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Digital Wine Communications Conference 2015: 2 days of panels and masterclasses in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Some new ideas, some old words. Some new wines, some old world. After an accurate cherry-picking, here is my juice, hand-extracted for your bliss: 4 issues, no bullshit, no propaganda.

1. Relevance

Probably an abused word these days, you may well think. Bottom line, as Cathy Huyghe put it. Before creating a new piece of content, always ask yourself a simple question: why should my audience invest time in reading my content? The most relevant content for your audience is what your audience not only enjoy, but also endorse. And that is converted in the actions of commenting, mentioning and…sharing.

While you can buy followers for 5 bucks, as Judith Lewis mentioned in its enlightening panel on SEO, to build reputation and thought leadership you need to be consistently relevant. And this in turn will convert to better page rank, both directly through what I call the ‘spider endorsement effect’ (i.e. Google recognizes you as credible and effective in answering the need of the searching agent for specific keywords) and indirectly through mentions and back links. Only at that point you could also possibly think about backing your efforts with some SEM.

2. Focus

First of all, all the content you create should be relevant for yourself, consistent with your identity, your values, your uniqueness. That means also that before building a landing page or starting a blog, you should ask yourself: What is my specific goal? Which audience am I writing for? Can I create unique content on a regular basis? If you don’have all these answers, it’s probably better to wait for a clearer sky…

Focus means also not blending in, as Simon Woolf put it. Refusing to give up to your uniqueness (once you found it and learnt to value it as the only non-transferable asset you have) in order to be accepted by a wider community. This has a strong meaning also on the product side (how many winemakers derailed in order to produce something that the market in that moment wanted?

3. Context

Quoting Felicity Carter, the word ‘wine’ doesn’t exist outside the wine media world.

This is a bad news, because living inside a fortress we are losing opportunities to expand the market beyond the usual niche. Ryan Opaz, founder of Catavino, reported that he started writing wine reviews. After a while, he realized that adding food and travel in the content recipe, the number of unique visitors to his website almost trebled in less than six months. Empirical evidence confirmed by Cathy, that applied the magic formula also in her latest book, Hungry for wine, seeing wine through the lenses of business and politics (given her background at Forbes, that makes a lot of sense). Her experiment demonstrates that context can be interpreted in very broad terms, well beyond the usual pairings with food and travel.

But in some way it is also a good news. That means that the potential of the wine content arena is still largely untapped. You have good content ideas and unusual pairings? We could be interested! *

The ability to put wine into a context is what makes the distinction drawn by Felicity between a wine expert and a wine storyteller. The former is an insider, the latter an outsider. And we need real outsiders.

*Want a tip to get started? Have a look at the correlations in Google searches between ‘wine’ and other keywords…

4. Humor

The ultimate keyword. So underestimated in wine content. Just a caveat: humor does not signify sloppiness and inaccuracy, nor simply polemic and sarcasm. Humor is a sense of lightness pervading your page, it basically means not taking yourself too seriously.

Richard Hemming explored this idea in a concise and memorable speech during the Disrupt Wine Talks. At the end of the day, we are not called to solve any major political or social crisis, nor are we helping prevent a new humanitarian emergence. We are simply writing about wine, a wonderful produce, probably the most complex and fascinating output Mother Earth gives us. We could simply enjoy its awesomeness, without snobby attitudes, and not taking anything for granted.

Humor goes hand in hand with humility and empathy. In particular with newbies…