Social Media Success for Wineries With Duncan Alney of Firebelly Marketing

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated May 13, 2024

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

Social Media Success for Wineries With Duncan Alney of Firebelly Marketing

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Troika Gellido

duncan alney firebelly
Social Media Success for Wineries With Duncan Alney of Firebelly Marketing 11

Meet Duncan Alney, the visionary Founder and CEO of Firebelly Marketing, leading the charge in social media innovation.

With a passion for problem-solving and client satisfaction, Duncan sets the vision and values for the company. He believes in the power of social media as the frontline of communication, where content, conversation, community, and commerce converge.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Learn about Firebelly Marketing and their expertise
  • Explore the evolution of social media marketing for wineries and learn practical tips on tracking and measuring ROI
  • Explore advice on KPIs and budget considerations for generating authentic, engaging content without extensive paid strategies
  • Explore the concept of “lo-fi marketing”
  • Learn why authenticity resonates with younger audiences and discover the performance metrics of highly produced versus authentic, relatable content
  • Discover the potential of user-generated content (UGC) in elevating your winery’s social presence
  • Delve into innovative strategies for wineries to drive purchase intention and enhance brand loyalty

In this episode with Duncan Alney

Join us as we traverse the world of social media marketing for wineries. In today’s episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks is joined by Duncan Alney, Founder and CEO of Firebelly Marketing. We explore Firebelly’s expertise in social media execution, particularly within the food and beverage industry. 

Discover how you can transform your winery’s online presence. From organic content creation to user-generated engagement, Duncan shares invaluable advice on maximizing ROI and navigating the complexities of social media marketing in the wine industry. Whether you’re a boutique winery or a seasoned producer, this episode uncorks the secrets to leveraging social media for success.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.

Barrels Ahead is a wine and craft marketing agency that propels organic growth by using a powerful combination of content development, Search Engine Optimization, and paid search.

At Barrels Ahead, we know that your business is unique. That’s why we work with you to create a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and makes your business stand out from your competitors.

Our team at Barrels Ahead helps you leverage your knowledge so you can enjoy the results and revenue your business deserves.

So, what are you waiting for? Unlock your results today!

To learn more, visit or email us at to schedule a strategy call.


[00:00:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Welcome to Legends Behind the Craft. Today I’ve got a very special guest on the show, my good friend, Duncan Alney. Duncan is the founder and CEO and president of one of the, actually, I’m going to go so far as to say it, the preeminent social media marketing agency for food and beverage brands that matter.

Duncan, it’s been about three years, but we talk daily. What’s going on?

[00:00:24] Duncan Alney: Drew, my man, thank you for having me on the show. I’m so excited to be here. I always enjoy talking to you and learning from you and having cocktails and wine with you because I always know that you know, what’s up. So I’m excited to be here.

[00:00:38] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I’m excited for all of our listeners to catch up. In fact, I believe you are the second person on our podcast, 186 episodes ago. Now you’re based out, you’re based out of Indiana. Tell our listeners about Firebelly and why what you say matters.

[00:00:57] Duncan Alney: Well, you threw me off at that.

[00:01:02] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Why should they listen to you?

[00:01:03] Duncan Alney: Firebelly is a social media marketing agency. It’s all we do. And as of, the last couple, three years, we have switched and micro focused into food and beverage. And so, we are definitely, I don’t know about being the preeminent, there’s some very good social media marketing agencies out there. I would say we are one of the few, the very few that is an integrated social media marketing agency.

So we do organic paid UGC influencer work and content creation. So, yeah. And I think what I’m out of say is because I’ve been around for a minute, I’ve got some sensibilities about me. I’ve seen a lot of bullshit and I can sniff it out.

And yeah, we have learned a lot from the work we’ve done with our clients. And so I think that’s, you know, I’ve grown a team and you know, I’ve been an entrepreneur and a marketeer, so I guess that’s what I bring to the table.

[00:01:54] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, no, you bring a lot to the table. And so, like, to put our two agencies in context, you’re more on the social media side, the content creation, really the where the rubber meets the road on social.

Whereas Barrels Ahead, we help promote authentic content through web development, through page search, through just general digital strategies, social media being one of them. So you’re like a, like the SEAL Team 6 expert for social media. Or more like the infantry troops.

[00:02:24] Duncan Alney: You’re the general. You know, you’re leading the, why are we doing all these war, these wars?

