February 8, 2012

How We Use VinTank – Drinking Our Own Kool-Aid

A constant question we get at VinTank is, “how would you best use your software, how often, and what do you do with it?”

The answer is incredibly simple, we do use our software every day.  The best way to look at VinTank is we are the answering machine for all conversations about or to you and your brand.  At the very minimum you should listen to the messages.  How you respond is your choice.

Every morning you get our daily email (soon to change to be much more useful for you) encouraging you to sign-in to view the new conversations and new customers discovered that are talking about your brand or campaign. Signing in from the email brings you to your dashboard with some high level statistics as well as some key numbers in orange buttons. The numbers in the orange buttons represent the new mentions or customers for your brand since the last time your marked them as viewed.

Clicking on an orange stat button from the dashboard takes you directly to the new conversations or customers the system has discovered since the last time you marked them as viewed. Conversations and customers are considered NEW if it is the first time you’ve seen them. Once you’ve reviewed all new conversations and new customers, click the “Mark All Viewed” link to reset the “new” counter.

When viewing mentions I go through and a) choose to answer, b) make notes or tags about the conversations for either reporting or follow-up, or c) both.

In more detail let’s explore those three key functions:

Answer –

When answering conversations I first look into the customer to better understand them by (if possible) reading their profile, looking at their follower/following ratio, how many wine conversations we’ve recorded about them, how much have they talked about my brand, and in some cases, their Klout.com score.  This gives me better context about who I am talking to before jumping into the conversations.  In our new version you’ll be able to make notes about the customers and report on them.

Then answering is as easy as just a click of a button for Twitter (and Facebook that should be releasing today or tomorrow).

You can also see that Evan left me a note on how he worked with the customer and this conversation was tagged as "inquiry".

Making Notes or Tags –

These two functions are a key layer superimposed on top of all conversations in the software (they are also superimposed over all customer information in the tool as well but more on that in my next post about Social Customer Relationship Management).  Here are some great use cases for using tags or notes that we use at VinTank.  Remember you can create multiple tags per conversation but make sure you use the same tags consistently if you are planning on reporting on them.


  • Marking a conversation as an “accolade” or “review” for future use on your site or for sell sheets.
  • Marking conversations about topics or campaigns that are key.  For example when we get a great press review, we tag those conversations to the source of the conversation.  e.g. Vinography, Palatepress.  Or if there are internal blogs that created buzz like Shark (for the Heimoff article).
  • Marking conversations by the actual wine for reporting to see the sentiment of wines over a period of time.  Eventually we will have the ability for you to just select from the wines you have put in the Winery section to attach to the conversations but currently this is a manual process.
  • Appending NOTES to conversations for indicated future interactions such as “Evan, please follow-up, Use for press releases, Follow-up with this customer in 30 days, Customer service issue resolved” and so on.

Our philosophy is to respond to all customers in a timely and appropriate manner, just like over traditional communication channels, and we attempt to respond to all pertinent customer conversations at or about us. Sometimes we don’t get to all of them, most often we succeed.

Managing Sentiment –

Although the system will automatically indicate sentiment in some cases, you have the ability to override or set the sentiment for each conversation yourself. In our account we try to set the sentiment for all conversations, where relevant, so we can use this information for monthly internal reviews of our online reputation.

When I mark the conversation as strongly positive an icon appears in the upper right hand corner after I save. You can see I have also tagged this press and left a note for the team.

More advanced use cases:

We also create additional social campaigns to monitor other conversations about topics that are relevant to our business such as Social Customer Relationship Management, #SCRM, wine e-commerce, etc.  If we have additional time we go through those conversations and mark them as well.  In the case of a winery, you might monitor conversations about vineyards you own or source fruit from, your winemaker, or marketing campaigns you are executing (e.g. Build a Better Burger from Sutter Home).  Marketing initiatives should have their own campaigns so you can measure how much the campaign contributes to the conversations about the brand and other benchmarking efforts.

Weekly I generate reports on all conversations that have notes and send them to the team so we can deal with the ones that need follow-up.

Monthly I create multiple reports (it takes me about 30 minutes):
1.     A recap of our social activity and footprint for the team.
2.     A report on our social reputation.
3.     A report on key blogs that mentioned our brand to ensure we have added them to our press section and added the blogger to our PR contact list.
4.     A report on all customer accolades, issues, and discuss how they were resolved or how we can do better as a team handling issues.
5.     A report on how our blogs performed for the month.

So in the end our steps are actually very simple and take the first 30 minutes of everyday as part of our morning routine like answering phone messages or email.

1.     Answer all relevant customer conversations.
2.     Annotate conversations according to your internal procedures (tags and notes).
3.     Run reports weekly or monthly for items that need followup.
4.     Run monthly reports on how well you are performing in social media, social customer service, and online reputation.

Any questions?  Need more suggestions?  Please leave them in the comments below.

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