note, we aren’t here to trash SEO experts. In fact, we like to believe we have a certain degree of expertise in the field. We just don’t think there’s much room for them when it comes to known brands.

Beware of SEM experts

We also love Search Engine Marketing (SEM). In fact, our upcoming webinar will also touch on some of some of our favorite SEM techniques. HOWEVER, we strongly urge you to be aware of Search Engine Marketers in the wine industry. Here’s why: Because of everything you just read above.

Your winery’s own SEO will put it at the top of nearly every organic search result for your winery. So, why pay a SEM expert to buy Google Ads that will only be placed above your own organic search results? They steal your own search results, then brag about the success of their Google Ad techniques. Worse yet, some of you are paying them a commission of sales generated from that link — a link they would have clicked anyway (trust me, we have seen this happen).

If you want a solid SEM expert, tell them you won’t pay for any ads that use your winery’s name (or basic variations thereof) in the keywords, because you are already grabbing top ranking for those searches on your own. If the SEM expert runs for the hills, you’re better off. If they don’t, you might actually have a true SEM expert on your hands. And that person is worth every penny.