[00:02:32] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah.

[00:02:35] Duncan Alney: I mean, I think it’s an interesting space, right? And so being in food and beverage, you know, we work with several different beverage categories wine being one of them, you know, we’ve worked with some larger wineries and, you know, in the recent past, we’ve worked with JUSTIN and Landmark and we’ve been working for a few years now with Noble Vines, several of their brands.

So yeah, I mean, it’s a, it’s a very fun space. I don’t work on any of those, clients myself. Our team does, but I’m aware of what’s going on, and social is definitely, it’s very important.

[00:03:09] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, and over the years, it’s really evolved. So next week, I’ll actually be speaking at a conference.

This will probably be out after that, but I’m talking about lo-fi marketing and social media engagement and thought, you know, why not just start the discussion now, fine-tune the dialogue and figure out the latest going on with social, ROI specifically, like how wineries, how do, how, if you’re a winery and you’re going to put stuff out on social, of course, you can just throw a picture up here and there and track your followers track engagement.

But over the years, as social media is involved, what advice do you give to wineries for how to track the ROI and their expenditure there?

[00:03:49] Duncan Alney: I mean, ROI, of course, stands for return on investment. And so, the normal, the typical perspective on, on return on investment is, you know, financial.

Okay. I spend so much, you know, what do I get back? And somehow over the years, there are some parts of marketing, broadly speaking, that are sort of exempt, you know, they’re like the, they’re like you know, the consulate personnel in D. C. who can park anywhere without worrying about a ticket, right? It’s like somehow public relations, you know, billboards, you know, product placement.

Those are sort of like exempt to all the normal rules of marketing. It’s like, hey, you know, I invested so much. And other pieces that it’s not just the investment in terms of dollars, it should all, we should also look at the investment of like energy and time, right? But we typically don’t. But so return on investment, you know, when I think about return on investment, it’s by stage of the funnel, you know, what’s your return on investment that you spent on awareness? What’s the return on investment, you know, into engagement? What’s the return on investment into conversion and then, and sales in general, offline sales, and then how do you bring it all together? So, you know, that is also sub-category numbers, right? Like return on ad spend.

So as opposed to return on marketing investment, but I think I’ll divide it up into, you know, the first one that I think is sort of like, untouchable in terms of like, it should never be messed with is the value of credibility. How do you value being credible in a world that is, you know, nevermind millennials and Gen Zs, but you know alphas will be buying wine in a few years, right? And so it’s an increasingly younger thinking demographic. And so whether we like it or not, they’re using where, you know, you and I in our fifties are using Google as a search engine. They’re using TikTok as a search engine. Right?

So, going to Instagram or going to Facebook to gauge the personality of the brand to look at the products is something that who would have ever thought that would even be a thing in wine, right? It’s like winemakers make great wine because that’s what they want to do. They don’t really typically, you know, cave to consumer, you know, buying. They’re producing a wine and that’s what they’re going to do. So the first stage is awareness. It’s like, “Hey, how aware are you?” And if people are aware of you, are you credible, and can people resonate with never mind, never mind your values and your, you know, your integrity as a company on the things you’re doing, but can they even, can they even resonate with the content that you’re putting out directly correlating to your wine. Right?

You know, is your wine 20 or 15 or is it 75 or 110? And if so, you know, what content are you putting it putting out that matches up with that price point with the lifestyle of the people that are buying the wine, you know, so is it, you know, content about food pairings and recipes of things that go along with the wine? Or is it, you know, a contest or is it some kind of a question that gets people going, but now we’re going from awareness and reach into engagement and then engagement, you know, there’s passive engagement and there’s active engagement, you know, so passive engagement to me is clicking like. You know, although I guess passive engagement would be, you could debate whether watching a video is passive or active because you have to commit to the video, but I would say, in my mind, passive, passive engagement is clicking like, or love.

Active engagement is sharing or, you know, typing a comment or watching a video. And then when you watch the video, did you watch 30 percent or 50 percent or 80%? And if you watched 80%, you know, should you get a second video served to you and so on and so forth. And then from there, you go into kind of the underused part or the under, under the piece of social that is not as well understood, which is what’s the value of paid, you know, it’s like a lot of wine brands don’t even do paid.

