On #YouCanSipWithUs, and Going Viral
To be honest, it started with two simple words: ‘the algorithm’.
If you’re unfamiliar with the inner workings of Instagram: the algorithm is what decides whose content will be served to you, according to what it predicts you will like. And for me, the algorithm had been royally sucking for months. I felt like I wasn’t being served any fresh or interesting content from other creators, and that my own posts were totally isolated and screaming into an echo chamber. It made me dread going on Instagram when it used to be the favorite part of my day. Now it just felt like a chore, something I ‘had to’ do. What had happened???
Oh yeah… ‘social media’ is supposed to be social.
Inspiration, creativity, connection, conversation, and the word that Zuckerberg and Co. have made a central part of our vocabulary… ‘sharing’. Without those things, any social media platform is like a car slowly running out of gas. And on Instagram, it felt like the fun had vanished overnight. Lively conversations around wine didn’t seem to be happening on that platform anymore. Was it possible to try & jumpstart that energy again, or had Instagram jumped the shark?
A Reflection of a Bigger Issue...
Outside of my own Instagram feed, a larger and related issue kept popping up at my wine industry events and panel discussions; and in online forums and wine biz Facebook groups: where is everybody?
Wine is on the decline. It’s losing its market share to craft beer, marijuana, cocktail bars, wellness trends, you name it. Wine has been a cultural force pre-dating the Roman Empire. Why is everybody moving away from it now?
The answer is simple: they’re not feeling welcome. And that is because we as a wine industry have done very little to reach out to diverse demographics and include them.
Hocking ‘rosé all day’ to millennial women, or industrially produced moscato to the black community, or cheap pinot grigio to young moms and calling it ‘Mommy’s time out’, or bourbon-barrel aged reds to young guys with hyper-masculine ‘cowboy-style’ branding to make them feel drinking wine is sufficiently ‘manly’-- those efforts don’t count. They are gimmicks. And people don’t want to be marketed to that way. They want to be educated, inspired, have fun, not worry they ‘don’t know enough’ to belong with the wine snobs; they want to explore and discover and enjoy— even if they’re just starting their wine journey. More traditional voices (whom I won’t name here), are attempting to shame and stifle the curiosity of those that want to learn and want to be a part of something; claiming they are trying to ‘protect the sanctity of wine’ and keep it from ‘being dragged down to your level of mediocrity’ (actual quotes).
And THAT, my friends, is why I launched #YouCanSipWithUs. An initiative to get people connecting, posting, talking about wine again. Giving them a space where they can feel like a part of a community, where they’re not too intimidated to discover and learn and share.
I had no clue if this little idea would fall flat or take off-- but it’s been growing rapidly. I had the inspiration exactly one week ago, and tapped a handful of my fellow wine blogger friends to help me promote it and get the word out.
In that 6 day timeframe, there have been almost 3,000 posts that have gone up with the tag! Multiple of that in IG Stories. People are calling it a ‘movement’, we’ve got community members in Australia, Denmark, St Emilion, Sicily, Canada, Panama, Mexico, South Africa, New Zealand, Japan. Major wine brands are noticing and have jumped in. We got our first media hit. My DMs have been overflowing with people thanking me for creating such a positive campaign. It’s been really overwhelming and completely amazing! I have discovered hundreds of awesome accounts that I’m now supporting and connecting with, and what’s even better is: I see them connecting with each other.
A Glimpse At Who We’re Resonating With
I’ve heard from a young woman who has attempted attending wine tasting events in her area and been told to her face she doesn’t belong there because she’s black, so she stopped including her own face in her wine posts. Now she’s not going to hide anymore.
I’ve heard from a guy that’s a big wine collector, but has gotten so caught up in the competition/comparison game on social media that he said he forgot why he even loved wine to begin with. He’s joining our conversation.
I’ve heard from a young woman that has been dreaming of starting an Instagram account devoted to wine, but hasn’t because she doesn’t ‘take the amazing trips, drink the exclusive wine, or know the important people that everyone in the wine industry seems to’. Now she finally has the confidence to start.
I’ve heard from a very young lady, hoping to start her WSET 1, and doesn’t have any ‘real life’ friends that understand her passion-- she was looking for a bit of inspiration and support and she feels like she’s found it now.
I’ve heard from a woman that just retired, who has a successful wine and travel blog, who was questioning whether she belonged on Instagram anymore because she’s not a millennial. She was struggling with whether she’s still relevant. She’s joined us.
And honestly, dozens more. It’s incredibly inspiring. And so, with that, on behalf of the hundreds of wine lovers that have jumped in to be part of this, I invite you to follow the hashtag and join us! Experts, beginners, sommeliers, wine marketers, brands, educators, consumers, influencers, writers, winemakers, students-- we can all be part of the same conversation, and welcome everyone else to the table.