Monday, December 13, 2010

We Have a Winner

Cathy VanOrder of New York won the early bird draw for a $200 gift certificate at her favorite wine store. She has now collected it and both she and the wine store owner are happy. We have instituted another early bird draw with a $100 prize and a deadline of December 15. Everyone who completes the survey still goes into the final draw for the $500 prize.

We keep sending out requests for participation in our study and the responses come in slowly but surely. We have now heard from 93 blog creators and 53 readers, but are still stuck with the same 15 contributors. Several blog owners who have either posted our message on their sites or conveyed it to their readers through other social media have helped our efforts.

As part of this project I have looked at hundreds of blogs that have or at least claim to have something to do with wine. There are two really striking aspects that emerge from those that I have examined. First, there is amazing diversity. From pompous to irreverent, from strictly amateur to extremely professional, from beautifully illustrated to vanilla plain, from highly specialized to all over the map there is certainly a wine blog or more likely a dozen for any taste. The second feature I noticed was the amount of effort that people put into their blogs. Some of the amateur blogs obviously take a great deal of time and effort not just in the writing and presentation, but also in acquiring the expertise they demonstrate. Some of these people are connected with the wine industry, but others come from quite different professional backgrounds. Although we began this project with some basic academic questions about blogs, we have all learned much more than we anticipated through our research.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Launching the Survey

When we first began this project we expected to be collecting data within a few months. We got diverted by another study looking at how those in different countries view blogs, but now we are busy chasing down people to fill in our wine blog survey. We have mainly contacted those with wine blogs through email and the response has been quite gratifying. In our message to those with their own blogs we asked them to post our message on their sites and at least three of them have done so. Our message has also been picked up on Twitter a few times. The result is that so far we have 143 complete responses. The study is designed to collect information about people with three different levels of engagement: those who have their own blogs (we call them blog creators), those who read and contribute to others’ blogs and those who only read blogs. So far the break down is 76 blog creators, 52 blog readers and only 15 blog contributors. Obviously we are getting more responses from the blog creators because we address them directly and it appears that a high percentage of them are happy to oblige. The very low number of responses from contributors is a bit puzzling unless most of the contributors also have their own blogs which seems unlikely. In any case we will keep plugging away. Our goal is to have 300 respondents in each category so we have some work to do.

Part of our intention is starting this blog was to engage those who are interested in the effect of social media on the wine industry. From our interaction with bloggers at wine bloggers conferences and the responses to our emails, it is clear that there is a considerable amount of interest in how blogs operate and what makes them attractive. We will try to post an update every week or so to let you know how the study is progressing.

If you haven’t yet completed our survey (there is a $500 draw for those that do) you can access it at

Louise, David & Alex