And so you’re doing paid, what kind of paid are you doing? And commerce is increasingly becoming a more important part of the beverage world, not just, real world commerce, but online commerce. And so, you know, are you actually sending people to a website at the bottom of the funnel? And are you sending people, are you converting anything from it?

You know, which is, so if you look at the return on investment from the funnel, it’s like the top is, are more people learning about you? And there’s numbers that correlate to that. It’s like how many people, did impressions get served to? How many people? Did it actually reach how many people engaged with it?

How did they engage? Did they click on the website traffic or the website link on organic or on paid? Did they get to the website and did they end up buying something? And so, of course, you know, this leads to the question about attribution, right? It’s like, hey, if I tell you about a story I read in the New York Times yesterday, without telling you that it was in the New York Times, I’m still telling you the story. Right.?

But from an attribution standpoint, if I mentioned to you that I read it in the New York Times, that might make a difference to you in the same way was, you know, you can send traffic to the website and you still can’t say that the you know, platform that sent it, sent it should get all the credit for sending the traffic, right?

So, I mean, increasingly you can buy wine online depending on, depending on what state you live in. So, let’s say, you know, Duncan goes to, you know, Relax Wines and is checking, checking around, and then decides, you know, I got to go run into a meeting. So, then he leaves and while he’s in his car, he, you know, sees an ad from Relax. And he clicks it, but he doesn’t buy anything. And then he gets retargeted and then he might go read a news article about it. And then finally he’ll buy something.

And the last touch was say Twitter or X. If you’re using a very simple attribution system, you know, last touch, which is Twitter gets the credit. But the reality is it’s a six or seven different variables in there that led Duncan to actually buy, including news and including the website. So, you know, how do you, if you have multivariate attribution, which candidly, most companies don’t, aren’t that sophisticated, but if you do, then you can see the customer journey.

If you can’t see the customer journey, should you assume that that customer journey still happens? Yes, of course you should. And you should have credibility content. You should still do PR because the PR, while you can’t measure it directly, we know it’s contributing. We know if there’s a, if there’s a story in Wine Spectator, it is ultimately going to affect people’s opinion of the wine, right?

So I think that that’s the piece that gets difficult with, in the beverage world in general, the, and you know, some parts of the beverage world are slower to adopt, like whiskeys and so on, a little bit slower to be sold online because they can’t be shipped everywhere. You know, you’ve got only so many states that you can ship whiskey into a wine and two.

And, so I think that that’s the piece that is difficult, but I think the other piece is that social can’t exist in a bubble. Right? Social has to be very closely tied to all the other digital marketing work. It’s like the website has to be set up to sell. The website has to be able to track things. The photos have to be good. You know, the descriptions have to be good. All that content has to make sense. It has to convince people. You still have to provide trust symbols that people know that you’re, you won this award, or you’ve been around for a hundred years. So I think there’s all of that kind of stuff.

And the other piece that paid brings to the table is the ability to, you know, geo-target. You know in terms of like whether it’s a reach or engagement or website traffic, it’s like, you can see it. Right. So let’s say, you know, the winery has a new wine or a new bottle or new vintage, whatever that they’re about to sell. And they typically I think wineries are, and you would know much better than me, are of the mindset, “Hey, this is the wine. We’re going to think the retail partner later.” Right? As opposed to a lot of other parts of food and beverage, but they say, “Hey, we’re going to find the retail partner first, pitch the idea to them.” Then finalize the product and then market with all the resources targeted specifically around that retailer so that you can build a case study and say, “Hey, this has worked at Whole Foods. And look how amazing it is. So Whole Foods, will you pick up this next product?” And then I can, then you can go to like, say, Sprouts or Fresh Market and say, “Hey, you know, we’re gonna, we’ve got this, this is a case study that we had with Whole Foods. We’d like to bring it to you now. “

[00:12:40] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Help legally support the 3-tier sales. That’s a masterful explanation. Conceptually, I think it’s pretty easy for wineries to understand product sales and the return on ad spend it. You spend 1000 dollars, maybe expect 4000 dollars in revenue or 5000. What is a little harder to and I see a lot of wineries making the mistake on this is with engagement, likes, and followers.

And you were one of the first people that shed my, open my eyes to this. It doesn’t really matter if you have 20, 000 of the wrong followers or you’re getting 20, 000 likes from a bot in the Philippines, that’s not really moving the needle, talk, talk to me about how to identify the right type of engagement and how to actually sift through this engagement in a world of increased bot traffic and just getting followers for followers sake.

