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SITUATED off the beaten track, Misha’s Vineyard found a way to connect to sommeliers and wine lovers around the world — social media.

According to its director Misha Wilkinson, Misha’s Vineyard is New Zealand’s most followed winery on Twitter with over 51,000 followers and 12,000 friends on Facebook.

“Our approach to social media is so that we can stay connected to customers friends and sommeliers.

“The use of social media is great as I could talk to sommeliers, wine writers, and restaurant proprietors on Twitter and Facebook and we regularly do updates. That means I’m online most of the time but it is important.

“I did not set it as a business page (on Facebook) as I prefer to have a more personal contact with people as the people whom we do business with become our friends,” she said. Wilkinson is also the New Zealand correspondent for a wine magazine.

She added, “We want to take people on a journey and get them to know more about the brand and feel like they are connected because not everyone can visit us so far south.

“Drinking wine is a pleasure, when people are drinking New Zealand wine, you conjure all these beautiful images. On our blog, which we regularly update, we take people through the process on the vineyard like during harvest when we pick the grapes and you can also see photos of the grapes this season,” she said.

Wilkinson does presentations in New Zealand on how to best use social media and was just asked to be the presenter at the New Zealand Wine Exporters Forum as she is active in the social media area. She has a whole set of beliefs when it comes to social media and feels that companies who have someone manning their twitter page miss out on opportunities.

“It is because social media is person to person, you have to know who you are having a chat with. We share about what we are doing, sometimes about how tough it is being a vineyard owner or how great it is.

“People become your friends and part of your community, that is the power of social media,” she said. For Wilkinson, it is about understanding where your potential customers are coming from.

“In places like Malaysia, the next generation of wine-drinkers, the millenials, they use twitter and facebook more than email to communicate. To educate people or talk to them about New Zealand, I do email and blog updates and use interfaces like Tweetdeck,” she said, adding that Twitter is incredibly powerful.

She feels that their usage of social media is what sets them apart from other brands.

“My greatest joy is when someone tries our wines and (tweets) saying ‘Hey, I’ve just tried Misha’s Vineyard Pinot Gris. I’ll do a search on Misha’s Vineyard’. I’ll use the Twitter handler and do a search on that, find someone and then go, ‘Thanks for trying the wine, I’m so glad you like the Pinot, I’m Misha’. People would go, ‘Oh my gosh, the vineyard owner sent me a note!’. That (social media interaction) is important yet easy to do,” she said.

She added, “I like to know who is drinking our wines and thank them for supporting us, that creates a nice connection.

“People expect to have a relationship with the brand and to have that personal contact. We are able to do it as we are a boutique brand.” Follow Misha’s Vineyard on www.facebook.com/mishasvineyard and @MishasVineyard.

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