Where to Host Virtual Wine Tastings: Facebook Live, Instagram, or Zoom?

Many wineries are offering virtual wine tastings for the first time while they’re closed due to Coronavirus restrictions. For wineries diving into this kind of internet-based experience, perhaps after not previously having the time create a strong digital presence, it can be daunting deciding how to go about offering such a tasting.

This is new to me, too. I manage marketing and social media strategy for two urban wineries owned by First Batch Hospitality, and like many employees of wineries, until now, my job description did not include live streaming.

We’re all learning as we go during this pandemic. Over at Brooklyn Winery and District Winery, we’ve done a lot of research to figure out what virtual tastings feel like on different platforms, what format provides the best guest experience, and what will look most professional, given that we’re encouraging our customers to purchase wine in advance. Taking time to gather best practices has paid off for us since we launched our tastings, with growing average views each week and retention rates that show we’re keeping our followers’ attention.

We know what strategy is working for us, but what format will work best for your winery, given your specific audience type? From interactive Zoom calls, to Facebook Live streams, to Youtube videos, to Instagram Live videos, there are numerous digital places to host virtual wine tastings. Read my comparison of the most popular options below based on tastings I’ve watched and the research we conducted:

Instagram Live

  • Generally creates a more one-sided feel between host winery and viewers
  • Your followers are notified when you go live, so you may gain viewers spontaneously who didn’t previously plan to watch
  • Very easy to go live on short notice
  • Screen is oriented vertically
  • Ability to add a guest to your screen (though only one can join you at a time)
  • Live chat on bottom of screen allows viewers to ask questions
  • No face to face time between viewers and hosts (unless a viewer is added to the screen by the host)
  • Instagram does not automatically save videos to your profile
  • Sometimes Instagram does not give the option to download videos after going live
  • Generally can only be recorded from a phone
  • No ability to screen share
  • Comments in the chat are not clickable, so you can’t share external links like to encourage viewers to learn more about you during the stream
  • You can’t add a title to your live stream, though you can comment in the chat with a title and pin your comment to the bottom of the chat

Zoom

  • Since a link invitation is required to view a “meeting,” virtual tastings on Zoom by nature can’t really be spontaneous or gain new viewers throughout the tasting like on a social media platform
  • Creates a more intimate, interactive environment for tasting
  • Viewers need a link and sometimes a password in order to join the “meeting,” so it’s harder to go live spontaneously
  • Host can chat with numerous other people on screen at a time, including viewers
  • There is a chat function for viewers to ask questions, but if cameras are enabled, viewers can also participate in the conversation directly
  • Entire video meetings can be saved for you as the host to view later (though they are not automatically saved in a public place for future customer viewing, unless you upload the videos somewhere, like Youtube)
  • Hosts and viewers can join from numerous device types, from laptops, to phones, to iPads
  • Screen sharing options are available for hosts and viewers
  • You can share links in the chat for viewers to learn more about your winery, but Zoom doesn’t make links clickable, so people will need to copy and paste (not very user friendly for driving web traffic for future wine sales, etc)

Facebook Live

  • Chatting with viewers who leave comments while you stream creates a conversation, but it’s not the same as being able to see each other like on a Zoom call
  • Your followers are notified when you go live, so you may gain viewers spontaneously who didn’t previously plan to watch
  • Easy to go live on short notice, but you can also schedule and promote your streams ahead of time
  • Screen is typically oriented horizontally, like a TV screen
  • Within the native Facebook platform, you cannot currently add a second or third host to your stream like you can on Instagram Live (this feature used to be available on Facebook, and there are rumors it will be brought back to facilitate easier live streams due to Coronavirus)
  • Live commenting allows viewers to ask questions during your tasting
  • No face to face time between viewers and hosts
  • Facebook automatically saves your live streams as videos on your Page after you finish streaming, so they can be watched later (you can then add a title and description to your stream)
  • Can be recorded from different devices, like your laptop, iPad, or phone
  • Facebook itself does not give hosts the ability to share their screen while live streaming
  • You can share clickable links in the comments for viewers to learn more about your winery
  • In order to add multiple guests to your screen, or share your screen while streaming, you will need to use a third party app that can stream to Facebook for you with more features like these. Belive.tv is what I’m using for the wineries I work for and it creates a really professional look for our tastings

Wondering which format we chose for virtual tastings at our urban wineries?

We decided to go with Facebook Live – for the ability to save videos on our page for viewing later, encourage spontaneous viewership while also promoting tastings ahead of time, and the ability to engage in conversation with our viewers taking questions from the chat. Additionally, we found Belive.tv to be a great option for adding graphics and additional hosts to the screen while we’re streaming. Check out examples of our recent tastings on the Facebook pages for Brooklyn Winery and District Winery.


Meaghan Webster is currently Marketing Manager at First Batch Hospitality, the group behind urban winemaking and events at Brooklyn Winery in NY, District Winery in DC, and the soon-to-open RiNo Point Winery in Denver. The advice shared here is solely Meaghan’s opinion based on her own expertise, and does not reflect the opinion(s) of her employer.

An experienced wine and food photographer, social media manager, and designer, Meaghan formerly worked as a marketing consultant for wineries and restaurants in DC, Virginia, Napa and NY. Learn more about her work at meaghanwebster.com or see her latest work and tips at instagram.com/meaghanwmarketing.

 

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