[00:13:33] Duncan Alney: Yeah, I mean, we’ve seen those pictures of the iPhone farms, right, where it’s all automated. I mean, so it’s interesting, I mean there’s tools out there that can help you, kind of decipher the makeup of your audience. So, you know, not just geography, which is certainly helpful, you know, because if you’ve got, let’s say 20, 000 and we just dealing with this actually, with a beverage brand where they have, 30 something, 76 something thousand followers.

Or maybe it’s a hundred thousand followers, but only 76 percent of them are authentic. So we, do we know if they’re bots or if they’re, you know, some, whatever is not authentic, but we know that only 76 percent of the audience is really valid. And so then, you know, you have to recast the numbers and say, and explain, you know, to, the higher ups and say, “Hey, you know, only 76 percent of this is actually valid.” So if I got a hundred likes on one piece of content, you know, that is based on a, a foundation of only 76 percent of the actual foundation. So it’s the numbers actually always higher than they seem because of that fake following. That’s really difficult, but engagement is a tricky game in general, right?

I mean, you see like massive brands like, you know, McDonald’s and Coke that have like shit engagement, you know, it’s because, a, it could, I mean, who knows what the reason is a, you know, they’re not, people are inundated with content or they’re just not paying attention to McDonald’s content or coach content, or the content isn’t reaching them or the content isn’t the right content to begin with. You know, or it’s too long or it’s published at the wrong time. There’s so many damn reasons for low engagement. Right?

So, then you can buy, you can buy engagement too. So you can like run, ads for lack of a better term to make sure that, you know, you’re getting on people’s radar, the people that have a history of engaging, you’re getting on those people’s radar. And then you can kind of blend. You can blend direct targeting with lookalikes and website traffic or email targeting or what we’re seeing and doing increasingly, which is like first data-based targeting.

Right? So it’s like, you’re did I say it wrong? First-person data. Acquiring your first person data, and then you’re layering your first-person data into your targeting. So, you know, in a world, you know, conceivably in a world next year or year after next where we have no cookie-based retargeting capabilities, you know, or, or I should say pixel-based targeting, then you know what happens.

It’s like we gotta go back to being marketing professionals, right? Imagine that we have to be marketing people, you know, people have to do marketing. What?

[00:16:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Rather than manage the pixel. Talking about pixels and let’s do a hypothetical here. So you’ve got a client, small, smaller client, not, you know, not McDonald’s, but like a, like a winery that does 3000 cases, like a very small, and they’ve got a budget to hire an agency, but not really to engage in any paid strategies through you, but to really just generate some a really good organic content.

How do they measure that ROI? And is the agency fees in there? How do they, what advice and what sort of KPIs do you give them for that?

[00:17:09] Duncan Alney: I mean, I think, that’s a really great question. And I think that wineries, many wineries are sophisticated to know, you know, that organic social is as important as the tasting room.

So it’s like, you don’t typically find wineries skimping on, you know, artwork or the furniture, you know, in the experience of where people are coming in to taste the wine, right?

[00:17:39] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Most of them skimp on their websites. They’ll spend a million dollars on landscaping and 3, 000 on their website and wonder why.

[00:17:45] Duncan Alney: Right, right, right. That’s exactly right. To quote Neil Meyer, “That’s exactly right.” I think that the piece that’s, that we’re starting to see, you know, and again I mean, there’s such a small population of wineries that we infinitesimally, I didn’t say it right, minute that we work with where you’re seeing that credibility isn’t really a question, right?

And so coming back to your question, how can wineries see a return on investment from their organic content? Correct? That was the original question. I think you have to see it as it, you know, you, you have to stay on top of people’s minds otherwise they’ll forget about you, right? So whether it’s social, email, or mobile, which, I think in most brands are guilty of kind of a woeful, a woeful effort into email and mobile.

The brands that are doing social don’t do a very good job with email and mobile. Now I’ll tell you one brand, not a wine brand, but one brand, one brand that is so on top of their mobile is a Fellow. It’s a coffee company. It’s a high, high-end coffee company. And man, I get a text message from them every week.

And I click the message every week too, which of course they know that I’m clicking on the link. So that’s probably the reason why I get so many messages. I go to the website and I’m like, okay, so now they just launched an automatic pour-over machine. And so you don’t, you know, you don’t have to actually stand there and pour it because you. I love standing there and pouring it, but if you didn’t.

