Out of a spark of romanticism – and maybe a little curiosity, I decided to take a stroll around the digital block to visit one of my old favourite haunts so to speak – the Bruichladdich Distillery blog by Mark Reynier.
I guess I just wanted to see if maybe, just maybe – I just simply missed getting a notification. And that there was maybe one of their trademark funny, often snarky but usually informative blog posts just sitting there waiting to be read. That maybe it had been taken over by someone and was resurrected just like the distillery was in 2000.
Sadly – there wasn’t. There was no notification. There was no blog post.
In fact, ever since Bruichladdich was bought by French beverage group Remy Cointreau, the distillery blog has fallen eerily silent – and all the wonderful quirky personality that is, or was Bruichladdich rather, under the previous regime of the blog’s writer Mark Reynier and whisky rockstar Jim McEwan – seems to have moved on as they have.
And I’m not pointing fingers at Remy by any means and labelling them as being the bad guy in all of this. What I am doing is noticing that why I loved Bruichladdich so much before – is that they had personality.
That and that alone kept me coming back to the Bruichladdich website. And now that it’s gone silent. I haven’t been back since, except to drop in and see if that old spark is there. And it isn’t.
Though they have kept up their news posts.
And it made me pose the question to myself, “Can blogs really that powerful? Even blogs about distilleries?”
Yes – a thousand times yes. But why? Just what was Bruichladdich doing right? And what is it exactly that so many distilleries are neglecting to take advantage of?
To be fully transparent – this blog is the final blog assignment in a social media class – that says:
“provide insight and recommendations on how companies within your blog’s industry can leverage blogging.”
And while I could lecture on the hard line technical advantages and smart bottom line reasons for distilleries to blog – such as it’s great for Search Engine Optimization and inbound link strategies – I thought since I already had my heart on my sleeve – I’d leave it out there and write about some of the less technical ways that whisky brands can leverage blogging for their own advantages.
Well for one – whisky is all about stories. I sell whisk(e)y for a living and when people want to know about a distillery, it’s a 50/50 shot that they’ll say, “C’mon. Tell me a story about the distillery! What’s the best story you’ve heard about this whisky?”
People love to wash down their whisky with a good story. Why? Likely to impress the person beside them with a butchered and drunken version of the same story, but the point being – so they can share the story every time they have the whisky. And they want to know interesting tidbits about their whisky – so if these interesting tidbits were posted up on a blog on a regular basis – people would keep coming back to check out the blog – and sharing what they ‘discovered’ about it.
And that leads me right into the next leverage point.
Sharing and Brand Loyalty
The same goes for digital versions of these stories. People love sharing whisky stories. Online media makes it ever so simple to spread your favourite distillery stories – and learn even more of them so every time you enjoy the whisky – and think about the stories – the experience becomes a richer one every time. And your loyalty to that distillery makes a giant boost every time you talk about it.
Centralize the Discussion
Give your fans a place to voice their opinions about what’s going on with the distillery in regards to new products and the direction of the product. It sure beats having them hear about it somewhere else – and having them comment in one place allows you to see how they react to your recent announcements – and to gage how they really feel about things. This would have really been a good help to Maker’s Mark for instance when they proposed to change the proof of their whisky earlier this year. They could have put it to people in their blog -without the resulting firestorm.
Create Your Own Message
Also, whisk(e)y culture has a strong online community. Very strong. Why? In order to stay in the know about the industry and the products – whisk(e)y nerds such as myself need to be searching in Google, following trends, following distilleries, subscribing to newsletters and email lists – and posting theories and thoughts on message boards and questions on forums.
Because distillery information ain’t perfect, and we rarely get the answers we’re looking for. So we have to dig, and scratch at the web to get what we can – and what we find can often get shared over and over and over – even if it’s not quite right.
By having a blog – you can put out the details, (as many as you want people to know) and become the source for the information – and by adding in sharing buttons to Twitter, Facebook,
Give Your Whisk(e)y Some Personality Dammit!
Lastly – I promise I’ll stop soon – but personality, and in many cases the lack of it. It’s what strarted me ranting on in the first place. For so many people, whisk(e)y is perceived to be such a exclusionary snooty affair – reserved for the upper crust with money to burn. And that’s really not the case.
Whisk(e)y is exciting stuff, full of fireworks and fun – but the snotty air around whisk(e)y is a big turn off for many potential fanatics. There’s a whole market of potential whisky fans out there just dying to be introduced to your distillery. But nobody is talking to them.
A blog gives you a great opportunity to say what you want to say – exactly how you want to say it – with more than 140 characters! And pictures and videos to boot.
Speaking of over 140 characters – this has gone on enough. But what I’m getting at here is that the Bruichladdich blog was just so effective at being the voice and the personality of the distillery – and it took the blog being taken away for me to realize how effective it was in terms of keeping me tied to their distillery.
So this is just a service message to the distilleries out there without a blog. There’s some great advantages in having a blog to speak to your audience. Are you missing out?
And please – if you know of some great distillery blogs – please comment and post links to them here – so I can get my fix.