March 20th, 2018 | People
So what exactly is a wine ‘influencer’ – who are they, what do they do, and where do they come from? Perhaps, before the internet, this was a simple question to answer. ‘Opinion makers’ were respected journalists (from newspapers or wine magazines) or perhaps very highly regarded authors. These days however, the picture has changed quite a lot, and the definition is no longer quite so clear.
Nowadays, by using social media, almost anyone with a little wine knowledge (sometimes little more than the average man in the street), can become an ‘authority’ on wine. With a plentiful number of web contacts these contributors can quickly build a following, eventually to the point where they can influence wine trends and buying habits.
There is a saying I believe, that too little knowledge can be a dangerous thing (in the hands of the wrong people), and that’s what worries me a bit. Whilst I do applaud many of the latest generation of bloggers and wine ‘influencers’, it’s just that sometimes when reading their posts I will come across wine ‘facts’ that are either misleading or just plain wrong. The problem is that in trying to over-simplify the subject, they are sometimes just publishing ‘fake wine news’ (or should I say fake wine facts). Simplifying the mystery of wine is of course really, really useful, and a great way to learn, but along with this goes a responsibility for making sound, accurate research and ensuring that what is being published to the world as facts, are indeed factual.
An award-winning and well-respected wine writer once told me: “Influencers is a term for those who have more readers than facts, more opinions than experience, and an audience not bright enough to know the difference”. This view might appear to be quite harsh, but I believe that the underlying message is quite simple – get your facts straight before you publish them otherwise your post might only serve to confuse your readers.