[00:19:22] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I do too. I have my Chemex every morning and it’s like almost like a meditated ritual. How slowly you drip in the boiling water.

[00:19:30] Duncan Alney: Drew, I gotta tell you a secret. I gave up, I gave up milk in the coffee. I’m like, you know if I’m really going to enjoy this coffee, you know, although I love a latte, but man, I’m just going to drink the coffee.

And also, man, I am so done with dark chocolate and dark roasts, you know. I’m not over big reds, but I’m definitely over dark roasts and dark chocolate. I’m like, I’m

[00:19:54] Drew Thomas Hendricks: So you’re drinking some blonde coffee?

[00:19:57] Duncan Alney: Yes. A lot of light roasts. A friend of mine has got a tiny little, tiny little startup called Dry Heat Coffee and he’s roasting small batches of coffee. They’re all light. I will send you some.

[00:20:08] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I’d love to. Just learned that the blonde roast actually has more caffeine than the dark roast because the caffeine burns out.

[00:20:16] Duncan Alney: I mean on a side note, I just learned that green coffee beans are the most natural source of caffeine. And so, yeah, and so, I’ve been drinking a caffeinated water called H2GO.

And the founder was in deep ecstasy telling me about why green coffee beans are the shit, you know, so it was really fun. But yeah, so that, I think that when it comes to organic, it’s like, you have to have certain, you know, you’re promoting your product and the way it should be used. Right?

So it’s like, yo, hey, hey, you know, of course in Nashville kind of things, you think of cheese and, you know, picnics and the pool and, you know, dinner and lunch and, you know, all of that. And what are you going to eat? Are you going to eat it with fish or meat or whatever, you know? And I think that you start seeing more and more brands, seeing the audience as the hero and see, hey, you know what? You are going to have such a much happier life if you’re drinking wine, you know, or if you’re eating good food and pairing it with the right wine or just drinking wine in general, right? So I think that that’s the piece that the classically trained marketeer in me is sort of like in a dilemma about because you and I were talking about data, you know, should you make wine based on data?

And I say, no. Maybe if you’re mass marketing, that’s great. It’s like, hey, you use the data, but it’s like, hey, you know, I think that’s part of the, the beauty of wine is that the discovery is such an integral part of the wine experience. It’s like, you know, just like a whiskey, you don’t know if you’re going to like it.

[00:22:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I think that, yeah, making wine data just is leading to the homogenization of the wine industry. Like homogenized milk. It’s all the same. It’s like driving through the United States, every town has the same set of stores town after town after town. And as you’re using data to help you make wine, you’re basically just turning wine into those that just even paying field of everything tasting somewhat the same.

[00:22:27] Duncan Alney: I mean, it’s interesting. I’m speaking, you know, I’m, I’m coming from a slightly skeptical perspective, you know, with the founder of Tastry, which, you know, we will, we’ll have to talk about that more, which is like, it’s a, it’s an AI company that’s taught a company, that taught a computer how to taste.

And, you know, I think that is both amazing and scary and dangerous at the same time to me.

You know, thousands of years of craftsmanship, and you’re going to say that, hey, you know, a computer is going to be able to formulate a better idea. No matter what power that data has. It’s like, you’re talking about thousands of years of experience, right? So how can a computer give us the equivalent of a thousand years of experience? And it’s not one person’s experience, right? It’s many people’s experience. So it’s, I’m curious to hear what she says, but,

[00:23:19] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I am too, because it reminds me of the old anecdote, like what’s a camel, a horse designed by a committee.

If you’ve got everyone’s palates there, you’re going to get something that just is in my opinion, awkward. And that ties into kind of our biggest focus of Barrels Ahead is on lo-fi marketing right now. And I’ll be mentioning a little bit about that. And it’s, it’s a concept I think everybody intuitively understands what it is.

It’s the unfiltered. It’s the authentic and it’s the antidote to what I see as this over-polished AI world where millennials, Gen Zs specifically are very skeptical about what’s true, what’s actually, are they being deceived, or are they just being shown a pig with lipstick on it?

Whereas lo-fi, you cut right through that. And I think social is one of the best avenues for that. How do you guys, incorporate that? Or is that some, a tactic that you’re doing at Firebelly? Or is it your core, core service? I know you’ve got a great studio set up.

