Welcome to my first interview on The Whisky Gospel!
If you follow my blog, you probably know how much I love the online whisky community. It’s a great source of support for my kind-of-weird hobby and information on whiskies. The community is often called #whiskyfabric and the truth is that without them and the other persons sharing this same passion with me on the internet and the social networks, I wouldn’t be able to maintain the freshness and the enthusiasm of my hobby and be here on this blog.
But it’s not only amateurs and geeks/fanatics/enthusiasts that exists online – most of the distilleries and the independent bottlers have online presence interacting with their fans, customers and the whisky community. We tend to contact them asking questions, participating in their competitions, requesting information (and samples 😉 ) and we’re happy when they interact with us.
I was very curious to see how is life from the other side – who are they, what’s their perspective on social networks marketing and online community interactions. So curiosity killed the cat and it pushed me to open this new section on the blog – interviews, while starting a series of interviews with the people behind the distilleries and independent bottlers online presence. I hope you will enjoy it!
And now, a round of applause for Jennifer Nicol of Tomain distillery, my first Interviewee.
Hi Jennifer, Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am the marketing manager for Tomatin Distillery, living in Inverness. I like whisky, wine, most foods and I am quite crafty. I am dabbling in amateur theatre this year.
What is your exact position in the distillery? Could you tell us a little about your journey in the whisky industry?
Marketing manager. I joined just over 2 years ago as a ‘whisky newbie’ having never worked in the industry before. My previous experience includes hotel and telecoms marketing (I graduated in 2007).
How much of your day to day activity is dedicated to social media?
Very little, around 5%. This is due to effective time management with social media, I used to spend a lot longer when I was first learning!
How do you see and define the audience on the different social media networks? From your point of view, are there any differences between Facebook, Twitter and other sites?
Definitely different audiences. Twitter is more professional, whereas when people are on Facebook it tends to be during their leisure time. This affects what you post, where, and when.
What are your goals when engaging the audience via social networks? How do you measure success?
Ultimate goal is to be able to communicate with as many of our end customers as possible. Success is measured by level of the account’s following and also by the engagement levels of each individual post (likes, shares, comments, RTs, etc.)
How often do you checks social networks notifications (mentions, Direct messages, FB tags)? every day? once a day? twice a day? whenever the phone beep/vibrate?
I have all our accounts on my phone so whenever I get notifications (regardless of office hours) I check them. Obviously there are times when I may not see them for an hour or two but generally speaking I reply or interact immediately, which goes down well with our fans. People are surprised I reply out of hours, but I believe it is important to be ‘available’ and I generally enjoy the conversations so it’s hardly hard work!
Can you point out any other distillery/group that works well in social networks? What are they doing right?
Arran – they run lots of competitions which keeps engagement high.
Bruichladdich – they post lots of interesting and relevant content.
How can distilleries distinguish their activity and brand on the net? Are there any other areas, besides Social Networks, in which you can promote your brand?
They need to ensure the brand voice is heard; impersonal corporate content doesn’t work, people want to know the people behind the brand. Being creative with social media helps distinguish. And be available – social media is not 9am-5pm.
Are images as effective as text in social networks? Or maybe even more effective?
Definitely most effective, you get higher engagement when you post a photo. Text-only posts on Facebook are disastrous. Not so much on Twitter but photos always get the most favourites!
What was your highlight moment with your Social networks work? Which parts of it do you enjoy, personally?
The Cu Bocan brand launch, it exceeded my expectations! It was an innovative use of social media to launch a new brand – and very low cost with high exposure. And we did it all internally, no brand agencies involved here!
I enjoy hearing feedback from customers and seeing how far around the world our brand is spreading.
What were the weirdest and funniest (separately!) interactions/contacts you ever got through social network?
I can’t really think of weird or funny – we did get tweeted by Stephen Fry and Karen Gillan (Dr Who).
Do you remember your first whisky dram? What was it? Did you like it right away?
Yes, way way back a cask strength sample from a Speyside distillery (I don’t remember which one) which I liked. However everything else I tried after used to give me goose bumps! I persevered and when I started at Tomatin I really developed my taste for it, Tomatin is very easy to drink!
What’s your current favorite whisky? Where do you like to have it?
Tomatin Legacy, at home with my other half!
Do you have any ceremonies or quirks related to drinking whisky?
No, but at my wedding ceremony one of the symbolic gestures will be drinking from the Quaich (Tomatin, of course!)
Do you prefer drinking alone or with others?
With others, I rarely drink alone.
Do you limit your drinking? If so, in what way?
Yes, I think it is important to drink less but better, also too much drink is not good for the waistline!
Do you get to drink on the job? Do you HAVE to drink on the job? 🙂
Not really as I have to drive back to Inverness. If we are doing tasting notes we do it first thing and use a spittoon. We HAVE to drink when entertaining clients and attending industry dinners, and we are not allowed to drive to work the next morning until our breathaliser says so.
Do you have a professional dream?
To bring Tomatin further into the fore in the single malt market and have it as a household name – we’re getting there!
Well done! you have a sensitivity about you that allows you to listen to the stories behind the stories.
Great idea! Very interesting perspective.
Interesting choice, too, starting with Tomatin.
Thanks. Another one in the series on next Monday.
I enjoyed reading this—thank you! Looking forward to the rest of the series.