Swirls: An appeal for some restraint and self-editing in wine social media

It is a fact of life in the online wine world: just about everyone who makes or markets or writes about wine these days promotes their efforts via social media, especially Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. I use all three at times to make readers aware of stories on this website, especially Twitter, whose robust wine community I enjoy being part of, at least for the most part.

I qualify my enthusiasm because the so-called Twitterverse is also a repository for over-the-top self-promotion that is repetitious, annoying and downright boring. I am hardly the firsttwitter_t_logo  to suggest that one should strive for an approach that balances self-promotion and the sharing of wine information and observations (as well as non-wine musings) that both wine followers and a broader audience might find interesting and useful. I readily admit that I am still looking for the right balance in my own Tweeting, although I think I’m moving toward it.

Some examples of balance: while Howard G. Goldberg (@howardggoldberg) flags us on his Sunday wine pieces in The New York Times, he also wonders, as he did on Twitter yesterday, “how many man-in-the-street consumers, finding ‘tightly wound’ in a wine review in a newspaper, understand what it means.” It’s an interesting point that invites discussion and self-reflection. Likewise, Tom Wark (@tomcwark), author of the widely read Fermentation wine blog, balances plugs for his own posts with simple questions, without links, such as: “Are any of the Republican candidates for President better for the wine industry?” or “If all wines tasted exactly as they do now—but contained no alcohol—would you drink as much as you do?”

By contrast, for another writer I follow on Twitter, hardly a day goes by when there isn’t another Tweet with another link about another review of this writer’s latest book. How many times must followers be subjected to this? Twenty, 50, 100? We get the point. Not to mention link after link to the writer’s articles and radio appearances and speaking engagements. Isn’t there  anything worth saying that’s not about this writer’s clearly booming business? (In case you’re wondering, I’m not going to mention this person by name because snarkiness is something else for which I have low tolerance.)

Beyond out-of-control self-promotion, there is the wide and largely useless practice of thanking one’s followers for following them or for re-tweeting their tweets. While this may make those being thanked feel good, think of the hundreds, or thousands or tens of thousands of followers for whom these Tweets have absolutely no relevance. I feel a little like the late Any Rooney in saying all this, but does anyone really disagree?

Back when newspapers, magazines and TV and radio broadcasts were the only media for news and information, there was something known as “limited space.” Reporters and  writers, as I learned, had to decide how to fit what they needed to say into the space or time allotted. Cyberspace has changed all that.

Another saying among journalists is that everyone needs an editor. In this era of unlimited digital space and endless self-promotion, a little self-editing is really what’s in order.


  1. Any chance you'll name the self promoter?

  2. While I totally agree with you, I do have to say that Twitter is really difficult to figure out for some people (I'll admit that I'm pretty tech savvy/into social media/a Gen X'er and I still haven't figured it all out).

    Maybe it's my liberal arts education or just my inability to fit good, full ideas into 140 characters, but I get so frustrated with Twitter sometimes that I just use it sparingly. I use Facebook for meaningful conversation with my readers/listeners because there's more "room" to talk and engage. On either, if I have nothing to say that day, I don't write anything...although I know Social Media experts say that's taboo.

    I have no doubt that the self-promoter you reference is probably using Twitter excessively, but in his or her defense, maybe s/he can't figure out what to do or how to engage there so that's the best s/he can do. Or s/he could just be a douchebag.

    Just thought I'd add another perspective. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    Elizabeth Schneider (Wine for Normal People Blog & Podcast)

  3. I agree that endless self-promotion is a huge turnoff and exactly the opposite of what Twitter and other SM channels were built for. However, I disagree that we shouldn't "thank" your followers for doing things like following, retweeting, otherwise sharing your thoughts/information. It's common courtesy.

    Though I think I know where you were headed in this post, I make an observation that you are comparing these channels with that of other media and that we should behave as "journalists" would. Unfortunately, we are all not journalists and Twitter is not about journalism... it's about real people talking/sharing with other people... so, again, while still very much against blatant self-promotion, I otherwise don't think you can expect the same level of etiquette or editing that a journalist would have. It's like a real conversation... if you come across someone at a party who is doing nothing but talking about themselves, you'd probably excuse yourself from that conversation and move on... I'd do the same here.

  4. Ed .. Thanks for your thoughtful response. I understand and appreciate the idea of conversation in SM. And while I really enjoy talking/sharing with other people, I'm also mindful that my followers -- all of them -- have little choice but to read what I have to say. For that reason, I strive to make my Tweets relevant to as many of them as possible, which was the point of my post and which is not always the case when one scrolls through Twitter. Cheers.

  5. Hi Ed,

    I agree with you on finding the right balance when it comes to self-promotion. I think the 80/20 rule (or 90/10 or 70/30, depending on who you talk to) is generally accepted these days. I use twitter for my job but I balance it out by sharing external content that I find interesting, useful, or entertaining, or content that reflects my personal interests. I do tweet thank yous to people who share my tweets. Because it will only show up in the timeline of people who are following both of us, I don't worry so much about the clutter. But it is a personal preference for everyone. Also, one thing I look at before I follow someone is how many @ replies they have in their timeline. The more @ replies, the more engaged they are and the more likely I am to follow them.

    Thanks for the post!

    Zoe Geddes-Soltess
    Community Engagement, Radian6