[00:24:22] Duncan Alney: I mean, you know thank you. We just have launched our little product studio, which has been amazing from an efficiency standpoint and also from a, you know, sort of like creativity on demand standpoint, being able to go shoot without, you know, having to do extensive setups and moving stuff and all of that.

And, but I, I think it’s an interesting question, you know, I’m going to answer it in kind of a laborious way. Randy Travis you know, old school country music singer from not that old school, but from the eighties, neo, neo-classical country music or neo-traditional. So, you know, he was singing in the style of George Jones and Marty Robbins and all these guys, and in the eighties and 10, 12 years ago had a stroke and, you know, stopped singing.

And now he can sort of kind of mouth the words to some songs and, anyway, he dropped a song on Friday last week, so brand new song, never been heard. And so the question is, it’s like, what percentage and I think they were addressing it last Sunday. I didn’t get to follow up on it. The question is like, you know, It’s obviously they taught a computer how Randy sings.

They wrote a new song, the music’s all, you know, 100 percent real, but the singing is presumably via AI. Right? So I was asking our mutual friend, Lisa Larson-Kelley at Quantious, I say, “Hey, you know, what do you think about this?” And she was like, “We are definitely heading into a world where labeling is going to become important.”

And that’s the question I asked. Should this be like, should we have an organic label for music? Right? It’s like, because, this is not Randy, it’s blessed by Randy, but it’s not Randy. So different than Tupac, right? Tupac put a new track out. It’s like not blessed by Tupac, but it’s like, so what are the different kinds of labels we have?

And by extension, we have to do the same thing with wine, because if we’re using AI, if they’re using AI formulas for wine, should we be saying that this is wine generated by AI, not by humans? And also should we, because we want to protect all the people that are generating wine, right?

That are producing wine the old-fashioned way and are not using AI. And not just buying, you know, four grapes, a blend of four grapes to do what they’re doing. So, and on the other side, the creators, we want to protect creators who are making 100 percent organic content as opposed to, you know, machine-generated content. So I think it’s a, I don’t know that I answered that.

I think the original question was, do we use AI? We do use AI.

[00:26:56] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Not so much, not so much AI. I think we need a blend of like highly polished, pro photography, completely on brand. Like your website needs to look tight. You don’t want to, in some industries, like if you’re in the manufacturing industry, you can get away with like throwing up your product and looking like it’s just DIY.

But I think in the wine industry, you need a polished front end of the site, but then to support that, you need to show the people who you are. You need to show that there’s an actual human behind this business and those in humans have flaws. And I think a lot of millennials, a lot of Gen Z’s we see there, they are kind of jaded by the Instagram filters, by the overly polished social posts.

When they get to the winery, they taste the wine, there’s a little bit of a disconnect because it tends to just look like something that came out of a lab because that’s the impression that’s given on the wine. So, but if you show a little bit of your gritty underbelly, if you show some short-form content, show the people behind the winery, that’s where that low fire will resonate and start engaging people on a one-to-one nature.

[00:28:07] Duncan Alney: I’m sorry, I answered the question wrong. I think that we actually highly encourage brands to do what you call lo-fi marketing, which is present underproduced content that is relatable. I mean, we kind of like, do it under the auspices of being relatable. It’s like, so if it’s, you know, too highly produced, it’s not relatable.

If it’s, you know, too engineered, if the, if we’re doing a dance video for TikTok, if it’s perfect and you look like, you know, I’m trying to think, Doja Cat, it’s like you just look perfect and you’re doing it amazing. No one really gives a shit, but if it’s you know, goofy and it’s a pretty Indian guy that’s doing, you know, H O T T whatever the rest of that song is H O T T.

But, you know, it’s much more relatable because it’s like, it’s funny. There’s a human moment, you know, and I think we actually, we do use AI in some situations for, visuals, you know, like, Hey, you need a picture at the pool. A product hell picture at the pool. You cannot get to the pool because you’re in Indiana and it’s snowing outside.

So yeah. Okay. We shoot the product and then you use AI to generate the pool. But the best content so far that we see is not AI-generated. It’s not, AI generated content in general doesn’t produce high engagement.

[00:29:30] Drew Thomas Hendricks: You helped me get to the actual question.

