There's a lot of research and hype around social media and how it can be used to lure customers to wine brands. Frankly, I've always been sceptical about whether these things work to that purpose.
Of course I’m only one person in a gazillion but I'd never buy wine from Facebook or Twitter. Twitter I use to connect with the wine world and Facebook I use to connect with friends and family. I also use it to stalk people. There, I said it. I'm a Facebook stalker.
But, according to Dr Roberta Veale, senior marketing lecturer at the University of Adelaide, I'm far from the only one.
For the past couple of years Dr Veale has been exploring how social media affects consumers’ brand loyalty. She is spearheading a project called Wine as a Social Bond, which seeks to provide an understanding of how to develop wine based e-marketing strategies from a consumer point of view.
She believes consumer loyalty is at the forefront of all wine purchasing behaviour.
"If you have a good time at a winery with friends and have positive memories, you are more likely to tell your friends about it and seek out their wines," she says.
Of course one can't always be there to create these memories. However, using online tools and a couple of cameras, Dr Veale is breaking these rules. She's come up with what's known as an interactive 'Wine Room.'
This is an online community forum where a couple of winemakers are filmed through a live stream that people from anywhere around the world can connect to and have their queries answered - by the winemaker and other participants.
I first heard about the project last year and was pretty excited by it. I've written about it a couple of times in the Grapegrower & Winemaker (ask me, ask me, ask me!) and, last month, I was lucky enough to experience it first hand.
As part of the event, participants tasted and talked about the 2010 Chateau Tanunda 'Terroirs of the Barossa': Greenock Shiraz, Ebenezer Shiraz and the Lyndoch Shiraz.
It's a simple idea and one that works well to promote Australian wine. It's to connect consumers with the winemakers, create loyalty by allowing them a platform to understand the terroir and wine, directly from the producers who make it in our own backyard.
For more information, visit: www.facebook.com/winesocialbond