Published 27 June 2011
In October 2010, I wrote about how the wine industry views technology; and it wasn’t pretty. One company even asked “… just how can technology earn us any money?”
I recently found a beautiful example of how social media benefitted one wine company. What started out as a potential nightmare for the company was quickly turned on its head to become, I think, a display of support that any company would be proud of.
It all begins in April 2011 when Which? magazine published a report entitled “Wine Clubs Compared”. The magazine reported The Wine Society as the clear winner, winning full marks for delivery, managing orders, quality and range (four of the six categories). Accolades also went to Waitrose Wine Direct and Tesco Wine; but the bottom two were Naked Wines and Virgin Wines (Naked scoring particularly low for range, while Virgin failed on quality and value for money). And although the article mentioned Naked’s Angel Scheme, it added a caveat that made it sound as if you lost your monthly investment if you didn’t buy each month (whereas it actually just goes into your account and can be spent at any time in the future).
In the old days, this would have been a crushing blow to any CEO, who would have been calling the marketing team into crisis talks to avert a major PR disaster.
But what happened next would bring a lump to the throat of anyone involved in social media – and should have the theme from the Dam Busters playing in the background.
Customers of Naked Wines rallied. They went to Which?’s community forum and posted their support. And they posted. And they posted. Some tried to quench the onslaught by suggesting that “something fishy” was going on: “NW offer their customers credit against purchases whenever they comment positively about them social networking sites.” This resulted in a further onslaught of comments from the army of Naked customers pointing out that they were genuine customers and received no incentives or benefits for such comments.
Further accusations flew, this time saying that the comments were so well written that they were actually by Naked Wines employees: “they seem to have been sub-edited before publication”. This was again rebutted by a flurry of posts from the Naked army (now there’s an image!). There was even a post from one of Naked’s wine makers, Ryan O’Connell, that received Which?’s accolade of Comment of the Week, meaning that it was featured on the site’s homepage for a week. Of the 85 comments on the forum to date, nearly half are positive comments about Naked Wines.
And what was Naked Wines’ involvement in this discussion? Naked Wines’ boss, Rowan Gormley, posted a single comment consisting of two sentences. It simply confirmed “no customer has ever been offered credits for positive or negative postings”. That was all. Just one comment.
Now there is a lesson on how social media can benefit a wine company.
To see the comments in full, go to Which Conversation.