So you’ve got your highly produced content, then you’ve got that slightly imperfect, more of a just produced, but just authentic content or relatable content, what metrics have you guys seen on how those two different types of content perform?

[00:29:50] Duncan Alney: I mean, it’s interesting. I mean, for I, I can answer partially answer the question for TikTok. You know with TikTok, we’ve seen the highest-performing content be with humans in it. And our theory is that or that, you know, TikTok can recognize faces. And so if you’re steadily producing content, it’s going to reward you. And if you produce, you know you do a video and you’re in it, but, you know, it gets 25, 000 views of the, if it’s on trend and it’s, you know, entertaining, it’s perhaps going to do 40 in the next round, you know, a hundred thousand in the next round, or, you know, if it’s, and I think there’s so much to it and social in general, you know.

It’s like, does classic, I guess, what’s the word evergreen content work on an ongoing basis for sure it does, but if all you’re doing is evergreen content, there’s a huge missed opportunity with relevancy, right? It’s like, hey, I’ll just make up something. “Hey, you know, Paul McCartney released a new song today and everybody’s listening to it. You know, can we use the clip in the video? Can we shout out Paul McCartney, or MGMT or whoever?” It’s like, so I think the relevancy piece and, you know, I think sometimes it has to be hyper-relevant.

So it’s relevant today. It’s not going to be relevant next week. You know, soI think I answered your question.

[00:31:14] Drew Thomas Hendricks: No, definitely. That, and that leads me to something that you guys are a big advocate of is, and also with relatable and in my terms, lo-fi is user-generated content. How does a winery go about boosting their user-generated content and how can they utilize it?

[00:31:33] Duncan Alney: So I think that they’re the, as I like saying these days, ” According to me.” According to me, I think it’s sort of like a fluffer, right? It’s like, I’m just like getting you ready for my big, my big comment. So according to me, I think UGC, UGC has like a number of sort of rationales for why it’s important, you know. Number one, it’s different perspectives, right?

They’re seeing the perspective, for example, you know a 35-year-old Indian American mother who is, you know, telling you why she likes drinking caffeinated water, because, you know, she doesn’t want to drink all the sugar. And so she’s going to drink the water and she’s going to be in her home. Maybe her kids are around, you know, and so it’s, it’s highly specific sort of hyper-relevant content and you can’t produce that.

You can’t produce that on a, the rationales for UGC, A, you know, you can, you can’t produce content with proper photo shoots to that extent. You just can’t. Right? Even the biggest brands can’t do it because you’re talking about, like, let’s say 400 pieces of UGC, right? That would maybe cost you in terms of fees somewhere between, you know, 200 and 500 per piece of content. So, you know, so say, you know, 100 times 200, that’s the cost, right? So 20, 000. If you try to set, you know, 100 photo shoots up. I mean, just think about that a typical photo shoot run somewhere between 5, 000 and 100, 000 dollars.

It’s ridiculous. You can’t do it. That’s the time and the energy and the scheduling. You just can’t do it. But more importantly, it’s that perspective, right? It’s Your brand is out in the wild with, with minimal guidelines and it’s out there. And you just can’t produce that level of content with that relatability.

That’s to me the beauty of UGC because that is what it gives you, it gives you that connection and you don’t, I mean, never mind the costumes, it gives you that connection. Now it has to be the right creator, right? It has to be the right creator. So you’ve got to really know what you’re doing. Who your brand is, what you’re looking for.

And then you go look for the creators and find them. And sometimes the creator has an audience too. And so they sort of like creator and influencer in one, but creators are known, of course, for creating, and influencers are known for influencing. So you may not get any influence capabilities with someone who’s creating photos for your wine brand, but what you’re going to get from them is very compelling, credible imagery that you can then use.

And then you put it now in some rare circumstances, you’ll get, you’ll get an influencer who has great image, a lot of influencers have great imagery, so they get the great imagery, you get the audience, and then if you’ve done the deal correctly, you get the content, and then you’re using the content, they’ve already used the content, and you’re making a side deal with them to promote their content because they’re not going to promote it, so you want to promote it to your audience from them.

[00:34:33] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Smart.

