A couple of weeks ago, I ranted about my frustration with Online Wine Tastings. Basically, my issue with online tastings is pretty straight forward: most of the time I am not sure as to the goal of the particular event. In other words I need an answer to the question “Why are we all here?”
Despite the opinion of a few, I do not rant just for the sake of kvetching, and I am certainly not just looking to simply generate hits on my blog. I rant with the goal of stimulating dialogue around an issue that I find confusing, troubling, or both.
In that regard, the rant was a bit of a success. While some of the dialogue occurred in the comments section of my blog, there was even more discussion over on Facebook, and even a few emails sent my way.
Based on the various conversations, I can confidently say that I was wrong, or perhaps more precisely, I did not direct the issue finely enough to arrive at the source of my angst.
In that previous post, I enumerated a few reasons why I was frustrated with online tastings. Based on several conversations, I now see that there are many positives to be had as well:
- Engagement. Thea of Luscious Lushes pointed out that getting writers engaged is reason enough alone to conduct these tastings. Getting a group of bloggers involved who appreciate the brand and their attention will then cause them to engage their readers and friends, thus generating sales.
- Community. Alina of One Girl, One Glass, One World and Elizabeth of Traveling Wine Chick both mentioned that online wine chats help build a sense of community among bloggers and between bloggers and the industry. I will admit that part of the reason that I do these chats is to “see” people that I do not get a chance to interact with all that often.
Exposure. Joe of 1WineDude effectively reminded me of Occam’s Razor (the simplest explanation is often correct) with his comment that any exposure is good exposure. Online chats, I imagine, are a fairly inexpensive way to get people “talking” about a product. Many bloggers have a bunch of followers on Twitter, thus creating the potential of significant exposure for the brand.
- Fun. I have to admit that online tastings are usually fun. As I mentioned above, they provide the opportunity to reconnect with people across the country that otherwise would likely not happen. It gives me practice in expressing thoughts in less than 140 characters (definitely a chore for me), and it can break up a rather mundane weekly schedule.
So, despite my soap-boxing a couple of weeks ago, I know I will still partake in a few online chats for the above reasons. Does that make me a hypocrite? Perhaps, but I prefer to see it as “exhibiting an ability for growth” (how is that for a positive spin?).
There are several changes I will make in my approach, however:
- Goals. A couple of weeks ago I lamented that I never understood what the goals were for any particular chat. Over the last two weeks I realized that I also never asked, which makes me at least equally culpable in the end.
- Prepared. Quite simply, I need to better prepare for these chats. Perusing the website five minutes before the start of the event does not constitute “preparation” and that falls squarely on me. I realize that part of the reason that I felt that the chats did not make sense rested with the fact that often times I did not know what to say.
- Relax. Even before my days in graduate school, I tended to over analyze just about everything. I do feel pretty fortunate that there are people out there that care what I say (or at least seem to care), and that some of them are willing to send me some of their wine to taste. As I often say: “That’s better than a sharp stick in the eye.”