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 first 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.