[00:34:34] Duncan Alney: Yeah. So I, and I think it’s interesting because LinkedIn actually has also, I mean, this stuff has been happening on the consumer side with Instagram and Facebook for a minute, but LinkedIn is now letting you promote third-party content. It has to be with the third party’s consent, but you can now, so if I decide, “Hey, Drew said something brilliant. I want to promote it.” So I can now you, I’ll set up the ad to promote your content. You’ll get, you know, paying from LinkedIn saying, “Hey, do you approve of this and you approve it or not approve it, whichever way.” So I think that UGC piece very important huge, huge cost saver and, you know, adds layers of perspective in terms of relatability.

[00:35:16] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s good. Let’s see if we’re kind of wrapping. Well, I’m so formal. You showed me a bottle of whiskey earlier. I’m curious about it. Tell me about it.

[00:35:26] Duncan Alney: Oh yeah. So, I haven’t, let me finish the water first.

[00:35:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: We have the same glass.

[00:35:31] Duncan Alney: So the one, yeah, I’m drinking this water from H2Go. So they’re a little very courageous company in of course, Vermont, you know, a lot of great things come from Vermont.

The founder was recently on that show, but then, this is actually in disclosure, this is a client of ours Filmland Spirits. So beautiful.

[00:35:54] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I was with you in Denver when you met the guy.

[00:35:57] Duncan Alney: That’s right. That’s right. I forgot about that. You know, and each bottle is a beautiful design. Of course, you can’t really see, you can’t see it on the podcast, but it’s a beautiful, you know, hand crafted, hand design and then produced bottle.

And each bottle has its own script and they’re all sort of like B-grade science fiction movies. And they invent, they invent the characters and the founders are really cool guys. And this particular one is actually not a bourbon. It’s a rye. And this is like, I should send, I need to send you a bottle.

I mean, you’re part of the reason we started working with them since you drove me to that meeting.

[00:36:35] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I remember.

[00:36:37] Duncan Alney: It’s delicious. Yeah.

[00:36:39] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s good. I’m glad you’re working with them. I love the idea of having the movie poster. Back in the day, we are in a different agency I ran. Our branding was a deck of cards and it was 50 movie scenes. It all had to do with the, with a frog. I think I have, oh yeah, right here. Like here is frogs on a plane.

[00:37:06] Duncan Alney: Oh, that’s amazing, frogs. But you know, what’s interesting, you said you haven’t done Legends of the Craft Podcast in three months, but I mean, you’re doing an exceptional job today and I, we’re doing all the right things. We’re talking about fun things. We’re hanging out. We’re giving frog on a hog.

[00:37:24] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Frog on a hog. We got the frog matrix.

[00:37:28] Duncan Alney: The frog matrix. I like it.

[00:37:30] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Well, that was back in the design shop. It was funny. I still think about that. That’s similar to the whiskey. Whiskey card.

[00:37:37] Duncan Alney: I got the whiskey hiccups.

[00:37:39] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Uh oh. Oh no.

[00:37:40] Duncan Alney: One thing I wanted to just go back to mention.

We talked about purchase intention. And I know that our clients, beverage clients tend to work with MikMak, who I was mentioning earlier, it’s a platform that specifically helps with acceleration and, you know, ties in with commerce and specifically looks at purchase intention. And then it tracks, you know, I’m, I’m doing a very surface job of what MikMak does, but, you know, beverage industry isn’t without, you know, valuable support tools that perhaps didn’t exist, you know, 10 years ago.

[00:38:15] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It’s interesting because I think that we’re seeing a lot of, I mean, you know, wineries, of course, whole different situation.

[00:38:23] Duncan Alney: You, you start, I’ve seen some really interesting approaches in the wine world, like smaller, smaller organizations that are buying, you know, the juice from elsewhere and then market marketing it, there’s no, there’s no winery, there’s, there’s no vineyard, there’s, there’s nothing. It’s just a brand.

Interesting to see that kind of agility, you know, and another one I came across where it’s just an eating experience. And by the way, they have wine and they’ll put you in the wine club.

[00:38:52] Duncan Alney: We talked to them last week, Gentlemen Farmer Wines, and in Napa.

And essentially, like I said, it’s a food experience with the two. The owners of the brand and, you know, by the way, they have great wine too. And so then you, you’re there to eat, you have this, like, you know Michelin level experience and then, you know, there’s also great wine.

[00:39:17] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That sounds fantastic. Have a great day, Duncan and everyone else that’s listening. Hope your day’s working well.

[00:39:23] Duncan Alney: Thank you. See you later.