The Sunday Telegraph today carries a story about business success coming from a word-of-mouth campaign carried out on blogs.
Stormhoek, the South African winery that Hugh Macleod help blog its way to becoming one of the first global microbrands (Mr Macleod’s phrase) gets a lovely write-up under the headline "A very fruity sauvignon blog".
The article goes on to mention a "risky" blogging exercise carried out by Cadbury Schweppes that encouraged graduate trainees to write about working at the company.
There are two interesting things about the article. First, the Sunday Telegraph business section is not given to frothy hype about new trends, and so it stresses hard business benefits (Stormhoek now has 20% of South African wine sales over £5 in the UK and sales have doubled over the past year). Second, it concludes by questioning the sustainability of the campaign, i.e. "keeping bloggers interested in it".
It’s a fair point – this is one of the first campaigns of its kind. No one knows how it will develop , least of all the guys at Stormhoek:
"I don’t know where the dialogue will go next," [owner Nick Dymoke-Marr] says. "The thing is
that you can’t control the message. You just wind it up and let it go."
It’s that willingness to embrace risk and relinquish the illusion of control over a message that has allowed them to be successful, for sure. This is one of the biggest challenges for more established brands wanting to connect with social media.
I liked Richard Edelman’s point when discussing his company’s Trust Barometer 2006: [I paraphrase] you think you are minimising risk by not engaging with blogging, but you’re not – you’re maximising risk by being absent from the conversations your customers are having about you.
(Note the first thing Stormhoek does with their mainstream media coverage is blog about it. Amplify that coverage, guys – smooth moves. Hope you’re now emailing the link to your blog and the article to anyone you think might not see it.)