Successful social media marketing sometimes means loosening up with new ideas for your brand

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Digital Marketing

Shana Bull is a Santa Rosa-based marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at, @sharayray on Instagram or at

Read past columns at

Let’s be honest — the year is over halfway done, and hospitality marketers in the wine industry are starting to think about harvest.

Tourism peaks in early fall weekends, and many marketers are even thinking ahead to holiday promotions. Saying that we are busy is definitely an understatement.

Before holiday promotions really start rolling, now is the time to get yourself out of your cubicle and get inspired from unique digital marketing campaigns. Sometimes we’re so focused on our goals and day-to-day social media marketing that we forget something: social media should be about connections and having fun with your brand.

The best marketing happens when we forget we’re marketers.Ann Handley, digital marketing pioneer and writer

This is what sells your product or service to your online communities — not constantly hitting them over the head with online ads.

“The best marketing happens when we forget we’re marketers,” said Ann Handley, digital marketing pioneer, writer and speaker at a past PMG-North Bay conference ( in Rohnert Park.

With this quote in mind, I talked to a few Wine Country marketers about some of the fun campaigns they’ve been featuring in the digital marketing space. Their ideas inspired me, and will hopefully do the same for you:

‘Where is the #WhiteWineEmoji?’: Kendall-Jackson

Last year, Kendall-Jackson Winery, along with a few other wineries, created a campaign to get support for the addition of an official white wine emoji. (As of now, we only can send texts with a red wine or champagne emoji.) In addition to being a clever publicity stunt, with help from Santa Rosa-based creative agency, The Engine is Red, the marketing team at Kendall-Jackson is actually taking their plea to the Unicode Consortium.

Yup, apparently there is an organization that “controls” emojis. They built a microsite (, created social media content, as well as worked with Instagram influencers, wine writers, and a PR team to spread the love for the #whitewineemoji far and wide. Only time will tell if Chardonnay drinkers will be able to express their love for white wines through emoji speak soon.

How Bay Area marketers can use this idea: Hashtag campaigns work best when a brand utilizes influencer marketing to help spread the hashtag. Any hospitality marketer can create their own hashtag for their brand, and then work with a PR/social media agency (or do it in-house) to connect with like-minded influencers who will share the campaign and keep it going.

Remember that the hashtag #OptOutside started as a PR campaign for REI to talk about not opening on Black Friday? That hashtag lives on years later, both within their own social media content, the website and plastered on the windows of their retail locations.

The Bell resort and hotel: Taco Bell

Within minutes of being able to book a suite at the five-day pop-up hotel called “The Bell,” all of the rooms had already sold out. In this era of Instagram opportunity, it makes sense for the fast food giant to want to capitalize on the pool floaties, hot sauce rooms, Taco Bell-themed hairstyles in the salon, and the ultra photogenic, bright colors of the V Palm Springs.

The pop-up served only upscale Taco Bell fare, with a build-your-own breakfast taco spread in the morning, late night tacos, and summer cocktails and received a millions of impressions from journalists and influencers talking about the off the wall idea.

Digital Marketing

Shana Bull is a Santa Rosa-based marketing educator and digital storyteller, working with wine, food, hospitality businesses, teaching classes on marketing, and freelance writing. Reach her with your questions about digital marketing at, @sharayray on Instagram or at

Read past columns at

How Bay Area marketers can use this idea: North Bay hotels, wineries, and food producers could all partner together for a pop-up of this caliber, but that would likely be a larger idea for next summer.

Thinking about everyday, small marketing opportunities: Brick and mortar wineries, hotels and restaurants can take a look at which area of their business is being shared on Instagram the most. Then, capitalize on that by adding a sign asking people to tag your brand on Instagram/Facebook. Or, if you prefer, you can create your own “Instagramable” opportunity, like Jean Charles Boisset has at several of his wineries with the wall of frames at Deloach Vineyards in Russian River Valley, Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma, and Raymond Cellars in St. Helena.

Clo the Cow’s 50th birthday museum exhibit: Clover Sonoma

Clo the Cow has been a staple of the Petaluma creamery since 1969. In addition to a coffee table book featuring the 100s of ads from their billboards (a few can be found in Petaluma, Vallejo, and Rohnert Park), all with some very mOOOving cow puns, Clover Sonoma curated a 2-month-long exhibition at the Petaluma Historical Library and Museum. Like any good art exhibit, they celebrated with an opening night party, complete with chocolate milk and all of your favorite cheesy appetizers. Expect more birthday celebrations for Clover throughout the rest of 2019. This past summer they also held a contest to get customers to come up with their own milk puns.

How Bay Area marketers can use this idea: Not every brand can have ads that people rip out of print magazines and post on their walls like the 90s “Got Milk” campaign or the Clover Sonoma cheese puns, but that doesn’t mean that brands can’t have fun with their marketing efforts. Using content like memes or food/wine puns sporadically in your social media marketing makes people want to share your posts, and therefore your brand.

Iron Horse Vineyards has taken wine quotes and created their own images, which have been shared thousands of times across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. In fact, one image that says “Keep Your Friends Close, and Your Sparkling Wine Closer” gets shared every few weeks by fans.

North Bay brands have a multitude of creative marketing opportunities that can grab people’s attention, and get people talking. Remember you can test out different campaigns on Instagram stories for a quick turn around to see what works with your customers. And then create larger campaigns to tell your brand story, and have some fun with your marketing.

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